Don’t beat yourself up over a dirty fridge. It’s an easy cleaning routine to overlook, so we put together this guide to help you understand how to keep a fridge clean. Whether your home warranty covers your refrigerator or not, you don’t have to do a full deep clean every time you clean the kitchen. There are fridge-cleaning hacks we’d like to share here. Once you’re ready, empty the fridge of all food. Recycle or trash what you can, and put the rest into a cooler. Then gather your supplies and follow our seven easy tips to keep your fridge clean.
Supplies for the job
We recommend doing most of your refrigerator cleaning with simple household staples, like vinegar, baking soda, old T-shirt rags and the occasional bit of hydrogen peroxide. Our favorite all-purpose cleaning solution is a simple 50-50 water-and-vinegar solution in a spray bottle. You might need a scouring pad if you have tougher stains, but you can skip the hard stuff, like bleach or other toxic cleaners. Add a little dish soap and warm water, and you’re ready.
Step 1. How to clean fridge shelves and drawers
Once your fridge is empty, you can take out your refrigerator shelves, drawers and any other removable parts, and let them warm up to room temperature. Then spray them down with the vinegar-and-water solution, let them sit for a while, and clean each with warm water and soap in your kitchen sink using a dish sponge or the old T-shirts. You can even use your bathtub.
Step 2. Cleaning the interior
Here, you can still use the vinegar-and-water solution, but you can also pack a little more punch by dissolving a couple of tablespoons of baking soda into a quart of hot water for scrubbing your fridge’s interior. Work your way down from the top so that as you scrub, rinse and finally wipe each surface clean, you won’t drip all over the parts you’ve already cleaned. If you’re having trouble getting into any nooks and crannies, try a scrub brush or even a toothbrush. For stubborn spots, make a paste of baking soda and water, and let it sit while you take a break.
Step 3. Cleaning the exterior
If your fridge is stainless, there are specific cleaners designed to keep it looking great. If you’d rather stick with the basics, you can still use your water-and-vinegar spray or a dab of rubbing alcohol on a clean, dry cloth. Your DIY spray should work well on the exterior sides, but don’t forget to break out the stepladder to clean the top and also vacuum underneath.
Step 4. Cleaning the coils and water dispenser
Cleaning refrigerator coils begins with locating them. Use your manual; if you don’t have it, look up the manufacturer’s directions online using the model number. After you locate the condenser coils, unplug the fridge and use a cleaning brush to remove dust from them. Vacuum up the remaining debris, and you’re ready to move on to the water dispenser. Consult the manual again. If any pieces of the water dispenser assembly are removable, such as the tray, you can clean them in your sink with hot and soapy water.
Step 5. Cleaning the gasket and drip pan
The gasket around the fridge door is important for maintaining consistent temperatures and effective food cooling. If dirt and spills are allowed to build up, the seal can fail and you’ll need to replace it. Clean the gasket with your 50-50 spray or a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Make sure to rinse it carefully, and add a thin layer of petroleum jelly if you want to prevent the seal from drying and becoming brittle. A little goes a long way. If the drip pan under the fridge is removable, you can clean it like you did the interior shelves and drawers.
Step 6. Fighting odors and mold
To absorb odors, add an open container or box of baking soda to the bottom shelf. Replace it every month or so. If you’re low on baking soda, coffee grounds can also work. Mold, however, is another story. If your mold discovery is a small one, try baking soda. If your mold problem is more extensive, it might be time to call a pro for help or consider replacing the appliance.
Step 7. Keeping your fridge clean and fresh
Want to learn how to keep fridge shelves clean while keeping your fridge fresh and odor-free for the long haul? Here are some parting thoughts, tips and tricks to make your regular cleanings easier and increase your enjoyment of the centerpiece of your kitchen appliances:
- Temperature shifts: You can damage parts of your fridge if you take them straight from cold air into hot water. Let your components adjust to room temperature before cleaning.
- Thaw carefully: When thawing meat from the freezer in your fridge, always use a plate so no drippings make it onto any shelves or other refrigerator surfaces.
- Keep it simple: Avoid the temptation to pack your fridge full of stuff. A little room for airflow makes for better circulation, better performance and easier cleaning.
- Clean shelf routine: Don’t let things expire, spill, overflow, leak or make a mess that could lead to a smell or worse. Clean drippy jars and containers before placing them in the fridge.
Thanks for reading our seven tips to keep your fridge clean. While you’re at it, look into our refrigerator maintenance guide to keep your investment running strong.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.