Blog , Lifestyle and Entertainment

How to Clean the Refrigerator

Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2024
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson


Food odors, sticky messes, yucky mold, and icky germs can happen in refrigerators. The best way to combat those problems is by cleaning this well-used appliance regularly.

So, what’s the problem?

Leaky or spoiled foods can create big messes – not to mention stinky smells. And eating foul foods can make us sick. Add cleaning the refrigerator to your once-a-week household cleaning routine to eliminate potential problems. Consider placing a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to control odors.

It’s no big deal

Cleaning the fridge needn’t be a big chore. When done weekly, it’s a breeze to keep up with the contents – ensuring that expired and spoiled foods are regularly tossed, and that the fridge sparkles and shines – looking and smelling its best.

A little of your time

While a deep cleaning takes a bit longer, note that it typically requires less than a half-hour worth of time to clean/straighten a regular-size fridge with average contents. This includes reorganizing the contents to optimize food freshness and find what you need in a breeze!

It ultimately saves time

Regular cleanings can be done in a snap and allow you to space out your deep cleaning sessions, thereby saving time overall.

Consider the freezer, too!

Many people have refrigerators with attached freezers. When it comes to deep cleaning that involves unplugging the entire unit, it’s a sensible idea to clean both the fridge and freezer at the same time.

Freezer tips

Empty ice trays into coolers to keep foods cold/frozen. Expect to allow additional time for the freezer to defrost. When deep cleaning the freezer, follow a similar technique as described below. When sorting frozen foods, do pitch freezer-burned foods, items covered in ice-crystals, and anything expired. 

But first

Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the fridge and freezer. Should they differ from our steps below, follow their instructions instead.

Getting started

Insider tip: Be prepared by having basic cleaning supplies on hand such as:

  • A large bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Non-abrasive rags
  • Clean towels
  • A cooler on ice (for temporary storage of foods)

Insider tip: Have a lot of food that needs to be kept cold/frozen during the cleaning process? Only have one cooler? Consider borrowing an extra from a friend or neighbor so that you can take your time cleaning.

Ten quick steps to a clean fridge: (Note that you may opt to do the freezer at the same time.)  

  1. Remove the entire contents of the refrigerator and sort as you go. Place items you wish to keep inside a large cooler. Toss anything expired or unsafe to eat.
  2. Once emptied, unplug the appliance. (This prevents the risk of electrocution.)
  3. Take out shelving, drawers, and other removable parts. Allow them to come to room temperature before cleaning.
  4. Once the fridge interior and parts are at room temp, most removable pieces can safely be washed with hot, soapy water, and rinsed. Always use non-abrasive rags and cleaning products. (Tip: Never run cold glass shelving under hot water as the glass could crack.)
  5. Gently pat shelves dry with a clean towel. Thoroughly let them dry.
  6. Working from top to bottom, using hot soapy water and a clean rag, wash the inside parts of the empty fridge – to include inside doors and non-removable shelves. Immediately dry them with a clean towel. (For contaminated or highly soiled refrigerators, consider following up by wiping the refrigerator interior and parts with a solution consisting of 1 Tablespoon of liquid bleach to 1 gallon of water.)
  7. Refrigerators have different exterior finishes, so follow manufacturer directions for cleaning the fridge exterior. Remember to use non-scratching rags (if needed) for surfaces like stainless steel. Or use a product specifically made to clean your fridge’s exterior. Do clean germy handles as well.
  8. Don’t forget to clean/wipe the top of the refrigerator and underneath to remove dust. If your fridge is on casters, simply roll it out and clean the floor below.
  9. If needed, vacuum the refrigerator’s condenser and coils. This is an area where dust and debris can gather and affect your refrigerator’s performance. (Note that this cleaning step may involve removing protective grills – so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.)
  10. Thoroughly dry the refrigerator’s interior before plugging in the unit. Once the fridge and freezer have reached optimal temps, it’s time to return food products to the appliances. But, before you do, quickly check our tips on smart ways to organize the fridge!


This article is purely informational and is intended as general advice only. For specific appliance care, seek manufacturer’s advice.

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Larry Bossman
Larry Bossman
2 months ago


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