How To Clean Your Refrigerator The Right Way

“Did you know that a well-maintained refrigerator can actually prevent you from getting sick?”

It is highly important to clean your refrigerator regularly. At least wipe down all the spills from various perishable items in the fridge.

This helps in maintaining the fridge in proper condition and also increase its life.

When the perishables like vegetables, fruits, and other groceries decay or when food spills are not cleaned immediately, it will make room for germs/bacteria to start breeding. This allows harmful bacteria like E.Coli to develop and spread, further affecting other items in the fridge. 

In this article, I will be discussing how to clean a refrigerator the right way. Try these useful tips now and clean your refrigerator inside and out.

Step-by-Step Process of Cleaning Refrigerator

It is common for us to clean the refrigerator in a hurry. Do not! It is a step-by-step procedure, and make sure you follow each step diligently without any rush. Here’s what you should do.

Step 1: Turn off the Refrigerator

Turn off the Refrigerator

The most prominent step to begin with while cleaning the refrigerator is to switch it off. The refrigerator will consume more electricity when you keep the doors open for a long time, and you wouldn’t want that. So, it is safer to have it unplugged. If you cannot unplug or reach the socket, you better turn off the circuit breaker.

Step 2: Empty the Refrigerator

Empty the Refrigerator

The next important step in the cleaning process to empty the refrigerator by removing the food and other items, including drinks, milk, leftovers, and other perishables kept in it. 

Put the food that is still good and other perishables like opened cartons of milk in a cooler. While you leave other items on the counter, discard the expired food in the trash. 

Note: It is advisable not to leave the food out for more than one hour.

Step 3: Remove Shelves and Drawers

Remove the Shelves

After you empty the refrigerator, the next thing is to empty the contents. Take out all removable drawers and shelves and put them aside. Wash the removable parts made of metal or plastic with hot water and dish soap. But those made of glass or ceramic, allow them to come down to room temperature and then wash with hot water. This prevents cracking and breaking. After washing set them aside to dry.

Note: Make sure the refrigerator removable parts are completely dry and the fridge interiors cleaned before replacing them.

Tip: Be careful with the slippery glass shelving. Use dishwashing gloves for easy handling and to prevent breakage.

Step 4: Clean the Refrigerator Interior

Cleaning the Interiors

The next yet crucial step is to clean the inside of the fridge. You can hot water and mild dish soap to clean. You can also use other multi-purpose cleaners. However, many people prefer using white vinegar or baking soda to clean as it absorbs odours. 

Using baking soda

  • Take a spray bottle and fill it with two tablespoons of baking soda and a quarter of hot water. 
  • Spray the solution to all interior surfaces of the fridge, including the walls, non-removable shelves, and the inside of the door. 
  • Let it sit, and then wipe with a sponge or microfiber cloth. 
  • If you notice any trouble spots, use a toothbrush or small scrub brush to scrub them. Dip the brush in the hot water, scrub the stains and then wipe with a dry cloth. 

For the stains that are stubborn to get rid of, layer them with the paste of baking soda and water. Let it sit for at least ten minutes before you wipe them up. 

Note: Clean and rinse the cloth or rags that you’re using thoroughly. Else, use multiple rags to ensure cleanliness.

Using vinegar:

  • Take a spray bottle and fill it with one part of white vinegar and three parts of water. 
  • Follow the same cleaning method as you did with the baking soda solution. 

Tip: Do not use bleach to deep clean your fridge unless there is a strong odour or stains that are hard to remove. Moreover, your fridge will need several hours to air out after cleaning with bleach.

Step 5: Dry the Interior of the Fridge

After you finish the task of cleaning the interior, wipe it using a clean dry cloth or towel to make sure it is completely dry. Don’t forget to dry the interior doors as well.

Step 6: Clean out the Freezer

 clean the freezer

The freezer is yet another important part of the fridge for cleaning. But the best part about it is that it rarely has any spills, and you don’t have to scrub them hard. Check for any spoiled or expired food, and remove them. If you feel the freezer requires a more thorough cleaning, you can use the same methods, as mentioned above for the refrigerator.

Step 7: Clean Exterior

Exteriors of Refrigerator

Now that you finished cleaning the interiors, it is time to clean the exteriors of the fridge.

  • Use a microfiber cloth or any soft cloth dampened with mild soap and warm water to wipe the doors.
  • Give special attention to the areas around the handles as they may contain fingerprints on them. 
  • For wiping the stainless-steel exteriors, it is preferable to use stainless-steel sprays. You can also use vinegar or a window cleaner and wipe with a soft non-scratching rag. This will help in keeping the surface shiny. 
  • Do not forget the rubber gasket seal around the edges of the door. Clean the rubber gasket seal around the edges of the door using dish soap and warm water. There are more chances for the dirt and grime to get accumulated here and might as well cause the seal to crack.
  • It is equally important to wipe the top of the refrigerator, as well. If not regularly, at least do it occasionally because dust gets piled up over time.

Step 7: Replace the Food

Once you finish cleaning the exteriors, it means you have come to the end of the cleaning process. All you have to do now is to replace the food in the refrigerator.

But before that, make sure the dry shelves, drawers, and other removable items of the fridge are in place. You can even adjust the shelf placement based on your requirements to make room for the large items. 

If there are any food jars or containers that need cleaning too, kindly do it. Use clean clothes or sponge or a rag dampened with hot water to wipe the food jars and dry them completely.

Step 8: Check the Drip Pan

It is essential to check the drip pans that collect the condensation. Some brands have refrigerator models that come with removable drip pans.

  • Remove the grill located on top of the condenser foils of your fridge.
  • You can locate the drip pan here, and after locating it, remove it by wearing gloves.
  • Clean it with warm soapy water, dry and replace it along with the front grill.
  • If you are not sure about the drip pan and its location, you can use the user manual as a reference and follow the instruction mentioned.

How to Remove Fridge Odours?

Once the fridge is clean, you may want to prevent the foul odour from reoccurring. Follow these tips or hacks to tackle and deodorize your refrigerator smells without using any harsh chemical cleaners.

Deodorize with baking soda 

After rinsing and drying all surfaces, place an open container with dry baking soda in the fridge and leave it for about 24 hours. This will deodorize your fridge by absorbing any smells in it. Remember to dispense the baking soda after the task.

Using Coffee Beans

The combination of baking soda and coffee grounds can give dramatic results in reducing the fridge odour. Spread some freshly-ground coffee beans across a pan or baking sheet and place them in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This will absorb any unpleasant odours.

Using Vinegar

You can even use vinegar to neutralize the bad smells that come out of your refrigerator. Place a cup or bowl filled with white vinegar in the fridge. This will help you obtain the desired effect.

Using Lemon

This is the most commonly available item in any home. Take a few slices of lemon, place them inside the fridge and leave them to sit for some time. This will help in absorbing any unpleasant smell from your fridge.

Using Charcoal 

You can also use charcoal to combat the foul odour. Take some charcoal in a bowl and put it inside the refrigerator. Set the temperature of your fridge to a minimum and keep the door closed for three days.

Once the fridge is clean and deodorized, put everything back in place. Organize the food or other items in your fridge accordingly.

How to Clean a Refrigerator Water Dispenser?

Your refrigerator water dispenser is the thing that sometimes gets overlooked by most of us during cleaning. Dirt and grime can get collected over it, affecting the water quality and its flow. To ensure clean, fresh, and bacteria-free drinking water, it is essential to clean the dispenser thoroughly. 

The best way to clean is by referring to the user manual. The systems may vary for different brands and models. Hence, it is always wise to read the specific instructions and other information in the manual. This will help you with troubleshooting major water dispenser problems.

This is how you can clean a water dispenser on your refrigerator door:

  • Start by disconnecting the water supply to your dispenser.
  • Flush with white vinegar. Pour a few cups of vinegar into the water dispenser reservoir and let it sit for five minutes. Now flush the water from the reservoir.
  • Scrub the water dispenser nozzle using a clean toothbrush or any other small brush with soft bristles.
  • Rinse the vinegar from the reservoir. Reconnect the water supply and allow water to flow through the system again.
  • Now, remove any leftover vinegar by dispensing the water. This will make your water taste fresh.
  • Clean the outside surfaces of the water dispenser with a soft sponge or cloth soaked in vinegar and water.
  • You can also spray a mixture of water and vinegar on the surface and wipe with a damp cloth. After that, wipe with a clean cloth to remove the vinegar.

Note: Check the manual for the timely replacement of the ice maker filter in your dispenser.

How to Clean Refrigerator Coils?

Regular maintenance of your refrigerator coils, i.e., cleaning them twice a year can keep your fridge functioning at its peak. This is a simple task, which you can complete in less than 15 minutes. Here is a step-by-step process on how to clean refrigerator coils in no time. 

  • Pull the refrigerator away from the wall.
  • Unplug the refrigerator.
  • Locate the coils. These can be either on the back or on the bottom, depending on the fridge model. (You can refer to your user manual)
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to brush away the gunk and grime that got collected on the coils.
  • For bits of dirt that are too stubborn to get rid of, use a paintbrush to clean.
  • Vacuum up all the dust or dirt messed up on the floor.
  • Replace the coils, plug the refrigerator back in and push it back to its place.

How to Clean Mold from a Refrigerator?

It is obvious for one to notice mold growing in the refrigerator because of the cold, damp, and dark conditions. It can cause allergic reactions for people in the household, which can be problematic and dangerous for individuals with a weak immune system. Hence, it is crucial to get rid of mold and this is how you can do it:

  • Unplug the refrigerator while cleaning (It is up to the discretion of user if he wants to).
  • Remove all the foods and liquids from the fridge compartments, especially those that have visible mold.
  • Remove all the shelves, trays, drawers, and other removable components.
  • After emptying the refrigerator, clean it using the baking soda and warm water solution.
  • Soak a soft washcloth in the baking solution and scrub away all the lingering traces of mold both inside and outside the fridge (Walls, gasket, floor)
  • Thoroughly dry the surface of the fridge with paper towels. Make sure it is completely dry, and there is no moisture left.
  • Finally, replace all the contents of the refrigerator and restock the food items in the compartments.

Note: Avoid using abrasives, ammonia, or bleach-based cleaners, as they can damage your refrigerator.

How to Clean the Refrigerator Gasket?

A gasket is a crucial part of your refrigerator and needs special attention and regular maintenance, too. This is how you can maintain your refrigerator gasket seal:

  • Prepare your cleaning solution
  • Mix 1quart warm water with one tablespoon of baking soda. 
  • You can also use mild soap and water solution. 
  • Gently wipe down the gaskets, using a microfiber cloth and dry.
  • Inspect the gasket and make sure the air-tight seal is strong. 
  • Replace the gasket seal if damaged.

Fridge Cleaning Hacks:

#1. Do you feel that cleaning your refrigerator is a stressful task? Relax! These quick and easy hacks can make your cleaning routine super easy. Check them out:

#2. Do not wait for the food spills and stains to sit for a longer time, as they can be harder to remove. Wipe them as soon as they happen. 

#3. Make sure the exteriors or the surfaces of the containers that you are storing in the fridge are clean. Let no residue remain on the outside of the jam or ketchup bottle, as it will make the fridge sticky. 

#4. Place frozen meat on a baking sheet to control spills or leakage.

#5. For a pleasant aroma inside the fridge, leave few cotton balls soaked in the vanilla extract in the fridge for a few hours. 

#6. Use mild abrasive toothpaste to scrub tough stains.

#7. To solve odour problems, try placing a crumpled piece of a brown paper in drawer with fruits and vegetables. This will help in absorbing the odours.

#8. Never overstuff your refrigerator. Allow some room for the air to circulate inside the fridge. If you overcrowd the fridge, it becomes harder to notice stains and clean them.

#9. If you want your refrigerator cleaning task to be an easy chore, clean it regularly. This will save your time, and you can accommodate your space for more important things.

Tips to Store for Food Properly in Refrigerator

These best practices for food storage will help your food to last longer: 

Raw meat and fish: Always wrap raw meat and fish and place them on a plate or in a container to prevent drips. It is best advisable to store them on the lowest shelf or container to prevent drips from contaminating the things below.

Milk and other dairies: Do not place milk and other dairy-based foods on the door shelves, as the temperature changes might affect them. Instead, put them deep on the shelves. Store wrapped cheese only in drawers.

Jarred items like jellies, olives, dressings: Store these items on door shelves, where temperature fluctuations will not be a concern.

Lettuce and fresh herbs: Store in refrigerator drawers.

Tomatoes: Store always on the countertop separately. 

Berries: Store unwashed berries in refrigerator drawers.

Ethylene gas-producing fruits and vegetables: Store such food items away from other fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, avocados, and mangoes that are sensitive to ethylene.

Eggs: Place eggs in a place where they won’t get disturbed.

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is it ok to use ordinary kitchen cleaning products for refrigerator cleaning?

Some of the kitchen cleaning products that have gentle ingredients and natural essential oils are okay to use for cleaning the refrigerator. Some of the kitchen cleaning products are too strong which contain chemicals that are specially formulated to kill the germs and microbes commonly present in kitchen.

But these chemicals should never come in contact (indirect or direct) with food. Though you can rinse the food before consumption, it is still not safe or worth of the risk as the chemical residue can still lead to contamination. Instead of using normal kitchen cleaning chemicals, use mild soap water or liquid detergent solution and some water to wipe the inside of the refrigerator.

You can soak the removable shelves and drawers in warm water for cleaning them. It is better to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer just to be safe.

2. Is it ok to use disinfectant in the refrigerator?

You should never use disinfectants, especially bleach for cleaning the interiors of refrigerator. Similar to any other kitchen cleaning products, when disinfectant comes in contact with food can make people ill as the chemicals involved in it are very strong.

We recommend to use products that are formulated with fridge friendly chemicals, natural ingredients or make a solution yourself with baking soda, vinegar and warm water.

3. Are natural products efficient enough to clean the fridge?

Actually, natural products are very helpful and efficient in cleaning refrigerator. Apart from being safe, they also maintain proper hygienic and don’t interact with food ingredients. Some of the natural ingredients that are helpful include baking soda and white vinegar.

Baking soda is capable of removing stains and removing odors as well. White vinegar is capable of cleaning stainless steel things like the doors of refrigerator (if you have a stainless steel refrigerator model). However, to prevent any adverse effects, we recommend to test a small patch or area.

Few Words to Conclude…

Now that you know why it is essential to deep clean your fridge, I am sure you wouldn’t want to neglect it anymore.

Try these simple steps that will not only keep the refrigerator clean but also make it look and smell fresh for longer.

Let us know what you think about these in the comments section below. Stay cool and stay healthy!

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