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National Clean Your Refrigerator Day: How to Clean Your Fridge

November 14th, 2016 - 3:21 PM

Tips for cleaning a refrigerator

While November 15 is National Clean Your Refrigerator Day, you can “celebrate” this holiday any time. Whether you’re cleaning one in your new apartment, prepping yours for a move, or just trying to get rid of fridge odor, it’s good to know the best way to get the job done.

how to clean a refrigerator

Fridge clean out supplies

National Clean Your Refrigerator Day is a great reason to don your rubber gloves, but this appliance really is something that should be cleaned regularly. If you’ve spilled something inside it or notice a strange smell or mold, it’s time for a cleaning. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • A cooler to keep food cold
  • Sponge/scrubber
  • Towels/paper towels for drying
  • Toothbrush or other small brush for crevices
  • Flashlight
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking soda or vinegar
  • Vacuum (with a hose attachment)
  • Magic Eraser (for non-stainless-steel finishes)
  • Olive oil (for stainless steel finishes)
  • Optional: steamer

How to clean a refrigerator

  1. Remove all food. Check expiration dates and throw out any expired food. Wipe down all bottles and containers, and place them in a cooler. Tip: if you’re moving, give perishable food to a neighbor or use it up!
  2. Remove any parts from inside. If there are any removable drawers or shelving, take them out. It’s easier to clean them in the sink or on the counter after they come to room temperature.
  3. Work top to bottom. Put on your gloves and start cleaning! Use the toothbrush and sponge to remove any food or stains. Baking soda and water made into a paste makes a great abrasive cleaner, and vinegar works well on glass shelving. If you have a steamer, you can easily steam the mess and wipe it away.
  4. Get in the crevices. Use your flashlight and toothbrush to deep clean any hidden areas like small brackets and the gaskets on the door.
  5. Clean shelving and drawers. Clean anything you were able to remove, and then replace those items.
  6. Tackle the smell. If there’s a lingering smell, wipe the area with a bit of vanilla extract to neutralize it.
  7. Turn off the power. Either flip the breaker or unplug the fridge —  the next step involves the inner workings.
  8. Clean under your fridge. Remove and clean the drip pan, then find the coils. For most refrigerators, they are located under the “kick plate” on the front. Just remove the plate gently (there might be a spring clip or some screws to remove depending on your model. Refer to your user’s manual).  Use your vacuum hose attachment to remove any dust or debris, and then replace the drip pan and kick plate. 
  9. Power the fridge back up. Let it cool down before replacing any food.
  10. Clean the outside. For a non-stainless-steel fridge, use a Magic Eraser to remove any residue or stains from the exterior. For a stainless steel fridge, spray with vinegar and wipe with a soft cloth in the direction of the grain. Once it’s clean, use olive oil to polish the finish.

Moving? Don’t forget to defrost your fridge

If you’re cleaning out your refrigerator before a move, don’t forget to defrost your fridge well in advance. Usually 24-48 hours is plenty of time.

How to defrost a fridge:

  1. Make sure it’s empty. Take everything out of the fridge and freezer.
  2. Open the doors. Let room temperature air begin to circulate.
  3. Turn off the fridge. Either unplug or flip the breaker to the unit.
  4. Put down plenty of towels. Any built up ice in the freezer will melt and will need somewhere to go. Line the compartments and the floor with towels to catch any water.
  5. Disconnect the water line. Turn off the water valve to shut off the water, and then remove the water connection. Drain the water line into a bowl or bucket.
  6. Wait, then dry. Allow at least one day to defrost, then wipe up any water and dry the fridge.  

When you’re finished cleaning and defrosting, follow these steps to move the refrigerator.

Questions about cleaning a fridge?

If you have any questions about how to clean a refrigerator, leave a comment below. We’re here to help!