Cleaning your fridge can be a tedious chore that you always dread and keep postponing, or it can be a much easier routine that keeps your kitchen better organized, simplifies meal preparation and keeps your family safe from accidental food poisoning. When you follow our nine fridge cleaning tips, you’ll have a step-by-step system that professional house cleaners use to get great results in record time.
1. Get your fridge cleaner ready.
You can use a mild solution of your dish detergent or you can go green with a popular natural cleaner: baking soda. Mix a quarter cup of baking soda with one quart of warm water. Baking soda sanitizes, brightens and removes odors all at once. Plus you really don’t have to wash off the solution, unless you see a residue.
2. Take all the food out of your fridge.
You job will be far easier if you don’t have to clean around food and other containers. Start by placing highly perishable items in a cooler, then begin checking expiration dates to ensure you don’t have any food that has outstayed its welcome. You should also check any leftovers to ensure they are fresh and haven’t begun to exhibit traits more commonly associated with living organisms. Toss anything that doesn’t pass the test.
3. Remove the drawers and shelves.
If they have old food stuck to them, you can put them in your bathtub and let them soak for a spell. Scrub the drawers and shelves with a non-abrasive scrub brush, then rinse and dry with paper towels or a clean cloth.
4. Clean the inside of your fridge.
Wipe down the inside surfaces — the walls, top, bottom, inside door and rubber gasket around the edges-with a hot cloth and cleaning solution. Use a scrubby to loosen dried spills. Don’t forget the corners and crevices. Once done, dry the inside surfaces thoroughly.
5. Put drawers and shelves back in your fridge.
Examine the surfaces and make sure they are both clean and dry. Now that’s perfect!
6. Put the food back in your fridge.
Before you put everything back in, rinse and dry your fresh fruits and vegetables. Then wipe down any messy containers. The biggest culprits are salad dressing, ketchup, mustard, jelly and pancake syrup bottles. You don’t want to accidentally mess up what you just finished cleaning up.
7. Clean your fridge’s exterior.
Wipe down the exterior from top to bottom. If your fridge has a stainless steel finish, use vinegar or a window cleaner to give it a nice shine.
8. Clean out your freezer.
Freezers tend to stay clean longer than refrigerators. Depending on the condition of yours, you can follow our fridge cleaning steps or simply throw out foods that have been frozen too long.
9. Clean the drip pan and refrigerator coils every season.
If your refrigerator has a drip pan, it’s located at the bottom behind the front grill on top of condenser coils. It can get pretty nasty, so quarterly cleaning is a must. The drip pan can be removed for easy cleaning. Unplug the refrigerator before you clean the condenser coils with your vacuum cleaner brush attachment. The coils are usually located on the back of the fridge. Check your appliance manual for their location if you don’t see them.
Preventive Maintenance Tips between Fridge Cleanings.
In a perfect world, weekly cleanings are best to keep your fridge clean, organized and smelling fresh. And most important, weekly cleanings make you more aware of foods that have passed their expiration date and need to be tossed. In reality however, most of us are just too busy for weekly fridge cleanings. With that in mind:
1. Drips & Smears – Before you put them back in your fridge, wipe off those condiments and salad dressing jars-any container that tends to have sticky drips or smears on the sides. Wipe off the bottoms to prevent smears and rings on the fridge shelves.
2. Spills – Wipe them clean right away. It only takes a minute. Spills are the main cause of bad odors in your fridge. The longer you let them sit there, the more you’ll have to scrub to clean them.
3. Replace your Baking Soda Box Monthly – Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. Always keep an open baking soda box (remove the top) in your refrigerator and freezer (as close to the fan as possible), to help eliminate odors. Baking soda is fragrance-free, so it won’t taint your food. It works by reacting with any bad odors and neutralizing them. When your refrigerator door is closed, the air circulates past the baking soda and odors are continually removed. When you replace your baking soda box every month, don’t throw the old box out. It still has enough power to use to clean your counters, trash cans or drains. Just don’t use it for baking. Those cupcakes wouldn’t be pretty.