How to Clean a Refrigerator Both Inside and Out?

How to Clean a Refrigerator

The refrigerator is one of the most important components in our home and is perhaps the most indispensable part of every household. We live in an era where no human life could exist without a refrigerator. IT helps as a mini-storage factory in every home where practically everything that is left over is preserved. And trust me, the refrigerator is what prevents more than 50% of the food waste, as it helps keep food fresh for days and weeks before it is finally consumed.

To help the refrigerator to continue its work and help it to work optimally in preserving the quality and nutritive value of food, it is important to clean and maintain it appropriately. Yes, all of us do clean our refrigerator with soap and water frequently (sometimes once in a fortnight or month) But is it enough to offer deep cleaning for the fridge. Maybe the visible dirt and stains are washed off, what about micro-level cleaning? Can soap and water offer expert cleaning for the refrigerator so that the food items that are stored in it are safe to consume? For your children and elders at home? Maybe not.

Read through to learn how to clean your refrigerator inside out from experts, so that you can be sure that the dinner on your plate is healthy, apart from being tasty.

Cleaning the Refrigerator Inside and Out (Step by Step Guide)

The refrigerator is the workhorse of the home and without proper cleaning and maintenance, there are all chances to have stains and food residue buildup on both the outer and inner shelves and drawers of the fridge. A punky rotten smell is also indispensable when its door is opened. Follow these tips to keep the refrigerator clean and to keep the funky smells off, every time the door is opened. 

1. Cleaning the exteriors of the fridge to a new shine:

The handles and the exteriors of the fridge are prone to stain buildup and can also get dull over time. To achieve sparkling clean fridge exteriors, we can simply wipe the fridge with a cloth and an all-purpose cleaner. Applying a bit of elbow grease to the handles is also a good idea to get rid of grime, that builds up in the handles. This can also be applied all over the external body of the refrigerator. But one relief is that this cleaning routine need not be maintained daily, but can be instituted once a week, as dust accumulates over time.

If you are using a stainless steel refrigerator, then it is important to remove the smudges and fingerprints frequently, as and when they build up. For quick and easy cleaning, we can first clean the surface with a damp cloth and then followed by a dry one. Rubbing alcohol is also a better idea to get rid of stubborn grime. 

2. Cleaning the refrigerator interiors

Before attempting to clean the interiors of the refrigerators it is important to remove the drawers and the shelves, including the racks. These racks and drawers can be cleaned with the help of mild dish soap and warm water. Stubborn food spills on the refrigerator should not be removed with the help of a tough scrubber but can be covered with a wet and warm cloth before attempting to clean them. If required, a non-abrasive scrubber can be used to remove the stains. The wire racks in the refrigerator should be paid close attention to, as it is the major spot that attracts debris.

If the shelves and the drawers of the fridge interiors are not removable, then they can be cleaned with baking soda and water. Commercial cleaners are not advisable as they can easily transfer their scent to food. It is also a good idea to use brushing, picks and other suggested cleaning supplies to reach cracks and crevices that are not easily reachable with the help of a cloth. After the baking soda work, it has to be cleaned with a dry towel. 

3. Dealing with the obnoxious odor of the refrigerator

Our refrigerator is a storehouse of bad odors and indicates the buildup of microorganisms. But these foul refrigerator odors can be removed without using harsh chemical cleaners. Actually, with a regular cleaning routine, it is possible to keep such odors at bay. After rinsing and drying all surfaces, we can leave an opened can of dry baking soda on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator as it helps to absorb all the bad odor from affecting the food.

4. Cleaning the refrigerator coils

Though the refrigerator coils don’t come in direct contact with food, it is still important to clean its coils once in a while. We understand that it is tough to clean the coils as it is generally done by professionals, but cleaning them periodically can help the fridge to run better and to last longer.

The protocol to clean the coils of the refrigerator will be available in its user manual and also online. Before attempting to clean the refrigerator coil, it is important to unplug the refrigerator in the first place. The coils of the refrigerator are generally on the back or the underside of the refrigerator. Clean the coil with the help of a coil brush and sweep off any debris from the floor. Make sure to move the refrigerator away from the wall before attempting to clean the coils. After cleaning put the refrigerator back in its place and plug it back into the socket.

5. Dealing with mold build up in the refrigerator

It is common for refrigerators to develop mold when they are exposed to a damp and chill environment. To eliminate the mold inside the refrigerator it is a good idea to use bleach-based and abrasive cleaners. The best way to deal with mold is to mix baking soda and water and use the solution to clean the mold-affected surfaces. Excess moisture can be wiped off with the help of a dry cloth.

The best way is to clean even a bit of mold from a minor spill as and when it forms. In catastrophic conditions, when the refrigerator is full of mold, the best way is to seek professional help and get a refrigerator repair professional to take over the cleaning. 

6. Dealing with a stuck fridge door

Many times, the refrigerator door gets stuck up and gets hard to open. This is because the rubber gasket that lines the refrigerator door gets stuck with dirt and grime and forms a tight seal, which is hard to break at times. To remove the normal grime that accumulates on the fridge door, it is optimal to use warm water and liquid dish soap to remove the dirt. We can use a bleach-based cleaner to ward off mold. After the initial cleaning treatment, the gasket should be rinsed thoroughly and wiped dry. The seal should then be layered with thin petroleum jelly for ambient maintenance and to keep it away from drying out.

7. Clean the refrigerator drip pans

Some of the refrigerator models have a drip pan that collects the water that condenses from the refrigerator. To clean the drip pan efficiently, remove the grill from the bottom front of the refrigerator, and use a flashlight to locate the drip pan. There are all chances for the drip pans to get moldy over time and be a source of fungal infection at home. Thus, we have to remove the drip pan and clean it thoroughly before replacing it with the refrigerator. We may have to use bleaching powder to clean the drip pan. Dry and replace the drip pan in its position. 

You may like to read: How to Clean an Ice Machine?

Important Tips to Consider While Cleaning the Refrigerator

The refrigerator is one of the largest appliances in the kitchen, which doesn’t attract much cleaning ritual when we compare it to countertops and other kitchen surfaces. A clean refrigerator will last long and is definitely energy efficient. Here are some helpful tips and tricks that will make refrigerator cleaning a breeze.

1. Cleaning products that are required to clean the refrigerator

We can either use commercial cleaning supplies or make use of baking soda and water solutions to clean the refrigerator. Mix one part of baking soda with seven parts of water and use it for cleaning the fridge. The solution can be transported to the squirt bottle to help with cleaning. 

If small crevices in the refrigerator are hard to reach with the help of a cleaning towel or cloth, an old toothbrush can be used. Commercial cleaners are best to be avoided, as their smell can get transferred to the food items that are stored in the refrigerator. 

2. Empty the refrigerator before cleaning it

Pull all the things out of the refrigerator before cleaning it. While pulling them out, we can also check the food quality and the expiry date of packed food items. However, this is not required when you plan to clean only the exteriors of the refrigerator. Use warm or hot water to clean the refrigerator as it is efficient in cleaning the cold surfaces perfectly. 

3. Should you unplug the refrigerator before cleaning?

There is no need to unplug the refrigerator until you are planning to clean its coils. There is no need to unplug to clean the interiors and exteriors of the fridge.

4. Cleaning the fridge drawers and shelves

The best way is to remove the shelves and the drawers in the fridge and giving them a thorough wash with hot water and dish soap. If the shelves are of glass, then they should be brought to room temperature before washing as the change in temperature could cause cracks in them. Soak them in water for some time to remove tough and hardened stains. After cleaning them, wipe them dry with a towel before putting them back.

5. Working on sticky residues on the refrigerator

If your fridge is filled with sticky residues, then try cleaning them with soapy water, and then remove oil to remove the rest of the stains. Most sticky residues will ward off if we clean them with a cloth soaked in soapy water for a minute to help them loosen up. Later on, we can use any oil, including vegetable oil and mineral oil. A swab dipped in alcohol can also work wonders on the hardened residues.

6. Sanitizing the fridge

If you find spoiled food in the refrigerator while cleaning it, then it is good to sanitize it before refilling. The solution of liquid bleach in water is the best sanitizing reagent. Make this solution in the ratio of 1:5 and dip a dry cloth in the solution to wipe all over the interiors of the fridge. Make sure to sanitize the shelves and the drawers as well. Leave the fridge open for about ten minutes before refilling it, to let the fumes dissolve. 

7. It is okay to use fridge de-odorizes?

Using a commercial de-odorizing agent is not a good idea as its strong smell can contaminate the stored food items. An open container of baking soda serves as a natural absorbent of odor, though it doesn’t have an odor of its own. This can be left in the refrigerator for one or two months, before replacing it with a fresh box. Some people also use half-cut lemons to offer a fresh odor to the refrigerator. 

Related: Best Beverage Coolers

Bottom Line

Decluttering and organizing the fridge is the ideal solution to keep the fridge organized and free from odors. It is important to toss off any spoiled or expired food and group the like items together to keep the refrigerator organized at all times. The frequency of cleaning depends on the load it takes. Deep cleaning the fridge twice a year is optimal to get it working optimally. But when it comes to spills, and removing debris from the fridge, put your hands to work as it happens, to save your back from a hectic cleaning schedule.

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