How to Deep Clean Your Fridge Like a Pro in 14 Steps

Last Updated : November 18, 2022 /

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If you want to deep clean your entire fridge like a pro without actually hiring a maid service, there are some things you should know before getting started. 

how to deep clean fridge

The right deep clean fridge spray and a list of steps will help you tackle the job quickly and thoroughly

Whether you are looking for DIY fridge cleaning tips or to hire help, we at Upstairs Downstairs have the expertise to give you the clean and comfortable home you dream about. 

When to Deep Clean Your Fridge

While some instances will prompt you to clean your fridge, like a spill or leaky package, you should plan to do a deep clean at least every six months. A good rule of thumb is during spring cleaning and again before the holidays when your fridge will be packed with leftovers.

You’ll want to set aside a chunk of time so you can take everything out of the fridge and give it a good scrub. This can take one to two hours in total, so don’t get started at an inopportune time and leave food unrefrigerated. 

If possible, you can save time by planning your cleaning for a time when your fridge is looking bare, like before your weekly grocery trip. Again, spring cleaning is a good excuse to get motivated to purge your refrigerator. 

What You’ll Need

If you plan on taking everything out of your refrigerator so you can really get in there, a cooler is a good idea. Just pack all of the most perishable items in there while you dive in. This way, you can take out all removable shelves and fridge bins to make it easy.

For the actual scrubbing, you’ll want food-safe cleaning products or a homemade cleaning solution and spray bottle. These commonly include baking soda solutions, vinegar solutions, or store-bought all-purpose cleaners. Just be sure they are non-toxic and food-safe before using them in your fridge!

Besides that, you’ll want some paper towels and a damp microfiber cloth for wiping things down. For tough stains or food residue, consider scrubbing sponges or long-handled brushes. You may also want a vacuum for cleaning underneath your fridge.

14 Steps to Deep Clean Your Fridge

Once you have everything on your cleaning supplies list ready, follow these steps to clean your entire refrigerator thoroughly.

Turn Off the Refrigerator

While not strictly necessary, chances are you’ll have the refrigerator door open for an extended period of time. To save on electricity and for an extra layer of safety, consider unplugging the fridge altogether if the plug is easy to reach.

Remove all Food

To make things easier and faster, remove all food products from the fridge and store them in a cooler. This will allow you to remove all shelves and drawers so you can thoroughly clean everywhere. 

If everything won’t fit in your cooler, put the most perishable goods in and leave things like chocolate syrup or water bottles on the counter temporarily. The job shouldn’t take you more than an hour or two. If it does, consider how long these items have been unrefrigerated before returning them.

Remove shelves and drawers

Most fridge drawers and shelves are removable for cleaning and adjustment. Removing these elements and washing them in the sink is much easier than scrubbing them with paper towels in the refrigerator. This will also give you better access to the walls and other surfaces of a dirty fridge. 

Soak Removable Parts in Tub or Bin

For impossible sticky areas or stubborn stains, a good soak may be needed. This will also help warm up the shelves to make them easier to clean.

Clean the Refrigerator Interior

With shelves and drawers removed, you will have an easier time wiping down the walls of the fridge and reaching other non-removable surfaces. Spray or cover all these areas in your cleaning solution, then go back through and give them a good scrub to disinfect and remove any collected filth. 

Dry inside with a cloth

deep clean fridge

Once everything is wiped down, be sure to dry it. You don’t want to leave any more moisture than necessary in the fridge as it will be slow to dry on its own. You may even want to leave the door propped open to air dry if you have time. 

Clean the Refrigerator Exterior

If you have time, especially while other things are drying or soaking, give the fridge’s exterior a good dusting. If there are any stains or sticky spots, scrub them with the same solution you used on the interior. If your fridge shows fingerprints, which is common with stainless steel refrigerators, you can wipe them away now too.

Clean the door seals and gaskets

The rubber fridge door seal is prone to picking up dust and crumbs in the grooves and ridges. You’ll probably want a separate dry cloth or paper towel to get in there and give a good dusting. 

Vacuum the grate, kickplate, and coils

deep clean fridge vents

Refrigerators rely on airflow in and out as part of the cooling process. This means dust and pet hair often find their way into the vents and coils of the appliance. Grab a vacuum hose and give the bottom and back of your fridge some attention. Clean condenser coils can even make your fridge more efficient at dissipating heat, reducing energy costs. 

Replace all the Items From the Fridge

woman opening fridge

Once everything is clean and dry, and your shelves and drawers are replaced, you can move the food from the cooler back into the fridge. This is an excellent opportunity to adjust shelf heights and reorganize things for easier access.

Remove Items from the Freezer

Now that your fridge is clean and full again, and your cooler is empty, it is time to repeat the process on the freezer. Luckily, the freezer is usually smaller and much easier to clean. The first step is moving everything to the cooler; it should fit this time!

Wipe Down the inside of the freezer

You may have one shelf or a couple of drawers you can remove, so feel free to do so as in the steps above. Freezers tend to have fewer spills, so this may be less crucial. With the freezer empty, scrub it down and let it dry to avoid any additional moisture and ice build-up.

Throw Out the Ice

If you have an ice tray or ice machine in your freezer, now is a good time to empty them and clean the container. Despite the cold, icy environment, some microorganisms can still survive and become a health problem if you never clean your ice container

Replace Frozen Items

Once everything is clean and reset, you can move the food items back in from the cooler. You should plug the appliance back in and turn it on if you haven’t already. (It may be sensible to clean your fridge and freezer on different days to reduce the total off-time and warming up of either section)

Fridge Deep Cleaning Hacks

To save you time and effort with your deep clean fridge routine, keep these tips in mind:

  • Clean spills in your fridge immediately before they have a chance to cool and congeal
  • Clean the outside of food containers and packages before putting them in the fridge
  • Place packages with the potential to leak on a dishwasher-safe plate or tray
  • Line vegetable drawers with a paper towel or brown paper to absorb moisture and odors
  • Keep your fridge temperature low to reduce microorganism growth
  • A cluttered fridge cools less efficiently than one that allows airflow
  • Regularly check for expiration dates and moldy food to remove them from the fridge

These simple tricks and a regular cleaning regimen will help keep your refrigerator clean and fresh.

Enjoy Your Freshly Deep Cleaned Fridge!

Now that everything is spick and span, you can enjoy a bright, spotless refrigerator! If you don’t have the time or ability to do this yourself, consider hiring a deep cleaning service to tackle the job for you. 

woman standing next fridge with flowers in hands

A clean fridge can help your entire kitchen feel fresh, making food prep more fun. You can also rest easy knowing there are fewer germs around your family’s food

FAQs

How do I clean my fridge with vinegar?

For a simple vinegar-based cleaning solution for your fridge, mix two-part hot water with one-part white vinegar with a splash of vanilla extract for a pleasant scent. 

Should you turn off the fridge when cleaning?

While not strictly necessary, turning off your fridge has a couple of benefits. Keeping the door open will let the cold air out and your fridge will run a lot if still turned on, wasting electricity (and probably making you more uncomfortable with cold fridge air). 

There is also a slight risk of having the appliance plugged in while using liquid cleaning solutions or around melting ice. In general, however, the electrocution risk is less than that of wrestling the appliance out of its spot if you need to reach the plug. Use your best judgment. 

Why does my fridge still smell after cleaning it?

If your stinky fridge still has an odor after a deep clean, there may be a problem out of your reach. Assuming you didn’t miss anything inside, mold or bacteria could grow in the fridge’s drip tray or fans emitting an unpleasant smell. This may require a service call.

How do you deep clean and disinfect a refrigerator?

The best way is to remove everything from the fridge and wipe it down with a cleaning solution. This includes foodstuffs as well as removable plastic shelves and trays. You can find more in-depth steps above. 

How long does it take to deep clean a refrigerator?

Depending on the size of your fridge, how easy it is to remove the plastic or glass shelves, and if there are spills that need special attention, deep cleaning a refrigerator can take one to two hours

What is the best thing to clean the inside of a fridge with?

There are many homemade and store-bought solutions for cleaning your fridge. The most important thing is that you use a spray or cleaning solution that is 100% non-toxic and food-safe, as residue may be in contact with your food or food packaging. 

Common DIY solutions mix warm water with vinegar or baking soda. You can also buy a deep clean fridge spray or just use soapy water. Any mild soap or dish soap should be fine.

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