Is your fridge caked with everything but the kitchen sink? Weeks of spoiled produce, condiment volcanos, and forgotten leftovers can take a toll (and wreak havoc on your nose every time you grab a snack). Here’s how to clean your refrigerator so it’s good enough to eat off of.
Simple project; big impact.
Just a short shopping trip (or online order).
What you'll need:
- Sponge (ideally with a scratch-free, scrubby side)
- Small scrub brush or old toothbrush
- Cloth or paper towel
- Spray bottle (optional)
- Dish soap
- Baking soda
- Shaving cream (optional)
- Multipurpose disinfectant cleaner (optional)
Unplug the Fridge
It's a good idea to unplug your fridge before beginning the cleaning process. While it's unlikely your fridge will get damaged by leaving the power on while the doors are opened, it’ll still eat up unnecessary power.
Empty Out (and Declutter) the Fridge’s Contents
Start by clearing the fridge of all its contents. As you pull them out, check expiration dates and toss anything that has spoiled, along with the foods that nobody in your home cares for. Be discerning here: If you're never going to touch that jar of sauerkraut again, toss it regardless of the expiration date. The less you hold onto, the easier it'll be to keep your fridge organized.
Wash Removable Parts in Hot, Soapy Water
The best way to clean a fridge is to take out all removable shelves, trays, and drawers. Wash these in a sink filled with hot water and dish soap. If there’s a lot of stuck-on goop, fill drawers up with hot, soapy water to soak as you clean the rest of the fridge.
"You will save time and energy by removing any parts that are able to be removed and washing them in the hot soapy water in your sink or a large bucket," said Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dustbusters, a family-owned and operated janitorial company in Williamsport, PA.
Clean the Inside of the FridgePhoto: monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images
Grab your bucket and fill it with a dilution of your preferred cleaner or a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar. Then, use your sponge to clean in, around, and underneath every surface. Use a small scrub brush or old toothbrush to get into any crevices. Dip back into the bucket frequently to keep your cleaning tools clean.
Tackle Difficult Stains With Baking Soda
If you can't eliminate the orange spot left from last week's hot sauce accident, add a small amount of water to baking soda and make a paste. Apply this to the stain, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wipe it up with a cloth or paper towel. Follow with a quick swipe from your sponge.
Put Back the Fridge’s Removable Parts
Before replacing the removable parts in the fridge, ensure everything is fully dry and squeaky clean. Then, place them back into the refrigerator as they were.
Banish Lingering Odors With Baking Soda
If you can still smell the odor from that spoiled lunch meat you threw away, place an open box of baking soda in the fridge. This age-old trick will absorb the extra odor. Keep this in the fridge for up to three months to keep a fresh fridge.
Wipe Down and Replace the Fridge’s ContentsPhoto: PonyWang / E+ / Getty Images
Once the inside is sparkling clean, start putting the contents back in. Keep a hot, damp rag handy to clean off any residue before placing them back into the fridge.
Plug the Fridge In
When you're done cleaning and restocking, plug your fridge back in.
Clean the Outside of the Fridge
After everything is ready to go, give the outside of your fridge a wipe-down. For stainless steel, you can even use shaving cream to clean and get it shiny. If the rubber gaskets around the edge are intact, you’re done! Celebrate by opening the door and pondering what you’ll have for a snack. For moldy gaskets, proceed to the next step.
Clean the Gaskets
If you spot mold around the refrigerator's gaskets, spray it down with undiluted vinegar and go to town with your toothbrush or small scrub brush. Vinegar is an underrated cost-efficient cleaning solution. It will take care of the black spots and kill off any remaining spores.
Tips to Keep Your Fridge Clean
The easiest way to cut down on the time you spend deep cleaning your fridge is to keep it clean every other day. Follow these tips to keep your fridge sparkling clean with minimal effort.
Clean spills as soon as they happen.
Clean containers before storing them in the fridge.
Toss out leftovers regularly.
Be sure all containers are sealed tightly.
Vacuum up any crumbs.
Frequently Asked Questions
After clearing away crumbs and other debris, using a store-bought cleaner that is safe for use inside of your refrigerator is the best way to clean your fridge. If you’d rather opt for a DIY solution, we share a great one above using baking soda and vinegar.
You should wipe up spills inside of your fridge as soon as they happen, but aim to deep clean your fridge every three to six months. You’ll probably want to give the outside a wipe more often, though, about once every other week.
Putting off cleaning your fridge is a bad idea for a few reasons. For one, any food spills can build up, making it much harder to clean your fridge when you finally do get around to it. Plus, any stray pickle juice or leaky leftovers are a recipe for a stinky fridge.
But beyond that, if you don’t clean your fridge, it could be a health hazard. Old food can turn moldy and old spills can too. Even if none of that scares you, putting off cleaning your fridge will make it look downright gross, which should be reason enough to break out your sponge.