Whether you’re reaching for a chilled bottle of water or letting the meat for dinner slowly defrost, you depend on your refrigerator to keep things cold. Despite it being an integral part of your kitchen, you may not give much thought to all the parts that keep your fridge humming along. Your refrigerator coils, for instance, have to work pretty hard and frequently end up full of dust and grime.
Once those coils are dirty, your fridge goes into overdrive, and that can eventually lead to this trustworthy appliance breaking down, causing you to need fridge repairs sooner than you’d like. But don’t despair—there’s an easy solution that will take less than an hour of your time. Here’s how to clean your refrigerator coils.
Photo: Dominique VERNIER / Adobe Stock
Preparing Your Refrigerator and Surrounding Area
Start by getting all your supplies and tools ready to go. Next, you’ll need to slide the refrigerator out (you may need assistance here). You’ll probably need to be able to access the back of the fridge, so make sure it’s a good distance away from any walls. You can find your condenser coils in a few spots. If you have an old refrigerator (10 years or older), the coils are probably going to be along the back of the fridge. Newer models often have their coils at the bottom of the refrigerator. If you have trouble locating them, check your owner's manual for help.
Unplug Your Fridge
Once the tools are ready and you can easily reach the coils, it’s time to unplug the refrigerator. Because cleaning the coils doesn’t take too long, all the contents inside the fridge will stay cold as long as you leave the door closed.
Brush and Vacuum the Coils
Start by using the wand attachment to gently vacuum all the obvious dirt and dust off the coils and any debris hiding underneath the refrigerator. Next, place the large piece of cardboard on the floor where you are working. Now use the coil cleaning brush to get in between the coils and loosen additional dirt and particles, which will fall onto the cardboard.
If you need to pop off the grill to reach the coils, give that a once-over with the vacuum wand attachment before putting it back on the refrigerator.
Use Baby Wipes
If the vacuum didn't get all of the gunk, a baby wipe is a great way to pick up the remnants. They work well because they're damp, helping them pick up stubborn bits of dust. Tip: If you don't have any baby wipes handy, a damp cloth works, too.
Dust With a Paintbrush
If you're a perfectionist, then there's one more step. Use a paintbrush to reach those nooks and crannies you couldn't get to with the baby wipe or cloth. Optional addition: If a paintbrush isn't doing the trick alone, pair it with some canned air. Spray the air in any stubborn places and then brush away the loosened dust.
Clean up and Plug the Fridge Back In
Photo: panithi33 / Adobe Stock
Once you’ve brushed away as much gunk as possible, clean up the supplies and surrounding area. It’s a good idea to keep all the tools together since you’ll need them when you tackle the refrigerator coils again in a few months. Finally, slide your refrigerator back into its spot and plug it in.
DIY vs. Hiring a Pro to Clean Fridge Coils
If you don’t have the necessary tools on hand or don’t have the time to tackle this project, consider calling a local house cleaning pro to take care of this and other cleaning tasks. Many house cleaners will offer this service as an add-on, ranging from $50 to $100, depending on where the coils are located and how dirty they are. Not only will this take the task off of your plate, but you’ll be assured the job is done correctly.
Why should I clean my refrigerator coils?
Dirty coils force your refrigerator to work much harder than it needs to, causing higher energy bills.