Home Cleaning Tips

How to Clean a Refrigerator

Even the germaphobes among us seem to forget how important it is to regularly wash their refrigerators. It may not seem like a very consequential chore, but just think of all the food your fridge holds and the spills it endures—the spare drops of milk, the old slimy lettuce, the raw chicken, the moldy cheese. And to think, that’s where you store food before you put it in your mouth and swallow it!

So when was the last time you cleaned your fridge? And I’m not talking about a quick wipe-down. I mean really, truly, properly cleaning it so that it was left not only crumb- and spill-free, but sparkling and sanitized? Yeah, I thought so . . . It’s time to learn how to clean a refrigerator!

Learning how to clean a refrigerator is simple, and it will eliminate all of the bacteria and odors lingering in your fridge. To start, you’ll need to wait until your fridge is at its most empty. Remove all of the remaining food (you can set it on your countertop if you like, as the cleaning process won’t take so long that the food will spoil). Then, unplug the refrigerator and turn off the temperature control. You’re ready to get started!

How to Clean a Refrigerator

How to Clean a Refrigerator

  1. So that you’re not stretching awkwardly into the appliance, remove any pieces of the refrigerator that are removable. Wash these pieces first using warm water and baking soda/dish soap (Note: if you use dish soap, only apply a little and wash it off thoroughly afterward because the smell can linger and taint foods). Also, be careful with any glass pieces. A sudden change in temperature might cause the glass to crack, so let them come to room temperature before you submerge them in warm water. You can complete this first step in your sink if it’s large enough, but if not, try using your bathtub or another large bucket or tub.
  2. While the removable pieces are drying, use a small, wet brush (a toothbrush works great) and baking powder to scrub the brackets and gaskets. It’s important to use a powder cleanser because bacteria thrives in moist environments. Wipe clean afterward.
  3. Using a paper towel and vinegar, wipe the fridge’s interior. After you’ve washed and dried the entire interior, you can replace the removable parts.
  4. Now that the interior is clean and dry, start working on the exterior. Begin by cleaning the top of the fridge with warm water and a multi-purpose cleaner (Note: if your fridge is stainless steel, you’ll need a stainless steel cleaner). Then, move down the sides. Spend a little extra time scrubbing around the handle with a small brush. Keep working until you’ve reached the bottom of the fridge.
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