How to Clean Refrigerator the Right Way: A Complete Guide

Refrigerators are among the greatest inventions ever created. They help us preserve food and keep our perishables fresh for extended periods. Therefore, knowing how to clean refrigerator correctly is essential to keep it running smoothly.

Cleaning a fridge can be easier than you think, but the benefits outweigh it. If you are new to this appliance or still clean your refrigerator instinctively, read our comprehensive guide in this post.


Preparation: Gather Necessary Cleaning Supplies

Preparing for your cleaning is just as crucial as actually cleaning. The more you prepare, the easier it will be. Having the right supplies for cleaning will be a great place to start.

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Mild dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Stainless steel cleaner (for refrigerators made of stainless steel)
  • Fridge cleaning spray (optional)

Preparing a homemade natural refrigerator cleaner

Why should you use natural cleaners for refrigerators? The answer is simple: It’s better for the environment and your health.

Natural cleaners are made of all-natural ingredients and are much safer than chemical ones. They also don’t contain any harmful chemicals, which means they don’t have any side effects on your health.

These cleaners work by scrubbing away dirt and grime without soaking into your refrigerator’s interior walls, so they won’t leave behind residue or damage your appliance.

Here are some formulas that you can use to make your natural cleaners.

  • Vinegar and water

Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 1/2 cup water, then pour it into a spray bottle. Spray on the fridge’s surface and wipe off with a paper towel. Repeat as needed until the surface is clean.

  • Baking soda and water

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with 1/2 cup warm water in a bowl, then add just enough water to make it into a paste. Let the paste sit on the refrigerator surfaces for 10 minutes, then wipe it away with a paper towel.

Use this method only when necessary because it’s an abrasive cleaner that can damage surfaces over time.

  • Baking soda and vinegar
How to clean refrigerator with baking soda and vinegar

Add two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) to a glass measuring cup.

Then apply this mixture to areas where food spills often occur on your refrigerator’s surface so that you can clean them without damaging them further. That will help prevent bacteria from growing in these areas and keep things smelling fresh!


How to Clean The Refrigerator Step-by-Step

While the refrigerator is an essential kitchen appliance, it’s also one of the most neglected household surfaces.

Over time, food residue and stains can build up on the outside of a refrigerator and inside its drawers and shelves. Forgotten perishables in the back will give off funky smells whenever you open them.

To keep your refrigerator in good condition and eliminate unpleasant odors, follow these steps to clean a refrigerator inside and out:

Step1: Empty the Refrigerator

Removing food and storing it safely. That is also an excellent time to throw away spoiled foods or items past their expiration date.

Then you should remove all removable parts, such as shelves and drawers, to clean them individually. Cleaning will be much easier if these items are outside the refrigerator.

Before cleaning, let your refrigerator stand at room temperature for several hours.

Step 2: Cleaning the Interior of the Refrigerator

Wiping down surfaces with a cleaning solution

Wiping down the interior of your refrigerator is an excellent way to keep it looking nice and tidy. Just use a damp cloth or paper towel, then wipe down surfaces with your cleaning solution of choice. Be sure to wipe over all fridge areas, including underneath, behind, and on all sides.

Deep cleaning with natural cleaners follows three formulas we listed above: Vinegar and water, baking soda and water, or baking soda and vinegar.

Cleaning refrigerator shelves, drawers, and other removable parts

Cleaning refrigerator
Cre: The Home Depot

Wash the pieces with warm water and dish soap at the proper temperature. Remove excess moisture with a soft sponge or dishcloth before drying thoroughly with towels.

Tips for cleaning hard-to-reach areas

  • Use a cool mist spray bottle filled with warm water. Spray the water into the hard-to-reach areas of your refrigerator, then wipe them down with a damp cloth or sponge.
  • Use an old toothbrush and a damp cloth to clean around anything hard to reach, like the inside of your freezer bin or under your ice maker compartment cover.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner, if needed, to clean up any remaining dust and debris.
  • If your refrigerator has a self-cleaning feature, it will help remove dust from the interior.

Addressing unpleasant odors and stains

Determining the source is the first step to addressing unpleasant odors and stains. If you find the smell inside the refrigerator, try cleaning up spills or removing spoiled food.

Suppose there is no obvious source for the odor, and it’s just a constant smell. In that case, you may need to get your refrigerator professionally serviced.

Place an open container of baking soda on the bottom shelf to keep your refrigerator smelling fresh. That will absorb any odors from lingering near food and should be left in place when you refill your fridge.

Another way to address this is with a deodorizer. They work by absorbing moisture, which prevents the growth of bacteria that produce odor.

Tips: How to clean the refrigerator without turning it off?

Try washing and drying the shelves, bins, and other refrigerator parts with cold water if you can’t turn them off. Cover difficult-to-remove messes on hard surfaces with a moist warm dish towel for several minutes before attempting to remove them.

Step 3: Cleaning the Exterior of the Refrigerator

Wiping down the exterior surfaces

Wiping down the exterior surfaces
Cre: Maid2Match

To remove debris, wipe down the outside of your refrigerator with a damp cloth. Use a sponge or soft cloth to clean around the edges and along the sides of your refrigerator.

You can also use a soft brush to scrub away any stains. If you have stubborn stains, try using white vinegar on them.

Cleaning the door seal

The door seal (or gasket) is integral to your refrigerator because it keeps food fresh by preventing humidity from entering.

The best way to make it clean is to use a toothbrush and a soft cloth. You should not use bleach as it may damage the gasket.

And keep in mind that you should not peel off the door seal to wash them, even by hand or using the dishwasher. Reinstalling them into your refrigerator is complex and will badly affect the function of your fridge.

Cleaning refrigerator coils or fan

The coil and fan are located on the back of your refrigerator and can be accessed by removing the rear panel. Clean the coils and fan every six months.

If they are dirty or rusty, use a vacuum cleaner to do the cleaning. Be careful not to use anything abrasive or harsh, like steel wool or chemicals.

Cleaning the floor under and around the fridge

Ensure the floor around, under, and behind your refrigerator is free from dust or debris. That will help prevent problems with your refrigerator’s compressor or cooling system.

Tips for maintaining a clean refrigerator exterior

  • Wipe spills immediately
  • Use a microfiber cloth to avoid streaks
  • Clean with warm, soapy water
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners
  • Remember the top: Make sure to clean the top of the fridge regularly, as it can collect dust, grease, and other debris.

Step 4: Reassembling and Organize the Refrigerator

Putting shelves, drawers, and other removable parts back in place

How to clean refrigerator - Reassembling
Cre: Samsung

This step is easy if you organize everything before removing it from the refrigerator; reverse this process.

However, if you forgot to do this and struggle to find the right parts and figure out where they go, use the following tips: Read the manual to learn where each piece belongs.

When removing all parts from the refrigerator, please take note of any wires or cables that connect them. Label each item with a sticky note, so you know exactly where it goes back in place.

Organizing food items for optimal storage and cleanliness

The best way to organize food is by type of food and its expiration date. That will make it easier to find what you need and avoid cross-contamination between food groups.

Fridge organization sets, and accessories will make your job easier. Check out our complete refrigerator organization guides for a systematic and expertized approach to this task.

Regular Maintenance Tips

Routine maintenance is the key to maintaining a clean refrigerator. Following the steps above, you can keep your refrigerator sparkling and ready for use whenever needed.



How often should you clean your fridge?

Ideally, cleaning your fridge deep every few months and cleaning up any spills as soon as they happen to prevent the spread of bacteria is recommended.
How can you tell if your refrigerator needs to be cleaned? Look for signs of mold or mildew, discoloration on the walls, and leaking water from the bottom. If any of these things are in your fridge, it’s time for a deep clean!

Is bleach safe for cleaning the refrigerator?

Cleaning the refrigerator with bleach can be safe if done correctly. You should follow the label directions on the bleach product and wear protective equipment.
However, some experts advise against using bleach directly on the fridge since it can degrade the internal materials and provide a health risk if it gets into the food.
Suppose you’d still like to use bleach. In that case, we suggest using a tablespoon of bleach diluted with a gallon of water to sanitize the fridge’s inside and then dry thoroughly before returning shelves and drawers to their original place.
Alternatively, vinegar can be used as an effective cleaner for the fridge.

What is the best natural way to clean a fridge?

The mixture of warm water, white vinegar, and baking soda is one of the most effective ways to clean a refrigerator. Shake well, and it’s ready! This mixture will allow you to naturally clean and disinfect the inside of your fridge and its various compartments.


Final words

We hope the tips on how to clean the refrigerator will help you keep your device clean in the future. As I mentioned earlier, maintaining a clean refrigerator is incredibly important for the health of yourself, your family, and even your pets. It is always possible to change your cleaning routine. So start today!

If there’s anything else you’d like to discuss about this process or how we did it on our fridge (the essential piece of household equipment), feel free to let me know in the comments below.


Karyn is an IIN Health Coach certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition since 2021, with a passion for cooking and exercise, especially yoga. She brings her expertise in Nutrition and Fitness to Hometoppicks, leading both the Kitchen and Home Gym sections to provide credible product recommendations. Karyn is committed to guiding readers on their healthy living journey with her expert tips and trusted product suggestions. You can find more about her here.

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