How to Deep Clean a Refrigerator

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Your refrigerator works hard to keep your food fresh all day, every day. Food spills, spoiled food, and excess moisture are inevitable, which is why your refrigerator will benefit from a good, deep cleaning every once in a while.

Don't wait until your refrigerator starts smelling like rotten food - clean your refrigerator weekly by giving the refrigerator shelves a wipe down with a damp microfiber cloth, and deep clean your refrigerator every month or so to keep it working in good condition longer. In this article, we'll show you the proper way of deep cleaning your fridge:

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What You'll Need

Believe it or not, you don't need fancy tools to deep clean a refrigerator. In fact, you probably already have these supplies in your cleaning closet, or your kitchen pantry! Cleaning a fridge is relatively simple, but many people forget to clean refrigerator coils, the fridge door, and other areas of the refrigerator as they focus on the fridge interior. Here's what you'll need:

  • Hot or warm water
  • Mild dish soap
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Baking soda OR
  • Charcoal - for deodorizing
  • Clean cloths OR
  • Paper towel
  • Scrub brush
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How to Clean Refrigerator: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Clear Out the Refrigerator

First, unplug your refrigerator from its power source. Remove all the contents of your fridge. It would be helpful to clean your fridge right before you go grocery shopping, or when there's the least amount of perishables inside your fridge to ensure your food safety. Clear out all the contents of your fridge, and remove the shelves and drawers as well.

Start cleaning on a blank slate. You will need to clean the shelves and drawers separately to get a thorough clean of your fridge interior. Keep your foodstuffs in a cooler with some ice in the meantime to keep them from going bad while you clean your fridge.

Step 2: Wipe Refrigerator Clean

Use a soft cloth dampened with some soapy water to wipe your fridge clean. Make a soapy water solution using 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 2 cups of plain, hot water, and this should be effective enough to clean your refrigerator without leaving a soapy smell behind. You can also use vinegar to wipe the fridge, but this may leave an off-putting odor.

Wipe everything from the interior of your refrigerator, to the shelves, drawers, doors, and more. Clean the door handles, sides of the fridge, and underneath the refrigerator as well. Use a brush to scrub the dirt away from hard-to-reach areas, and wipe the residue away with a soft, clean cloth or paper towel.

Step 3: Clean Refrigerator Coils

Don't forget to clean your refrigerator coils! Clean them the same way by wiping them down with the soapy solution. However, you may need to use the scrub brush to get a deeper clean, especially around the nooks of the condenser coils. Use a damp cloth to "rinse" the coils of the soap solution. Let the coils dry.

Step 4: Disinfect the Refrigerator

Use an unscented spray disinfectant, such as alcohol or commercial aerosol disinfectant, and sanitize your fridge. Place the disinfectant on the inside and outside of the refrigerator, focusing on high-touch areas like the handle and door, as well as the vegetable crisper and drawers as these come in direct contact with food.

Step 5: Let Dry, and Place Food Back Properly

Let the fridge dry, plug the machine back in, and place your food back in an organized manner. Use fridge baskets to keep your food in place. Clear, plastic or acrylic organizers will help categorize your food, while keeping track of them. Use breathable baskets to keep fruits and vegetables fresh, and store eggs safely in the egg compartment.

There are many references online where you can find inspiration on how to organize your fridge. We'll provide just one of many organization systems below, which organizes food by shelf, but you can find other references online specific to your lifestyle and fridge model!

Step 6: Deodorize Refrigerator

To keep your fridge from smelling like a smorgasbord of food, place baking soda in a small jar, and cover with a piece of gauze, cheese cloth, or other breathable fabrics to keep it from spilling. Change the baking soda every 30 days, or when its effectiveness starts to falter. This should absorb the odors from your fridge.

Bonus: Clean the Ice Maker and Water Dispenser

If your stainless steel fridge has an ice maker, water dispenser, or both, here's how to clean these parts: For the ice maker, remove the ice basket from the fridge, and wash this by hand with some dish soap and water. Let it dry before placing it back into the fridge. Wipe the ice nozzles with a cloth dampened with hot water to clean them.

For the water dispenser line, fill the reservoir with lemon juice, and let it run through the entire dispenser. The lemon juice should remove grime, kill mold, and dissolve mineral deposits along the way. Plus, lemon juice is a safer, more palatable option compared to using vinegar or soap. Do a rinse cycle with plain water to remove traces of lemon juice.

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Keeping Your Refrigerator Organized


For your own safety, set the temperature of your refrigerator to 5 degree Celsius and below. Any higher than 5 degrees already risks growing bacteria on food, which will cause your food to spoil quicker, and make them unsafe for consumption.

Top Shelf

The top shelf may or may not have its own slide-out drawer - it all depends on your fridge model. However, this is the optimal area for food items that need a consistent temperature. Butters, cheeses, and deli meats can go into top drawers, while the upper shelves are great for placing leftovers and snacks at an eye level.

Middle Shelf

The middle shelf has a moderately cool temperature, and this shelf has the optimal coolness to store dairy products like milk and yogurt to keep them from spoiling quickly. Eggs, prepared salads, sodas, packaged food, and other similar items can be placed on the middle shelf as well, as the middle shelf has the best circulation of cool air to keep these items fresh and cold.

Bottom Shelf

The bottom shelf is the coolest part of your fridge, and thus can be used to store raw meats and seafood that you may be thawing for food preparation. Placing raw food on the bottom shelf also helps to prevent drippings from getting into your milk, soda cans, or salads. However, we suggest adding a drip pan underneath raw food to catch any drips.

Bottom Drawers

The bottom drawers often come in two compartments, where you can separate your fruits from your vegetables. Lining your drawers with a paper bag, paper towels, or kitchen towels will help keep your fruits and vegetables fresh as these absorb excess condensation that could otherwise cause leafy greens to go limp.

Fridge Doors

The fridge doors are the least cool areas in a refrigerator, so you can keep items that do not require low temperatures in this area. Sodas, fruit juices, condiments, and even skincare products can be placed here by weight: with the lighter ones on top, and the heavier ones on the bottom to keep the fridge door balanced.

Eggs would typically have a separate compartment by the fridge door as well, and some refrigerators have a compartment for butter. Avoid storing heavy items on the fridge doors to keep them from collapsing.

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The Hassle-Free Solution

Luce Home is the hassle-free solution to cleaning your fridge! Our home cleaning services get deep into your refrigerator to clean everything from the interior to the condenser coils! Trust in our expert cleaners, and experience a hassle-free way of maintaining your household.

Looking for more kitchen cleaning tips? Head over to our blog for more articles on cleaning stoves, ovens, microwaves, and more! 

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