Did you know that listeria and other harmful bacteria can survive and reproduce in your fridge if it’s dirty enough? If you want the inside of your fridge to stay safe for storing leftovers, drinks, condiments, and other food, you must keep it clean.
Don’t know how? Our step-by-step cleaning fridge guide has you covered with everything you need to know to maintain a sparkling clean, hygienic refrigerator.
Your Comprehensive Cleaning Fridge Guide
If it’s your first time cleaning your fridge, or it’s been a while since you cleaned it, follow these steps:
1. Switch Off the Fridge
Turning off the fridge before cleaning it is crucial because it reduces the risk of electric shocks, especially if you own an old fridge. Turning off the fridge also gives it time to defrost so you can clean any frozen areas or stubborn spills.
2. Empty Your Fridge
While waiting for your fridge to defrost, empty its interior. Put your frozen foods and vegetables in coolers to prevent spoilage, and place shelf-stable canned or bottled items on your countertop. If you have inedible leftovers or produce, or expired items, throw them out to give your fridge a fresh start.
Avoid keeping anything you take out of the fridge on the floor, especially if you intend to return them to the fridge. Otherwise, the items could pick up germs that contaminate your newly cleaned fridge.
3. Prepare Your Cleaning Supplies
Once your fridge is empty, gather your cleaning supplies. Various cleaning solutions are available for cleaning fridges but avoid strong-smelling detergents and laundry treatments. These cleaners contain chemicals and scents that can compromise the taste and smell of refrigerated food.
You will need
- Hot water
- Baking soda
- An empty spray bottle
- A few microfiber towels or soft cloths
- A rough sponge or scrub brush
- Dish soap
- Vacuum cleaner (optional)
Mix one part vinegar with one part hot water to clean your fridge. This solution is potent enough to break down grease and other grime accumulated within your fridge. You can add two tablespoons of baking soda to the hot water and vinegar mix to eliminate smells from your fridge by destroying odor-producing acids.
For easy application, pour your hot water and vinegar (and optional baking soda) mix into a spray bottle. For wiping off your applied cleaning solution and grime, you will need two to three clean microfiber towels. Keep a sponge or scrub brush handy for tough stains.
4. Clean the Contents
While waiting for your fridge to defrost, you can start cleaning the bottles and other containers taken from the fridge. Plastic containers containing leftovers, mayonnaise jars, ketchup bottles, and similar items probably have sticky remnants. Returning these items to the fridge without cleaning them is equivalent to returning dirt to the fridge after the cleanup.
Even if the bottles, jars, and bowls don’t seem dirty, still wipe them down with a damp microfiber cloth to get rid of germs and residual odors. If the container is very dirty with crusted gunk around the lid, wash it under warm water in the sink.
5. Clean the Shelves and Drawers
Take out your fridge’s drawers and shelves for a thorough cleaning. Wash these in the kitchen sink with warm water and soap to eliminate stubborn grime. If you can’t detach the shelves or drawers, wipe them clean in the fridge with your vinegar solution and microfiber cloth.
6. Wipe the Interior
If you take out the fridge shelves and drawers to clean, make sure they are dry before returning them. While the fridge is empty, give the interior a thorough wipe down with your vinegar solution and a microfiber towel. After cleaning, use a separate dry cloth to eliminate any leftover moisture.
7. Empty the Drip Pan
If you can access your fridge’s drip pan, take it out from under your fridge and pour out the accumulated water. Stagnant water in the drip pan can create a breeding ground for mold and pests. Take out the pan, wash it with soapy water, and dry it before returning it.
For irremovable pans, use paper towels or an absorbent cloth to remove the accumulated water. Scrub the inside of the pan with a sponge or scrub brush, then use a cloth to wipe it clean.
8. Clean the Coils
Dirty condenser coils reduce your fridge’s efficiency and lifespan. These dirty coils prevent heat from escaping, leading to an overworked compressor that wears out faster.
Buying a new fridge can be expensive. Avoid having to dispose of your current fridge sooner than necessary by cleaning its condenser coils at least twice a year. Make sure to unplug your fridge before cleaning the coils. You can use a scrub brush to remove the dirt or use your vacuum’s crevice attachment for the job.
9. Wipe Down the Exterior
After cleaning the fridge’s interior, wipe the doors, sides, and top with mild soap and water. Pay special attention to the handles and other frequently touched surfaces.
10. Keep It Fresh
Once you have finished following this cleaning fridge guide, you can reinstall the drawers and shelves. Prevent fridge odors by placing a refrigerator freshener or an open container of baking soda at the rear of the fridge. You can then replace your drinks and foods and enjoy the beautiful sight and peace of mind that comes with a spotless fridge.
Signs It’s Time to Clean Your Fridge
Leaving food in the fridge for prolonged periods creates opportunities for mold and bacteria to grow. The two common types of bacteria seen in fridges are pathogenic and spoilage bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria, like listeria, can thrive in cold conditions and cause foodborne illness. Spoilage bacteria cause your food to spoil faster or develop unpleasant tastes and odors.
Since bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, use these signs to determine when your fridge is due for a cleaning:
- Stains on the interior
- Unusual smells
- Sticky surfaces
- Lots of spoiled food or food spoiling faster than usual
- Mold growth
For maximum safety, regardless of whether you see any of the above signs, deep clean your fridge every three to four months.
The Go-To Junk Removal Company for Eco-Friendly Services in the Bay Area
If you have followed our cleaning fridge guide, but your fridge is beyond saving, reach out to our Nixxit Junk Removal team for eco-friendly junk removal services from a certified California Green Business. We are a locally owned, woman-owned full-service junk removal company that serves homes and businesses all over the Bay Area. No junk is too big or too small!
You can count on us for quick, safe, and professional junk removal services regardless of the size of your fridge or other broken-down appliances. Schedule a pickup today with our fully licensed and insured team for a Nixxit junk removal pick up anywhere in the Bay Area.