Deep Clean Your Fridge With These Simple Steps

Side view woman cleaning fridge

The fridge is one of the most-utilised appliances in the home, and yet it often doesn’t receive the care and attention that it deserves. If you've let your fridge go for too long and you are looking for a way to take back your space, you may need a good deep cleaning. It can be difficult to figure out the best way to go about things, and especially when you may or may not be able to take out shelves and certain pieces that really need a little TLC.

If your fridge has seen some better times, it could take you less than an hour to give it new life with a simple cleaning regimen that might prove to be even easier than you ever suspected. There are obviously a few different options for how to get your fridge really good and clean, but you’re at least starting in the right place by exploring your options. This guide will give you all of the tips and insight you need to get your fridge deep cleaned with less effort and fewer chemicals than you think.

Preparation and Cleaning

One of the biggest and most important steps in deep cleaning your fridge and freezer is to remove everything from them. That means all the food has to come out and remain on the counter (or be stored in another fridge or freezer if you’re lucky enough to have a second one) until you’re done. For this reason, it’s often best to wait until you dwindle down your groceries so that you have less to remove or worry about leaving out for too long.

Of course, it’s not going to take so long to clean your fridge that anything will actually spoil. It's more about the effort of taking everything out and putting it back. If it’s time to go shopping, it’s a good time to clean the fridge before you go.

Remove What You Can

Woman cleaning inside fridge

Once all of the food is out of the fridge, you’ll need to take out any shelves, drawers, and other detachable parts that can be cleaned separately and replaced. It will be much easier to clean things if they aren’t in the fridge, after all. Many of the shelves and drawers will even fit in the average kitchen sink, making cleaning a breeze. Once everything that can possibly be removed has been taken out, you’ll be able to clean what’s left. Use a mixture of water and baking soda (one gallon to one cup, respectively), and wipe down all of the surfaces.

After you’ve wiped everything down, use a wet rag or paper towel to wipe off any residue. Then, you’ll be able to start putting things back together. In some cases, you may be dealing with stubborn odours or a fridge that has been neglected for too long. If that is the case, you’ll want to follow the same cleaning instructions, but with a plan for storing your food elsewhere for 24 hours. Once you have completed the cleaning and secured other food storage, you’ll want to unplug the fridge overnight, leaving the doors open to air everything out. You will be able to put everything back the next morning and you will notice that the odours are gone.

Wash the Removable Parts

woman with rubber gloves cleaning fridge

Using hot water and regular dish detergent, you can wash all of the drawers and shelves that were removed from your fridge and freezer. If there are stubborn stains or sticky messes, you can leave the pieces to soak in the sink (or your bathtub, if you need more space) before scrubbing them clean. Another option is to use a solution of one part bleach to four parts water to really clean and disinfect all of the pieces that you have removed from the fridge.

What If That Doesn’t Work?

washing fridge hand cleaning

In the event that you’ve taken the above steps and are still dealing with stubborn odours, it might be something elsewhere in the refrigerator or freezer unit where you cannot readily see or access the source of the smell. You may need to access the back panel of the appliance to see if there is any build-up on the evaporator coils. To do this, leave the fridge unplugged and make sure that you unplug any wires along the way.

Once you have located the coils, you can spray them with hot, soapy water and wipe them with a microfiber cloth. Allow the coils to air dry before replacing the panel and putting the wiring back together. You can also check the drip pan under the fridge. You'll usually have to remove the grille that covers the front of the fridge at the base, and then you will find the pan. It may be full of water, so be careful to mop it up before just pulling it out.

Some drip pans can be removed and cleaned in the sink. Others may be fixed, which means they will need to be cleaned with a long-handled brush or by someone with smaller hands. Either way, cleaning this can alleviate a lot of mouldy and other foul odours coming from your fridge.

Important: Always unplug appliances when you are cleaning them or removing access panels to protect yourself from the risk of electric shock and protect the appliance from damage.

Maintenance Is Key

An infographic summarizing how to deep clean a fridge

One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t have to worry about deep cleaning your fridge very often is to keep it clean on a regular basis. With regular wipe-downs and by getting rid of food before it spoils, you’ll alleviate the threat of a lot of odours and build-up that could lead to the need to deep clean the fridge in the first place. If you do need a thorough cleaning, the tips and steps in this guide should help. Just make sure that you do whatever it takes to c5lean and disinfect the fridge so that it continues to be a safe place to store food for your family.

Complete this guide with us on the 15th of November, the annual national clean out your refrigerator day.

For more helpful guides and resources to assist in keeping your home and office clean, keep an eye on our blog for regular updates.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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