All you need to know about cleaning fridge: fast, deep clean and odor removal

Updated on:

November 17, 2022

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How to clean a fridge | Fridge cleaning with steam

A sparkling fridge is always nice to look into instead of the one that has food spills and unnecessary clutter inside of it. Deep cleaning it from time to time will help you make sure that you are not storing spoiled and ensuring food safety for your household. No matter whether your refrigerator has a plastic door or a metal one, stains are unavoidable. Stainless steel appliances are easily stained, and if you have kids that do not always wash their hands, you might encounter yourself with a lot of those.

In this guide, we will show you how to clean refrigerators and its surfaces, inside and out, freezers, and condenser coils.

Table of Contents

wiping fridge when cleaning

How to clean a refrigerator

A quick clean of your fridge should not take a long time if you have been keeping up with your deep cleaning. Here's a step-by-step:

Before you start cleaning

Check your owner's manual to see suggested cleaning instructions. If the refrigerator shelves are removable, you may not need to turn off the fridge. However, if they are not, to save the energy bill from racking up for keeping the fridge door open, turning it off will be the best thing to do.

1. Check for spoiled food (maintenance)

If you are someone that does a lot of cooking or does not have time to keep track of everything, checking for spoiled food regularly can help free up space and avoid bad fridge odor. Things like dairy products expire faster than most things, so always be on the lookout that you are not pouring expired milk into your coffee. Jam jars should be opened as well, mold can start forming without you noticing.

2. Remove all food

Checking your refrigerator shelves and drawers for any unwanted food. Fill your sink with ice to to keep food that needs to stay cool from spoiling. Food that can be stored at room temperature (vegetables, fruits, butter and etc) can be put on the counter space.

3. Wipe the fridge

With a damp cloth, wipe all the refrigerator shelves and drawers of the fridge. If there is any debris or spills in the crevices, slide them out and wipe them as well.

food storage containers will keep you fridge away from odors

3. Leftovers

Investing in food storage containers of various can be helpful if you are someone who cooks for more than one day. If you have eaten some of the leftovers but have not finished them, putting them into smaller containers will save you a lot of space.

home portable steam cleaner
Home steam cleaner

How to disinfect the fridge with a steam cleaner

1. Remove all food

Paying special attention to what food needs to get tossed and which kept will help you organize your space and give a visual of what things are needed to be restocked.

2. Wipe dry any spills

If you have fresh spills from rotten food, wipe dry with a soft cloth to avoid spreading the bacteria and mess when you start cleaning the fridge.

3. Steam the refrigerator

With your steam machine, begin steaming the shelves and drawers from the top with a clean cloth soaking up any excess moisture and debris.

How to deep clean a fridge

1. Remove all food

Checking your refrigerator shelves and drawers for any unwanted food. Fill your sink with ice to to keep food that needs to stay cool from spoiling. Food that can be stored at room temperature (vegetables, fruits, butter and etc) can be put on the counter space.

washing shelves of fridge

2. Wash the refrigerator shelves

If you are able to take out the drawers and shelves from your refrigerator, soak them in the warm soapy water while you are cleaning the getting the rest of the fridge clean. Any dish soap can work for this.

3. Wipe the interior of the fridge with a baking soda solution

Work shelf by shelf

While some people have enough space for full cleaning of their refrigerator, working one shelf at a time may not be the optimal method because there is no need for the perishable to remain in your home for too long. Once you have taken anything off a shelf, assess damage. If there is a spill, take out any glass from the frame and remove the glass from the frame (and the bracket according to the refrigerator) and wipe with a damp microfiber cloth dipped in a soda solution (see recipe below). Let them dry out using a microfiber cloth. If the glass is damaged then wash it out and remove the entire shelf.

4. Dry drip pan

When your freezer operates, it produces condensation. The refrigerator drip pan collects water as it comes out of the defrost drain. If the drip pan is not cleaned on the regular basis, it can accumulate mold and bacteria that will cause foul odors. If you want to avoid problems in the future, it should be cleaned every 3 months

To clean the drip pan, simply wipe the it with a soft cloth (paper towel works as well). If the drip pan has collected grime on it, wiping it with a cloth and vinegar will work.

cleaning fridge coils is needed once a year

5. Clean refrigerator coils

Cleaning your refrigerator coils is the most important thing you can do to maintain a fridge and keep it running for a long time. If the condenser coils are dirty, you can clean it using a vacuum and a coil brush (see link on Amazon)

Learn more how to clean A/C Coils in this guide

cleaning exterior of fridge

6. Clean the exterior of the fridge

There are many ways to clean doors of refrigerator. First, take a look of whether your fridge has steel or plastic or doors.

  • steel doors: metal can accumulate water spots if not cleaned as soon as it happens. If you do have some, try spraying vinegar on it and let it sit for a couple of five minutes. Then, simply wipe it off with a paper towel in the direction of the grain of the steel.
  • If you are looking to polish and clean the steel, think about getting a stainless steel cleaner. (see link on Amazon). This solution is great for deep cleaning surfaces when they need something stronger than multi purpose cleaner. To use, spray the cleaner onto the surface, and wipe off with a cloth.
  • Plastic doors: Dish soap and warm water wiped with a towel will do the job. Wipe and create a light lather on the surfaces to help remove dust and dirt. Use a damp cloth to rinse away any soap residue and then dry any remaining moisture to reduce any streaks.

7. Install a baking soda box to help absorb odors

To keep odors out of your refrigerator for good, store an opened baking soda can or box on the side of the fridge to deodorize the smells. Arm and Hammer sells especially made baking soda refrigerator filters (see link on Amazon).

hmemade solution for freezer and fridge cleaning

Homemade solution recipes

Baking soda and vinegar recipe

If you are not sure what to clean your refrigerators with, try this homemade solution with the things you have in your pantry.

  • 1 cup of ammonia
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda

Mix these 3 together and store the contents in a spray bottle or jar. This can be used with a sponge or a clean cloth. The formula is a degreaser that prevents mold and mildew and does not need a rinse.

Hot water and baking soda solution

This solution is great for regular cleaning. All you need is 2 tablespoons of baking soda and hot water. Mix them in a spray bottle and use to wipe shelves and drawers, bins, and doors.

clening freezer at home

How to clean the freezer

1. Take out food

Checking your shelves and drawers for any unwanted food. Fill your sink with ice to to keep food that needs to stay cool from spoiling.

2. Clean the inside with hot water

There are multiple ways to clean the freezer. Here are some:

Fastest way:

  • vinegar
  • hot water
  • clean cloths

Mix equal parts of vinegar and hot water into a spray bottle. Spray the inside of the freezer generously and wipe it with a towel or cloth. If this doesn't clean it enough, you might need to repeat it.

Deep clean:

  • hot water
  • dish soap
  • clean cloths
  • sponge or brush

Mix mild dish soap with water and dip your brush(sponge). Clean each shelf of the freezer, doors and any drawers that can't be removed.

How to keep odors out of the refrigerator

Aside from cleaning out the fridge regularly, toss out anything that has not been used over a couple of days unless it is condiments. If too many things pile up, it will take you a lot longer to clean up the mess. Using refrigerator filters or baking soda boxes will also help you keep out the odors. Pay special attention that there are no spills that might have dried up.

keeping fridge clean and organized

After math of a fridge cleaning

Once the refrigerator is washed and dry, shut down the door to turn the regulator back off. You can use the fast cooling system in the refrigerator if it is available. Similarly, check the freezer for a return temperature of -18C/0F before putting it in. The point to be made at this point should be to keep food in an airtight container for at least two weeks. Almost all food products contain clear labels and advise if their contents can withstand freezing. But, if they're not, there are instructions for frozen foods. Learn more about freezer cleaning on CDC.GOV

Sabrina Tretyakova
Izabela Forysiak

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