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How to Clean a Fridge [Easy 5-Step Guide]

Are you overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning and organizing your refrigerator? It can be a daunting task, but it’s important to keep your fridge clean and organized for food safety reasons.

The refrigerator is one of the most important appliances in your kitchen. It keeps your food cold and fresh, where you leave notes for your family members, hang family pictures, and maybe even where you keep a calendar of activities in the home.

However, the fridge can easily be a place that contains germs and bacteria that can make you or your family members sick. Fingerprint smudges, crystalized juices from meats, and odors from expired foods are all real concerns when it comes to your refrigerator.

In this blog post, we will walk you through an easy 5-step guide on how to clean your fridge. We’ll also provide some tips on how to keep it clean in the future.

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Why should I clean my fridge?

Cleaning your fridge on a regular basis is important for food safety. A dirty fridge can lead to cross-contamination of bacteria, which can cause food poisoning, and no one wants that.

It is also important to thoroughly clean out your refrigerator interior if you find out that you have purchased a recalled food as you don’t want any bacteria or viruses to spread through the fridge.

A clean fridge will also help keep your food fresh and tasting good. No one likes to eat expired food or have a smelly fridge when they are cooking.

What do I need to clean my refrigerator?

There are some basic cleaning supplies you will want to gather before starting deep cleaning your refrigerator.

Supplies include:

  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap or all-purpose cleaner
  • soft cloth and cleaning toothbrush
  • A bucket with warm water & a little bleach (optional)**
  • Stainless steel cleaner (optional)**

How to clean a fridge and make it sparkle again?

Below is our step-by-step guide on how to deep clean your refrigerator.

Step 1: Empty out the food

First, you will want to remove all of the food from your fridge. This includes taking out all food items so that you can start cleaning with a fresh slate.

Once you remove all the food you will want to move through the next steps of this process as quickly as possible to ensure your food doesn’t spoil as you will need the fridge door open for most of the cleaning process.

You can also choose to place the food into a cooler with ice to keep it cold while you work through the next steps of the process. This will allow you a little more time to get everything done.

Step 2: Remove shelves & drawers

The next step would be to remove all the shelves and drawers from the fridge interior. You may be surprised at the sticky caked-on food particles you find underneath all the food you took out, especially on the fridge door shelves.

Be especially careful when removing cold plastic and glass refrigerator shelves as they can easily break. A possible tip for preventing cracks is to turn the refrigerator off a little while before removing the shelves to let them warm up before removing them (if you placed your food in a cooler or are emptying the fridge out for moving).

Once you have all the shelves and drawers out, set them aside in your clean kitchen sink and start rinsing. If you are trying to keep the refrigerator from getting too warm then go ahead and close the doors while rinsing and drying the shelves and drawers with some warm water and mild dish soap.

Step 3: Disinfecting and cleaning

If you are cleaning out a lot of food residue or crystalized meat juices it is best to use a damp microfiber cloth with soapy warm water to eliminate germs while wiping down the fridge interior. Always work your way from top to bottom when cleaning for the best results.

Bleach Option:

If you are concerned about mold or other harmful substances you can always use a little bleach mixed in a spray bottle with water, or a bleach-based cleaner like Clorox spray. This will need a few minutes to sit before being wiped out from the refrigerator so you would want to consider spraying the bleach inside the fridge before rinsing and cleaning the drawers out in the sink to save time.

Baking Soda Option:

Baking soda makes a great natural cleaning solution for the refrigerator shelves and sides as you can sprinkle some and then use a spray bottle with warm water and dish soap to wet the fridge. Once you have the products on the surface you can begin to scrub with either an abrasive sponge or a wet paper towel to scrub and rinse. This will remove mold and other harmful substances while deodorizing and shining your refrigerator.

After you have gotten all the stains and icky stuff out of the fridge you are ready to dry out the fridge and its pieces. You can now simply wipe out your fridge with a dry towel or soft cloth to remove excess moisture and ensure your refrigerator interior is completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Organizing & returning items

Now that you have a sparkling-clean fridge you can begin returning items back into the fridge shelves. Start by sorting items on your counter and setting aside anything expired or any items you no longer need in your fridge.

Once you know what is going back into your fridge you can organize your refrigerator with plastic bins and labels to help give your items a specific home and keep things organized in the future.

If you are cleaning your refrigerator due to spoiled food then you may want to place a small bowl of baking soda in your fridge for the next few days. Two tablespoons baking soda will go to work eliminating odors and freshening up your in no time.

Step 5: Cleaning the outside and seals

Now that you have done a great deep clean inside, you may want to get those sticky smudges and fingerprints off of your refrigerator exterior.

How to clean a stainless steel fridge?

If you have a stainless steel refrigerator you will want to use a stainless steel spray cleaner for best results and never use abrasive rags or sponges. A clean microfiber cloth is best to prevent scratching I personally use the ZEP brand stainless steel cleaner on all my appliances and it makes my kitchen look brand new. Just be sure to use rubber gloves and not to get it on your skin or eyes as it is a pretty strong cleaner.

If you have a textured white fridge you will want to use a little dish soap in some hot water and a toothbrush to scrub out the grime that gets trapped in the grooves of the texture. This will help to make your fridge look new again.

Another commonly overlooked spot on the fridge that needs a good deep cleaning now and then is the refrigerator door seal. These seals can get icky and you will want to run that toothbrush along each one in order to ensure they are nice and clean.


How to clean a fridge with mold?

If you are cleaning your refrigerator due to mold or other fungi you will want to sprinkle a little baking soda on the interior surfaces where the mold is. Next, scrub the area with an abrasive sponge or damp cloth. If there is a lot of mold you may want to additionally get a spray bottle filled with mild dish soap and hot water and spray the area again. Last, you will wipe everything up with a damp paper towel and dry it with a clean cloth.

How to clean a stinky refrigerator?

If after you have cleaned your refrigerator it still has a strong odor you can simply place a small open container of baking soda on one of the shelves. Baking soda is great for deodorizing and will go to work instantly when you shut the refrigerator door. Another great option is using an eco-friendly bag of activated charcoal which will remove orders as well.

How to clean a stainless steel fridge?

Stainless steel is beautiful but can easily gather fingerprint smudges that need to be cleaned with a stainless steel specific cleaner such as ZEP brand stainless steel cleaner. Always be sure to buff off the cleaner using a microfiber cloth on the stainless surface as an abrasive rag or sponge will scratch the finish.

How to clean a fridge water dispenser?

If you have a fridge with a water dispenser you will want to start by unplugging your refrigerator and removing the drip tray. Next, you will want to use a small brush or toothbrush to clean the crevices where bacteria can grow. After that, you will soak a rag or sponge in warm soapy water and give the outside of the dispenser a good scrub. Last, you will rinse everything off with hot water and dry it with a clean cloth.

How do I clean the fridge drip pan?

The drip pan is located under your fridge and can easily become full of dirt, dust, and hair. You will want to start by unplugging your fridge and removing the drip pan. Next, you will want to wash the drip pan with hot soapy water and a scrub brush. Ensure the drip tray is completely dry before returning it back to the fridge.

How to clean the refrigerator coils?

The coils on your fridge can become dusty and full of dirt and hair which can make your fridge work harder than it needs to. You will want to start by unplugging your fridge and moving it away from the wall. Next, you will want to use a vacuum with a brush attachment to vacuum the coils. If they are really dirty you may want to use a specific coil brush to scrub them clean. Finally, you will replace the back panel and plug your fridge back in.

How to clean the freezer compartment?

The freezer can be one of the hardest places in your fridge to keep clean as it is constantly being opened and closed. You will want to start by following a similar process as we have described in this article for cleaning your refrigerator, by removing everything from the freezer and rinsing it off. Next, you will want to use hot water and a kitchen towel to remove the freezer burn and the buildup of ice on the walls, door, and surfaces of the freezer. Once the build is gone you will be able to enjoy your freezer as normal again.

Further Reading

How to Clean a Kitchen Sink [Easy 7-step Guide]

The 75 Best Smart Kitchen Gadgets in 2022

The Best Degreaser for Kitchens and Cabinets [2022 Review]


Cleaning your fridge may seem like a daunting task but if you break it down into smaller tasks it can be easily manageable. Be sure to set aside some time every few months to give your fridge a good cleaning. By following the steps outlined in this article you will have a clean and fresh-smelling fridge in no time. Thanks for reading, happy cleaning!

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