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Refrigerator Cleaning Tips: How
To Clean a Fridge

Blog Title Shape
May 14, 2024

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Your refrigerator works hard to keep your family fed — do you give the fridge the cleaning love it deserves? Its handles are pulled with sticky, dirty, germ-covered fingers. The exterior is covered with the same dirt and germs, plus photos and precious scraps of artwork. Because your fridge gets opened dozens of times a day, airborne dust, mold, and dirt can make their way inside. So why does cleaning a refrigerator never make it onto our kitchen cleaning checklists?

Maybe you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to how to clean a fridge. Where do you put all the food? What cleaners are safe to use? How long will it take? We’ll answer these fridge-cleaning questions and more so you can give your favorite appliance the fresh cleaning it deserves. We’ll begin with proven appliance cleaning tips and then delve deeper. 

How to Clean a Refrigerator 101

Learning the basics of how to clean a refrigerator will help you keep your fridge sparkling clean and more sanitary. Before we get to washing and scrubbing, you need to prepare.

Remove the food from your fridge to get it clean. While kitchen counters are convenient for storing the food, there’s a risk of bacteria as the food warms. A better idea is to use coolers to keep refrigerated foods cold long enough for you to clean them at your own pace. Ensure your kitchen sink is empty and you have a trash can handy for spoiled and expired food. 

Because The Maids® is one of the only residential cleaners to clean for health, we recommend safe, natural, DIY cleaning solutions. Here’s what you’ll need for eco-friendly refrigerator cleaning:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Soap and water
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Nylon scrub pad
  • Toothbrush

One of our favorite natural cleaners is white vinegar. When mixed with water, the solution is a food-safe cleaner that breaks down grime and residue. Another favorite is baking soda. This all-natural ingredient cleans, whitens, deodorizes, and is an effective bleach alternative. 

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural antibacterial and mold killer and a safe alternative to bleach. We recommend microfiber cloths and mops because they clean wet or dry and remove dirt and germs using only water.

How to Clean the Inside of a Refrigerator

Start by checking the seals of your refrigerator doors because a clean, undamaged seal is critical for food safety. For grime and caked-on food in the seal crevices, use a toothbrush dipped in hot water to scrub them nice and clean. Your seal works correctly if it can hold a dollar bill in place when the door is closed. Now, on to the rest of the fridge:

  1. Remove the shelving and drawers.
  2. Clean each piece with hot, soapy water, rinse, and let them air dry.
  3. Spray the inside of the fridge with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar.
  4. Let the cleaning solution work on the dirt and grime for 5 minutes. 
  5. Use a damp microfiber cloth to scrub the walls, floor, roof, and the inside of the door
  6. Clean the drawer and shelf slides with a toothbrush, then wipe them
  7. Mix baking soda with enough water to make a paste for scrubbing stubborn stains
  8. Use clean, damp microfiber cloths to remove the last of the dirt and cleaner residue.

How to Clean the Outside of a Refrigerator

Cleaning the outside of a fridge is more than just about looks. There are things you can clean on the outside that affect your health — and your refrigerator’s ability to keep food cold. From the germy buildup on a fridge’s handles to the bottom kick plate, here’s how to clean a fridge on the outside:

  1. Clean the top of the refrigerator to get rid of the accumulated buildup and dust.
  2. Remove the water dispenser tray and wash it with hot, soapy water and vinegar to clean and disinfect it. 
  3. Clean the front and sides of your fridge with water and vinegar to remove smudges and fingerprints on stainless steel.
  4. Remove the bottom kick plate, wash it with hot, soapy water, and dry it.


Your fridge should look pretty good by now, but there’s one more cleaning step to help your fridge work less and last longer. You can’t learn how to deep clean a fridge without knowing how to clean condenser coils. If you haven’t cleaned the coils behind the fridge in a while (or ever), it’s time to dig deeper. 

Condenser coils are usually on the back of the fridge or behind the bottom front grill. Here’s how to clean them:

  1. Unplug the fridge and pull it out far enough that you can get behind it. 
  2. Remove the grill to access the condenser coils.
  3. Vacuum the coils with a brush attachment, being careful not to damage fins or other parts. 
  4. Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the coils gently to remove the remaining dirt and dust. 


Regular maintenance, like condenser coil cleaning, extends a refrigerator’s lifespan and saves money on utilities and repairs. Clean your fridge’s coils every six months to prevent buildup, and while you’re back there, clean the floor and walls. Ready to tackle more? Check out our freezer cleaning tips

How to Clean a Fridge Less Often

Throw out food that’s gone bad weekly. 

Go through the contents of your fridge and throw out produce that’s gone bad before adding your new groceries. Jarred items and condiments have a long shelf life, but if they have been in your refrigerator for years, they probably need to go. Always follow the rule, “When in doubt, throw it out.” 

If it’s drippy, sticky, or gooey, wipe it down before putting it back.

Condiment bottles like ketchup, hot sauce, and mustard are notoriously messy. Give them a quick wipe with a warm washcloth before putting them back. The same goes for beverage containers like milk jugs. Wipe up any drips before they settle on your shelves.

Make a couple of fridge rules. 

To keep your fridge clutterfree, make rules that eliminate those objects that cause clutter — plates, cups, and identical bottles of mustard and salad dressings. Open containers are just a bad idea because they can easily spill, and nearly all condiments can sit in the cupboard before they are opened instead of immediately adding to your fridge clutter.

Designate at least one night a week for a leftover night. 

Pull out your leftovers, including salad mixes, deli meats, and cheeses, and let your family pick their dinner. Not only will you have to throw less spoiled food away, but you’ll also save money and time as dinner only needs a quick reheat! Just remember to label your leftovers to know they are safe to eat.

Store food correctly. 

Your refrigerator has several areas that were designed for particular foods. The door is a warmer spot and should be used for condiments and jarred items. Eggs should go on a middle or top shelf (with the milk) so their temperature doesn’t fluctuate. Store raw meat together (and bagged to prevent juices from spilling) near the bottom. Make sure your produce drawers are set to the correct humidity. Vegetables like humidity, fruit doesn’t! 

Find an organization system that works for you. 

Some organizers swear by using plastic tubs and bins to keep similar food items together. Recycling items for storage, like empty six-pack holders and egg cartons, is also a handy storage hack. Others love to label drawers and shelves so family members know where things go. 

The Maids: Your Partner in Grime for Cleaning Maid Easier

Now that you know how to clean a refrigerator, let us help keep your kitchen and the rest of the house sparkling clean. Whether you use our cleaning guides or house cleaning services, The Maids makes enjoying a clean home more often simple. Discover the difference healthy cleaning can make when you get your free personalized quote today.

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