Your refrigerator is one of the most extensively used appliances in your house that does not even get a rest.

Furthermore, it is often tortured with various spills, odors, and piles of leftovers and useless, moldy food bagged securely waiting to be thrown away.

Thus, it is essential to clean your refrigerator regularly. However, it is not as quick and easy as cleaning your microwave.


Before proceeding to clean your refrigerator, though, make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

How to Clean Your Refrigerator

Steps for cleaning

  1. Unplug the refrigerator or turn the inside temperature control off (saves electricity).
  2. Now, empty the refrigerator. For the time being, you can place the fragile foods such as dairy products and meats in a cooler with ice so that they do not get spoiled.
  3. Remove all the removable shelves, drawers, and compartments.
  4. Put all the metal and plastic parts in the sink and rinse them with a mixture of warm water and dish soap.
    As for the ones made of glass or ceramic, do not immerse them in warm water right away; otherwise, they may crack or break. Let them remain at room temperature for a while.
  5. Clean the inside of the refrigerator and the interior door with a damp cloth/sponge/towel and a mild detergent. Detergents, however, can leave behind a smell that your food is likely to absorb. Thus, prefer to use a solution of equal parts of white vinegar and warm water or a mixture of two tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of warm water.
    For removing stubborn stains, consider using white toothpaste. Use a plastic non-abrasive scrubber to scrub the stains. Besides, you can place a warm wash cloth on stubborn stains and spills for a few minutes and then remove it to make it easier to wipe them off.
  6. To remove grime from shelf seams and rubber seals, you may use an old toothbrush soaked in the cleaning solution.
    For cleaning gaskets on the fridge and freezer doors, you can use an all-purpose cleaner or merely white vinegar (it prevents mildew).
  7. Locate the drip pan of the refrigerator. Pull it out carefully and clean it with warm soapy water or the half vinegar and half water solution. Let it dry completely before re-installing.
  8. For cleaning the exterior of a stainless steel refrigerator, you can soak white vinegar in a microfiber cloth and rub it on the surface in the direction of the grain. To enhance the shine, you may put a few drops of olive oil on a clean piece of cloth and rub it on the exterior.
    Alternatively, you can use a commercial stainless steel spray. In case you have an enameled steel refrigerator, you may want to use a multipurpose cleaner. Wipe the areas around the handles, too.
  9. Make sure you wipe dry the outside of the refrigerator after cleaning to prevent streaks.
  10. Finally, plug in the refrigerator and put the shelves, drawers, etc. back in when they dry thoroughly. You can now store the food in your fridge.

The process of cleaning may take about 20-30 minutes or more, depending on the amount of cleaning your refrigerator is craving for! When dealing with a moldy fridge due to it’s not in use for days or weeks, you may use a bleach formula prepared by mixing one part each of bleach and water.

Along with cleaning, it is essential to inspect all the foods and beverages stored in your refrigerator to discard the ones that are spoiled or have exceeded their expiry dates.

How to Remove Bad Odors from the Refrigerator

  • To prevent and eliminate all sorts of odors circulating in your refrigerator, place a jar of bicarbonate of soda, open in your fridge. Alternatively, you can spread baking soda in a baking sheet and leave it in the refrigerator for some time.
  • Activated charcoal is also useful in getting rid of bad odors. You can place the briquettes in a few shallow cups at different levels and locations in the refrigerator. When using activated carbon for this purpose, do not use charcoal briquettes with flammable additives because they are poisonous. Instead, opt for the type of charcoal used for fish tank filters. It is available at pet shops and drugstores.
  • Spread fresh, dry coffee grounds on a few baking sheets and place them on different shelves within the refrigerator to remove the bad smells within a few days. The coffee trick can be used to eliminate bad odors from your microwave as well.
  • Leaving a bowl of oats can help absorb the lingering food scents and odors naturally.

Additional Tips

  • Do not use the same rag for cleaning the interior as well as the exterior of your refrigerator.
  • It is suggested to clean your fridge about once a month.
  • Check the food stored in the refrigerator at least every week to remove the rotten or waste items.
  • Do wipe up the spills immediately, or else they would be hard to clean later.
  • Similarly, wipe off the rims of ketchup bottles, jam jars, etc. before placing them in the refrigerator so that they do not leave marks on the shelves. Plus, food items that are likely to leak should be stored in bags or plates with rims.
  • You need not clean the refrigerator thoroughly every time; you can clean a few shelves at a time to reduce the burden.
  • It is best to store leftover food in air-tight containers to avoid odors in the refrigerator.
  • Store different types of food items in different areas and compartments within the refrigerator, depending on the amount of cooling they require.
  • Do defrost your freezer and refrigerator regularly.
  • Vacuum the refrigerator coils seasonally.