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how to clean your refrigeratorWouldn’t it be nice if when we moved out we got a manual of everything we needed to keep clean and the best, most efficient way to do it?  I don’t know when it finally dawned on me that I needed to make sure to know how to clean a refrigerator and do it on a semi-regular basis.  After realizing this, I suddenly realized that I remember my Mom cleaning out the refrigerator as a kid, so I knew how to clean out the refrigerator, although I just knew the basics, not any of the tricks or hacks.  Back then I always thought it was fun when I would join in also.

Depending on how dirty your fridge is, it can be fairly time-consuming, but if your refrigerator is down to mainly just condiment bottles and if fairly clean, it shouldn’t take nearly as much time.  Making sure your fridge stays relatively clean is important, you don’t want to contaminate your food with spilled chicken juices or anything like that.


How to Clean a Refrigerator

Weekly Expired Food Check

You should do a quick check each week to make sure any food that is close to expiring makes it into a meal soon.  Throwing food away, because it was in the fridge too long is such a waste of money.

I will say that I am not hardcore on expiration dates.  If something is out of date, depending on what the item is, I will do a visual check – checking for any mold or other suspicious growth and I will also do a smell check.  If it smells like it is “ripe”, I tend to throw it out.  As you clean your fridge out, you will learn the smells each food makes when it starts to turn bad.

Steps to take

If you wish to deep clean your fridge, there are a few things you should get ready. Collect baking soda, a couple cloths (preferably soft), a fairly large bowl to make up a baking soda cleaning mixture, insulated bag or cooler, dish soap and access to a trash can. Once you have gathered these items, you are now ready to wage war against the demons within your refrigerator.

Empty your fridge

The first thing to do when cleaning your fridge is to empty everything out.  This is why you have either the insulated bag or cooler – you are going to put everything into these to keep them cold.  Make sure to check expiration dates as you place the items into your cooler or insulated bag.  You also want to check any leftovers to make sure they haven’t been in the fridge too long.  Throw out anything that is questionable.

Remove and wash the shelves

Once you have emptied your fridge, you should start removing the shelves and drawers of the refrigerator. Be sure to be gentle about it. Some shelves can be made of glass, so are fragile.

Once you have taken the shelves out, put them in either a sink, if it is large enough for them, or a tub.

Now that these parts are in the tub, you need to clean them.  You can wash them with soap and water.

Once cleaned, rinse the shelves and drawers, making sure all the soap is off of them, then dry them off using a soft piece of cloth.

Tackle the interior of the fridge

While the shelves and drawers dry off, you can spend your time cleaning the interior of the refrigerator. To clean the inside of the fridge, you’ll begin by making a mixture. Add a quarter cup of baking soda to four cups of water and drizzle in a bit of dishwashing soap as well.

Dip a clean piece of cloth in the mixture and begin the cleaning process. Use the cloth and wipe the inside walls of the fridge. To remove the solution from the wall, you can use a separate clean cloth, dip it in water, and wipe the walls with it once you have cleaned it with the mixture.

Sometimes, dried drips exist that do not come out via the scrubbing with the baking soda mixture. If this happens to you, put some vinegar on a paper towel,  press it on the concerned areas for 15 minutes and then try cleaning the drip again.

Make sure to remove any food debris that may be on the bottom of the refrigerator.

Once you have tackled the walls, make sure to clean the gasket which is around the door. This place is prone to accumulating dirt and mildew. Clean it with the mixture and then dry it off with a soft cloth. Also, remove any food debris that may be present inside the fridge.

Yay!  You are getting close to having a clean refrigerator!  Almost there!

Put it all back in

Once you have ensured that the interior of the refrigerator is as clean as it could be, you can now put back the drawers and shelves.  Then put in all the food you took out.  It is always a good idea to return these items in an organized manner.

Tips to make your life easier

We understand that cleaning your fridge isn’t the most fun task in the world. However, you can make it easier and make cleaning out the fridge take less time with some quick and easy habits.  Here are some of the habits you can adopt:

  1. Wipe jelly containers and milk jugs frequently to prevent accumulation of drips.
  2. Any time you spill something, wipe it up immediately.
  3. Be aware of the storage life and expiration date of the food items to prevent hoarding.
  4. Put all meat in a bowl or other container if you are defrosting it in the fridge.  If the package leaks, it will leak into the bowl and not onto your shelves.


All in all, cleaning a fridge may not be the most fun, but the result of looking at a sparkling clean and organized fridge is worth the time spent. I love projects that I can feel like I did something and see results.

If you needed to know how to clean a refrigerator, I hope this helped you.

Here are some tips and hacks on cleaning the ice maker, coils and outside of your fridge – Brilliant Fridge Cleaning Hacks.

By following these instructions you should have a clean refrigerator.