How to Clean Your Refrigerator

Stuffed refrigerator with text: "holiday prep: clean the refrigerator"
In your efforts to prepare the kitchen for the hectic holiday baking season, you may have already cleaned the oven. Now it’s time to think about cleaning the refrigerator so there’s room for holiday leftovers without any funky smells or sticky spots to slow you down. Use these tips to achieve a clean refrigerator and keep it looking good for months.

How to Clean Your Refrigerator

Ready to deep clean your fridge? Here’s how:

  • Wipe down the outside: Dampen a cloth with soapy water and wipe down the top, doors and sides of the fridge. For stainless steel refrigerators, use stainless steel spray. Give extra attention to the handles where grimy fingerprints linger.
  • Clean the door seals: Wipe them down with the same soapy cloth you used on the outside. Dry the seals thoroughly and check that they seal properly. Replace any cracked or worn seals to improve fridge efficiency.
  • Clean the inside: Turn off the fridge and empty it completely, including removing crisper drawers and detachable shelves. Wipe down the interior with a soapy cloth. For a no-rinse formula, use two tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in one quart of hot water. To remove stubborn stains, create a baking soda paste with a small amount of water. Let the paste loosen the stain while you finish cleaning the rest of the fridge. Return to this trouble spot at the end.
  • Soak shelves and bins: Wash these removable items in warm soapy water. Let stubborn stains soak, and then scrub them clean. Rinse and dry the shelves and bins thoroughly before returning them to the fridge.
  • Clean the refrigerator coils: The coils are located either on the back or the bottom of your refrigerator. Cleaning the coils helps the fridge run more efficiently, which helps it last longer and decreases operating costs. First, check behind the grille at the bottom of the fridge. If you don’t see the coils there, pull the fridge away from the wall and check behind it. Wherever the coils are located, clean them with the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner.

How to Keep Your Refrigerator Clean

Once you have a clean refrigerator, keep it that way with these tips:

  • Wipe up spills as they happen: This prevents spills from drying and becoming more difficult to remove.
  • Keep containers clean: Before you stick the ketchup bottle, jam jar and salad dressing container back in the fridge, wipe the lids clean.
  • Be aware of food spoilage: Check the dates on food labels and toss them out the day they expire to prevent funky smells from developing.
  • Store leftovers in airtight containers: This helps food stay fresh longer. Still, you should only save leftovers for one week. If you don’t think you’ll eat the food in time, cut down on waste by transferring it to the freezer.
  • Place potentially leaky items on a plate: Defrosting meat and berries are liable to leak, so store their containers on a rimmed plate in the fridge.
  • Absorb offensive odors: You have several options for keeping your fridge smelling fresh. Place baking soda in an open container at the back of the fridge and change it out once a month. Spread fresh coffee grounds or activated charcoal on a tray to absorb especially strong odors. Sprinkle orange or vanilla extract on some cotton balls placed in a shallow dish. All of these options provide a fast fix for fridge odors.

With a clean refrigerator, you’re ready to host holiday parties with confidence. Now you can move on to the final step of prepping your kitchen for the holidays: cleaning everything else.