How to: Clean your Refrigerator

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If your kitchen is spotless, don’t let your fridge spoil it. Use this guide to clean your refrigerator. Image: JadeNinaSarkhel/Twenty20

The new year always offers a fresh start. Why not take this opportunity to knock out a few to-dos that will help you start the new year strong? This is an ideal opportunity to take on those tasks you always say you’ll get to someday. Tasks like taking the time to clean your refrigerator.

Sure, it’s not fun. Yes, it will take time. And yes, you will probably find a long-forgotten condiment growing something you wish you hadn’t seen. But that’s all the more reason to jump on it! Every time you open your sparkling clean fridge, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment. Plus, you’ll likely end up clearing out some space you can use to help yourself on any New Year’s healthy eating resolutions.

So where to start? Here’s a quick checklist you can use to deep clean your refrigerator.

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Shutting off power and emptying out the fridge makes your deep clean a lot easier. Image: BondRocketImages/Shutterstock

Step one: disconnect the power

You will need to open your fridge door for quite a while, so there’s no sense wasting energy while you clean. Either unplug your fridge or, if you’re not keen on climbing behind it, turn off power at the fuse box or circuit breaker.

As soon as you disconnect power, open your freezer door so it can begin to defrost. No one likes to have cold hands while they clean!

Step two: transfer food

If you think you’re going to hustle through this project, you can simply take all your food out and put it on the counter. But if you’ve got a larger fridge, know yours is going to need some serious elbow grease or simply don’t want to feel rushed, grab a cooler. Load the highly perishable items like dairy and fresh produce into the cooler with items from your freezer to buy yourself some time.

While you’re at it, take any removable parts – like glass shelves and crisper drawers – out and put them on the counter. Letting them come to room temperature before you start cleaning them can help you avoid cracks.

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Would you let people take photos of your open fridge? After this clean, you’ll be setting up your own photoshoot. Image: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Step three: wipe it down

While it might be tempting to grab your Windex and get to scrubbing, don’t. Chemical cleaners shouldn’t come into contact with your food, even indirectly. Instead, choose a food-safe option. You can make a paste of baking soda and water for caked-on grime (like that oddly-colored goop that accumulates under condiments in the door). Use a spray of half vinegar, half water for your general wipedown. A wet towel can be a huge help in grabbing particles from all the tiny nooks and crannies inside your fridge.

Step four: clean the door seals

Have you ever looked inside the flexible seals around the edges of your fridge doors? This is an often-overlooked area, even if you regularly clean your refrigerator, so don’t skip it now! Spray it down with your vinegar solution, then use your wet towel to get inside the folds of the seal.

While you’re at it, check the seal. If your fridge doors aren’t sealing properly, your fridge is working overtime. This shortens the lifespan of your refrigerator and drives up your energy bill, so it’s worth getting fixed.

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Don’t just wipe down your fridge’s interior. Clean the removable parts and exterior, too. Image: bezikus/Shutterstock

Step five: clean drawers and shelves

While it’s tempting to throw your shelves and drawers into the dishwasher, they could crack in there. Instead, use the same food-safe solutions you used above to get them sparkling clean. Or, if you’ve got a large enough sink, you can wash them the same way you would any other dishes.

Make sure these items are completely dry before you add them back to your fridge. Otherwise, trapped moisture can breed bacteria, undoing all your hard work.

Step six: clean the exterior

You’re almost done! When you clean your refrigerator, don’t forget to wipe down the outside. Disinfect the door handles, then grab a step stool. Wipe down the top of your fridge to keep your kitchen that much more sanitary. Clean fridge doors with the appropriate solution (e.g. glass cleaner for glass fridge doors, stainless cleaner for stainless doors). Because the food stays inside the fridge, the no-chemical rules don’t apply here.

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Voilà! Once you load your food back in, your sparkling refrigerator can become a source of pride. Image:  asbe/Getty Images

Step seven: reload the fridge

Now comes the fun part. Use this opportunity to organize your fridge and you’ll be significantly more likely to keep it clean. Before you put any item back into the fridge, check the expiration date. This is the perfect time to make sure you haven’t been harboring any long-expired products in the depths of your refrigerator.

What tips and trick do you use when you clean your refrigerator? Did any of these help you out? Let us know in the comments.

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