How to Properly Clean Your Refrigerator

How to Properly Clean Your Refrigerator

When you open the refrigerator door and you get hit with a waft of unpleasant-smelling leftovers, you probably dread knowing it’s time to clean the fridge.

But a bad smell isn’t the only reason you should clean your fridge regularly. Food build-up can lead to germs and bacteria growing where you have your foods stored.

How to Clean Your Smelly Fridge

How Often Should You Clean Your Fridge?

Build-up happens. We forget we have a container of peach yogurt in the back, or we don’t know our teenager stuck a half-empty soda bottle in the door. Try to make it a habit to scan your fridge daily, to see if there’s anything that needs to be thrown away.

Weekly, remove things that are outdated, almost going bad, or you’ll not use.

Depending on your family size, every two or three months, you should try to do a deep cleaning. Keep a fresh box of baking soda open inside, to absorb odors.

How To Properly Clean Your Refrigerator

It might seem straightforward but having a technique in place will make cleaning your fridge easier and faster. You should unplug your refrigerator when doing a full cleaning. This will make cleaning the coils easier, plus help defrost the freezer.

Gather Materials

Have all of your cleaning supplies and materials ready before you begin. You should have:

  • A soft cloth
  • Hot, soapy water
  • A bucket
  • Paper towels or clean towels
  • Garbage bag
  • Coil brush (a soft paintbrush could work, too)
  • Bleach (if desired)

It’s also helpful is to have an ice chest nearby to hold your cold items while you’re cleaning.

Create Space

Make sure you create enough space to hold everything you take out, so you’re not split between running in and out of the kitchen. Clean out the sink, too, so you have a place to put things that need to be washed.

Empty The Fridge and Freezer

Remove all contents and toss what’s not good anymore. For the items that are still good, wipe with a wet cloth or rinse in the sink.

Remove Shelves and Drawers

Shelves and drawers can be either washed with a wet towel by hand or in the sink with warm soapy water. Be sure to set them to dry thoroughly before replacing them.

Clean Bottom Pan

Some refrigerators have a pan in the bottom that catches water. If yours is removable, you can just pull it out, empty the water, and wash it.  If not, use a towel to sop up the water and dry it well.

Wipe Outside

Use your warm, soapy water and a soft cloth to wash the sides and fronts of the fridge. Pay particular attention to the handles, where germs can linger.

Clean Coils

Build-up on the coils can cause problems for your fridge. Cleaning them once every few months helps avoid these problems. Move the fridge away from the wall and gently brush dust and debris from the coils.


You don’t have to sanitize, but if you found mold or other issues in the fridge while cleaning, a solution of ⅓ cup of bleach to one gallon of water is ideal for sterilizing the surfaces.


Cleaning out the fridge is easier when you have all the right tools, materials, time, and space. Keeping your fridge clean will help extend the amount of time you have it, and keep your foods fresh and healthy.