No matter how well-hidden the inside of your refrigerator may be, it's still important to keep it clean and germ-free. Keeping the refrigerator clean is the first step in ensuring the safety of the food and drinks you offer to yourself and others. Follow our step-by-step guide for cleaning your fridge, as well as tips for making this task easier and stress-free.
What You’ll Need
Steps for Cleaning Your Refrigerator
1. Clear Out Expired Food
Go through the contents of the fridge and get rid of anything expired. The USDA recommends that most food can be left out for up to two hours, so keep this in mind as you’re cleaning.
Pro tip: Thoroughly wash Tupperware containing expired food with hot, soapy water before you reuse it.
2. Empty Refrigerator
Clear out the rest of the items and remove all drawers, shelves, and any other removable components.
3. Thoroughly Wash Shelves and Drawers
Wash removable shelves and drawers in hot, soapy water. Dry them using a towel.
Pro tip: If the components are made from glass, wait until they reach room temperature before running them under hot water to avoid cracking.
4. Wipe Down the Interior
Use a clean cloth and wipe the interior of the empty refrigerator with hot, soapy water, working from the top to bottom. Use a clean towel with clean water to rinse. Dry with a clean towel.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to clean the rubber gasket around the frige door, which creates a tight seal each time you close the door. Thoroughly dry it as well to avoid mold growth.
5. Neutralize Odors
Take on any stubborn or lingering odors by placing an open container with dry baking soda on the bottom shelf. Leave it here for up to 30 minutes to absorb any strong odors or smells.
6. Wipe Down the Exterior
Use a clean cloth and warm, soapy water to wipe down the outside of the fridge.
Pro tip: If your fridge has a stainless steel exterior, use a natural all-purpose cleaner instead of soap and water to avoid streaks.
7. Sanitize and Disinfect
8. Clean Under the Refrigerator
For safest and best results, unplug the fridge before moving it. Vacuum and sweep up all crumbs and debris. Wipe the area with a mop and all-purpose cleaner. Allow the area to thoroughly dry.
9. Reassemble Shelves and Drawers
Return the removable parts back inside the refrigerator, along with the food and other items.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I clean my refrigerator?
Try to clean out and wipe down your refrigerator at least once a month to avoid expired food or any mold from forming. A deep clean including germ sanitizing and disinfecting should be done at least twice a year, ideally quarterly if possible.
Freezers require less cleaning due to their ice-cold temperature but should be defrosted at least once a year.
Is it safe to use bleach when cleaning a refrigerator?
If you choose to use bleach, use a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid bleach in 1 gallon of water. Avoid using ammonia, as this can create poisonous fumes. Instead, look into natural, safer alternatives to bleach that are just as effective.
What products and ingredients should I avoid when cleaning my refrigerator?
When it comes to cleaning your refrigerator, avoid harsh cleaners such as bleach, especially around areas that come into direct contact with food items. Also look for cleaners that are unscented to avoid smells from lingering with any food.