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Expert Guide: How to Clean Your Refrigerator Like a Pro

How to Clean Your Refrigerator Step by Step Guide to Keeping Food Fresher for Longer

Think back for a second–have you cleaned your fridge recently? If your answer’s no, you aren’t alone.  With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, deep refrigerator cleaning often falls to the back burner. It’s a significant chore—and can be a struggle to get started. However, cleaning one of your home's most essential appliances is a must-do, as it can help eliminate bacteria, mysterious odors, and forgotten food. To make the process as easy as possible, here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to clean your refrigerator and give it the upkeep it deserves. 

Refrigerator Cleaning Log: Things You'll Need

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Sponge
  • Dishwashing gloves
  • Trash bags
  • Hot water
  • Dish soap
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Olive oil
  • Cooler with ice
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle

Let's Clean the Refrigerator 

Step 1. Purge the old stuff.

Woman Cleaning our her Fridge while Checking Her Food To See if it is Expired or Not

Life happens and it can be easy to stock up on—then forget—food and sauces that may be past their prime. Start with tossing the old stuff.

  • Pitch items with mold: fuzzy, white fruits, green-spotted bread, etc.
  • Throw out items that are past their expiration date: think milk, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and yogurt
  • Rinse recyclable plastic or glass sauce bottles before throwing them in the recycling bin
  • Toss old food you won’t eat in a trash bag

Step 2. Prep your space.

Person Taking Shelf out of Their Fridge so They Can Clean it

Before you get to cleaning the grime and gunk, do the things you need to do to keep yourself safe in the process and your salvageable food from going bad.

  • Unplug your fridge (don’t worry, the freezer food won’t melt!)
  • Pack the food you’re saving in an iced cooler
  • Remove the shelves and drawers from the fridge and place them near your sink

Step 3. Wash equipment.

Person Washing Kitchen Equipment in their Sink With Dish Soap and Vinegar

Slip on your gloves and get ready to scrub. Give your equipment a good wash and say buh-bye to the questionable goop living inside it.

  • Fill your sink with hot water, dish soap, and a splash of vinegar (it's your very own DIY refrigerator cleaner!) 
  • Wash your shelves and drawers in the mixture, paying special attention to hard-to-reach corners
  • Set aside to fully dry

Tip: If your shelves and drawers are glass or ceramic, wait a few minutes until they warm to room temperature before washing them, so they don’t break or crack. Also, refrain from using bleach in your refrigerator. 

Step 4. Clean the inside of the fridge.

Man Cleaning the Inside of His Fridge to Prevent Mold and Smelly Rotten Food

Now, your equipment’s clean, but your fridge is still yucky. Get in there and clean up the sticky and smelly stains, spills, and leaks.

  • Soak a microfiber cloth or sponge in a mixture of warm water and a splash of vinegar
  • Wipe the inside of the fridge from top to bottom, including the rubber door seal and shelf seams
  • Use paper towels to wipe the inside dry

Step 5. Restock it with food.

Stainless Steel Refrigerator That is Fully Restocked and Clean

Finally fresh and clean, it’s time for the fun part. Plug your fridge back in and put everything back where it belongs.

  • Place shelves, drawers, and other equipment back in their rightful place
  • Put your salvageable food back in after the fridge has cooled
  • Pop an open box of baking soda in the back to prevent stinky smells

Tip: Line the inside of the veggie drawers with paper towels to reduce moisture build-up and to keep your food fresher for longer.

Step 6. Polish the outside.

Person Cleans the Outside of a Stainless Steel Refrigerator with a Microfiber Cloth

For your stainless-steel fridge to be a shining beauty inside and out, wrap it up by polishing the outside.

  • Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray your fridge
  • Clean in the direction of the grain with a dry microfiber cloth
  • Use a paper towel to wipe off the remaining vinegar streaks
  • Dip another dry cloth in olive oil (you only need a drop or two), and polish the entire surface in a circular motion

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Nothing beats the feeling of cooking in a clean kitchen. Everything is in its place and nicely organized—life is good! And the next time someone asks you how to clean a refrigerator, you'll know exactly where to start. Now imagine feeling that way in every room of your home. Hop on the spring cleaning train and tackle your entire home with our ready-made spring cleaning checklist.