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How to properly clean your refrigerator

How to properly clean your refrigerator

The refrigerator is one of the most frequented places in your home, if not the most frequented place in your home, which means it is also the most common stop for germs.  Although the refrigerator is an appliance intended to help reduce food-born health risks, the refrigerator often serves a dual purpose as (1) food preservation and (2) incubator for accidental science experiments. 

Cleaning a fridge requires some effort and planning, but not much.  Unfortunately, many people procrastinate the cleaning of their fridge until a major spill requires it or they discover a disgusting, forgotten leftover-turned-science experiment on the back shelf.  Whether doing so because of a disgusting spill or as part of a more methodical, scheduled approach, you should at least know how to properly clean your refrigerator.


Garbage can: so you can toss expired food and used paper towels.

Rubber gloves: so you can keep your hands clean from harmful germs. The cheap disposable ones at Ace Hardware, Walmart, Lowes, etc are just fine.

Microfiber cloths: so you can clean fridge components without harming surfaces.  Melaleuca reviews shows high marks for the microfiber cleaning cloth sold by Melaleuca.  I’ve seen other great reviews for microfiber cleaning cloths from the Home Depot, too.

Eco-friendly cleaning solution: so you can safely clean this sensitive food environment.

A cooler: so you can temporarily, safely store food while you’re cleaning the fridge.


  • Turn off the fridge

This isn’t just an exercise in efficiency, it is also important for safety if you intend to clean the fridge coils. 

  • Empty it. ALL OF IT.

Empty the fridge and put the most perishable food into a cooler.  Other items, such as ketchup, can safely be stored on the counter while you clean the fridge.

  • Clean removable fridge parts

Removable parts include trays, drawers, and little hinged doors. 

  • Clean the fridge interior

Using an eco-friendly cleaner, wipe down every surface of the interior.  Pay particular attention to corners and edges.

  • Clean fridge exterior

The exterior of the fridge is the most neglected (especially the BACK of the fridge).  Using the same eco-friendly cleaner used for the interior, wipe down all exterior surfaces giving particular attention to the handles. 

With the fridge unplugged, carefully pull it away from the wall so you can wipe the back of the fridge and also sweep the floor space typically underneath the fridge.

  • Clean of food packaging before putting back

Plug the fridge in, move it back into place, and restock the fridge.  Prior to putting food containers back, give them a quick wipe. 

Refrigerators are one of the most incredible inventions. The ability to for the common family to keep food cool is truly a luxury that most humans in history could only have dreamed of.  Let’s do our part to do our part to keep fridges clean so they can do their part to keep us healthy.

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