How to Deep Clean Your Fridge in 7 Steps

It turns out Nov 15 is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. If you missed it, not to worry, the UN disbanded their refrigerator inspection arm in 1978. (Evidently theyíre all about the honor system nowadays.)

All silliness aside though, when last did you give your fridge a thorough scrub? If youíre like most gainfully employed folks, not for a while, right? Life is busy enough as it is, where on earth are you supposed to fit deep cleaning the fridge into your schedule?

The problem with household appliances is theyíre not self-cleaning. (How awesome would that be?) That means every three to six months youíre going to have to forgo Saturday brunch with the crew and spend the morning getting up close and personal with your refrigerator instead.

If you havenít given it more than a cursory wipe since you bought it, the first time you deep clean your fridge may take a little while. But if you do it properly, the next time will be a cinch. Ready? Letís dive in.

Preparing for the Deep Clean

Deep Clean Your Fridge

You canít decide on the spur of the moment to deep clean your fridge. It requires a little planning to do the job right. First, it needs to be done just before your next grocery shop so itís as empty as possible. That way you wonít spend ages unpacking it and more importantly, thereís no risk of food going off in the process.

Second, unplug it the night before so that it has a chance to defrost overnight. This will save you a bunch of time, since you wonít have to wait for the ice to melt†in the morning. Remember to place an old towel on the floor in front of the fridge and slightly under it to catch the melting ice.

Step 1: Set the Scene

Put on some tunes to jive to. Listening to music while cleaning wonít make the job go any faster, but itíll definitely put you in a good mood. Wring out the towel and mop up any last bits of water. We donít want you slipping on a wet floor. Next, get out all your cleaning stuff so itís ready at hand. The last thing you need is to be hunting for something when youíre elbow deep in soap suds.

Step 2: Empty the Fridge

Take out everything in the fridge. Depending on how you live (Iím looking at you commune dwellers), this could be a potentially frightening experience. There could very well†be a couple of inadvertent science experiments happening in your fridge.

Put the food and drinks to one side for now and remove all the shelves, including the ones in the door, which are also removable (you knew that, right?). Stack them next to the sink ready for a thorough scrubbing down. Take off everything thatís stuck to the outside of the fridge as well.

Step 3: Clean the Shelves

Fill the sink with the warm, soapy water. Itís a good idea to use an environmentally friendly cleaner if possible. Using a sponge and a soft scouring pad for stubborn bits, give the shelves a good clean. Rinse and then stack them out of the way so they can air dry while you move on to the next step.

Step 4: Clean the Interior

If itís placed conveniently, you can refill the sink with a new batch of warm, soapy water to clean the inside of the fridge. If itís not, then use a medium sized bowl or bucket instead. For this part of the operation youíll need to add a cloth to your cleaning arsenal.

Sponge down the inside walls and door, taking special care to get into all the nooks and crannies. (Thatís where all those late night spillages ended up.) Make a point of cleaning the gap in the sealing rubber that surrounds the door. Itís crazy how grimy it can get in there.

Use your cloth to wipe off the excess soap, rinse and repeat until the inside of your fridge is clean and dry. It could take a few turns of dunking the cloth in the water and wringing it out. Donít give up, you got this!

Step 5: Clean the Exterior

Turn your attention to the fridgeís exterior. By now your water is probably going to be a little dirty, so letís go ahead and change that. Once you have a new bowl (or sink) of warm, soapy water itís time for the penultimate round of cleaning.

Using your sponge, give your fridge a good old washing down. (Think of it as a spa date for the appliance that keeps your beer cold and your lettuce crisp.) Wipe off any excess soap with the cloth and rinse and repeat as you did with the interior.

By now your fridge should be gleaming and youíre probably glowing with sweat (and satisfaction, hopefully). Weíre almost done, hang in there. Once youíve replaced the shelves weíll be on the home stretch of this operation.

Step 6: Food Inventory

Do an inventory of the food and toss out anything suspicious looking. Wipe down the bottles and jars (including the lids) and anything else that looks sticky. You may need more warm, soapy water for this. When youíre done, put everything back in the fridge. Neatly. (Iím still looking at you commune dwellers.)

Step 7: Papers, Calendars, Kids’ Art, etc.

Go through all the stuff that was stuck on the fridge door and see what you can toss. If youíre like most folks, at least half of it belongs in the the trash or recycling bin. Replace everything else. Tip: use magnets instead of Blu Tack, it makes cleaning the fridge door much easier.

Step 8: The†Refrigerator Coils

I lied, there are actually eight steps to deep cleaning your fridge. For a truly deep clean óthe kind that would make Bree Van de Kamp proudó you should also pay attention to the back of your fridge.

Depending on when last you looked back there (if ever), it may require a morning on its own to tackle this job. If you donít know how to clean refrigerator coils, itís probably best to defer the task until youíve familiarized yourself with the process.

Take a Load Off

Deep Clean Your Fridge

Thatís it. Your fridge is clean and ready for the year end onslaught of cooking, baking and leftovers. One last tip, schedule your next deep clean for three months from now. If itís diarized you wonít forget and if you donít forget it wonít be such a big job next time. Who knows, you may even get to a point where you can†deep clean your fridge in 15 minutes.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W9 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago


Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Just take a rag and some cleanser.

heather g
heather gabout a year ago

I'll think about it.

Thomas M
Past Member about a year ago

Thanks for sharing

Tanya W
Tanya Wabout a year ago

A final wipe of the interior & shelves & racks with vanilla essence will leave your fridge smelling wonderful ... aaahh 😄

Tanya W
Tanya Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing

Mike R
Mike Rabout a year ago


Maria R
Past Member about a year ago

thank you

Stephanie s
Stephanie Yabout a year ago

Thank you