GE follows the practice of most appliance manufacturers by shipping its refrigerators with a plastic film covering to protect the finish during transport. Consequently, protective plastic film removal is one of the first jobs for the homeowner after installing a new refrigerator. It's important to do this because if you don't, you'll be cleaning a plastic coating instead of the actual refrigerator, and the coating could prevent the doors from closing all the way.
Remove the Refrigerator Film Promptly
You should remove the protective plastic coating from your GE refrigerator as soon as you've finished installation because it gets more difficult to remove old plastic film from metal the longer you leave it. If your kitchen is like most, the temperature can sometimes get high, and heat tends to degrade the plastic and make it stick more forcefully. Consequently, if you wait, you could have a harder job than if you get to it right away.
Another potential problem is that the adhesive holding the film can soften, and while that might seem like it would make removing the film easier, it makes it more likely that the adhesive will stick to the refrigerator. That makes the job even more difficult because removing adhesive residue is no picnic.
How to Remove the Refrigerator Film
The adhesive film on a new refrigerator is thin, so it tears easily, and it adheres so closely to the metal that you might not even know it's there. You want to pull it off slowly to ensure it stays in one piece, but the problem is often how to begin.
A good strategy is to begin at one corner of the surface from which you're removing it, whether it's one of the refrigerator doors or the body. Try to work your fingernails underneath the corner so you can lift the film and start peeling. If you need help, use a plastic implement, such as a putty knife or scraper, which won't scratch the finish like a metal one.
Once you get the corner started, pull slowly and carefully to avoid tearing the film. If you do tear it, use the plastic implement to work the torn edge away from the surface so you can continue peeling. If you're having trouble, it may help to heat the film with a hair dryer to loosen its grip.
How to Clean the Glue Residue
GE Appliances recommends wiping off the glue residue with the citrus version of De-Solv-it, a product available at any big box or hardware store. This cleaner should never come in contact with any of the plastic parts inside the refrigerator, but those parts are seldom covered by film, so all you have to do is keep the doors closed. Use the product according to the instructions on the label, and clean the surface with soap and water when you're done.
You don't have to use the cleaning product GE recommends because several others will work just as well. Alternatives include WD-40, baby oil, Goop!, Goof-Off, olive oil and rubbing alcohol. Some of these, particularly WD-40, will make removal of the film easier after being sprayed under the part you've just peeled away.
If you have a mirror refrigerator, it's made of stainless steel, so be sure the cleaner you use doesn't contain bleach. Bleach contains chlorine and both chlorine and chloride compounds, including table salt, can dull the finish of stainless steel.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.