Can You Clean the Inside of the Refrigerator With Bleach?

Bleach is known for being one of the strongest cleaners on the market, but the strength that makes it tough on grime also makes it a product you must use with caution. That's why many people have questions about what they can do with bleach in their refrigerator.

Clean up a refrigerator
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Bleach is known for being one of the strongest cleaners on the market, but the strength that makes it tough on grime also makes it a product you must use with caution.

A greater understanding of bleach and the different ways it can be used will help you figure out the best way to use it in your fridge.

What is Bleach?

Bleach is a catch-all term for a chemical product used for a variety of disinfecting, cleaning and brightening tasks, including removing stains, lightening hair, sterilizing swimming pools, getting rid of mildew and mold, and killing weeds or other invasive species.

Bleaches typically work as oxidizers, where active ingredients like chlorine or sodium hypochlorite react with colored compounds and remove that color. In other cases, the sodium hypochlorite can react with the proteins in microbes to change their shape, rendering them useless.

Although effective, full-strength bleach also requires care. Chlorine-based bleaches can cause health damage, including respiratory issues or lightheadedness if it is ingested or inhaled, or could cause irritation and burning if it comes into contact with skin. Bleach is also incredibly dangerous if it is mixed with ammonia, another popular household cleaner, as the combination can cause toxic fumes. Because of this, many household bleach cleaners are diluted with water so that they can remain effective without causing damage. Still, it's always important to follow the instructions on the bottle to minimize risk.

Clean Moldy Fridge With Bleach

If you are trying to remove mold from your fridge, or just want to make sure it is sanitized and prevent bacteria from growing, bleach can be an effective tool. Start by emptying your fridge completely and cleaning all the surfaces with hot water and a gentle dish soap. If you can, use a soap that is unscented or lightly scented so that your food doesn't absorb that smell later.

This is typically good enough for a regular clean, but to get rid of mold or extra grime, put 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of warm water. Then, using rubber gloves, use a sponge and the diluted bleach solution to scrub down all the surfaces, especially those covered with mold.

You can also get a clean fridge with Clorox wipes or a fridge cleaner spray that contains diluted bleach. This is an easy way to skip the dilution process or to quickly clean up refrigerator spills without having to completely empty the appliance. Simply swipe the Clorox wipes over the mold or the spills, or use the spray and a paper towel to scrub away at the dirty areas. Wipes are also great for cleaning the areas that can get full of human germs, like the fridge handles or produce drawers.

Once done, give the fridge one more quick rinse with hot, soapy water, especially if your fridge smells like bleach. You can also put an open container of baking soda in the fridge to neutralize the odor. Dry completely, and then put your food back in to the appliance.

Clean Fridge With Vinegar

Cleaning your fridge with bleach in the ways described is safe for you and your food supply. But if you'd still like to avoid it, you can use vinegar for an effective cleaner.

Wipe down your fridge's surfaces with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water. Another option is to make a paste of 1 part vinegar, 1 part warm water and 3 parts baking soda in order to help really minimize unpleasant smells. When you're done, dry completely and return your food to the fridge. Just be sure never to mix bleach and vinegar — like the combo with ammonia, the two products together can create chlorine gas.


Rachelle Dragani

Rachelle Dragani is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn with extensive experience covering the lifestyle space. Her work on topics including smart home technology, pest control, living green, budget home repair and helpful household tips have appeared in publications including Bob Vila, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo and Yahoo.