Your Fridge Probably Needs a Deep Clean: Follow These Steps

How to deep clean the fridge
credit: Ana Stanciu

Refrigerators can get sticky, greasy, and stinky while doing the hard work of keeping food fresh. Even without a major spill, crumbs and leaks add up over time. Add in some leftovers from who knows when and things can start to smell "off." Keeping your fridge clean helps it run more efficiently, which helps food last longer — and an organized fridge prevents contamination. Plus you'll be able to find those leftovers!

Food-safe cleaners are a must. Keep chemical-laden cleaners away from where you store food, and mix up this easy cleaning solution that'll wipe out spills and stuck-on food. Then, follow the steps below to give your fridge a thorough deep cleaning every six months.

Cleaning Fridge Supplies
credit: Ana Stanciu

Things You'll Need

  • Garbage bag

  • Cooler

  • Scrub brush

  • Rags or sponges

Step 1: Gather your supplies and unplug the fridge.

Turn off fridge for cleaning
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 2: Remove all food from the fridge.

Tossing food while cleaning fridge
credit: Ana Stanciu

As you're removing food, grab a heavy-duty garbage bag and toss anything you don't need or that has expired. Put perishable items (milk, meat) that you plan to keep in a cooler while you clean.

Step 3: Clean drawers, removable shelves, and door inserts.

Clean fridge door shelves
credit: Ana Stanciu

Hand-wash any removable parts with warm, soapy water. If the pieces are big and bulky, you can take this operation outdoors and use a bucket of soapy water, a good scrubber, and a hose. Rinse and dry well. Set aside.

Step 4: Make the cleaning solution and wipe down the inside.

Cleaning solution for fridge
credit: Ana Stanciu
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dish soap (not Castile soap)

Pour the vinegar into a 16-ounce spray bottle and then add the dish soap. Fill the spray bottle to the top with warm water.

For tough sticky areas, saturate a cloth with the cleaning solution and squeeze some of the liquid onto the area. Let it sit on the area for a few minutes to loosen the stain. It should wipe right away.

If you're cleaning up spills from raw meat or poultry, wipe up the spill, then wash the area with hot water and disinfect with a spritz of hydrogen peroxide, full-strength white vinegar, or bleach solution. Let stand for five minutes, then wipe dry.

Step 5: Clean the door seals.

Clean door seals on fridge
credit: Ana Stanciu

Use a toothbrush, cotton swabs, or toothpicks for small areas that are difficult to wipe clean, like the seals around the door or handles.

Step 6: Rinse and dry the interior.

Rinsing and drying the fridge after cleaning
credit: Ana Stanciu

Follow by wiping the interior with a clean wet rag and then dry with paper towels or hand towel. Then replace the clean, dry fridge inserts.

Step 7: Vacuum the coils.

Cleaning fridge coils
credit: Ana Stanciu

If you're not sure where your fridge condenser coils are, check your manufacturer's instructions. They are usually located under the refrigerator behind the base grille, on the back of the refrigerator, or on the top of the refrigerator. Use a coil brush to gently remove dust buildup and then use a vacuum attachment to collect debris.

Step 8: Clean the grate and/or drip pan.

Remove the vent cover at the bottom of the fridge and vacuum. If there's a drip pan, first absorb any liquid with paper towels then remove to wash.

Step 9: Remove food from the freezer.

Removing food to clean freezer
credit: Ana Stanciu

Again, ruthlessly purge.

Step 10: Clean the freezer with the cleaning solution.

Cleaning freezer
credit: Ana Stanciu

Step 11: Put the food back in.

Replace food after cleaning fridge
credit: Ana Stanciu

Plug the fridge back in and return the food to the fridge and freezer. Wipe down jars and bottles before returning.

Step 12: Clean the exterior.

Cleaning exterior of fridge
credit: Ana Stanciu

For the exterior, use the same solution above or a stainless steel cleaner. Don't forget to clean the top of the fridge!


Stephanie Gerber

Stephanie Gerber

Stephanie Gerber is the founder and editor of the beauty and wellness site, HelloGlow.co. She lives in Nashville with her husband and three children.