Cleaning our fridge – it’s one of those jobs that we all mean to do, but never actually get round to doing. But without a good clean, your fridge will eventually struggle to work to its full potential and you’ll find your food going off quickly, foul smells, and dirty looking shelves every time you open the door.
So let’s delve into the best ways to keep your fridge clean – what methods to use, what ingredients you can find around your home, and how often to do this in order to maintain a fresh smelling and spotless fridge.
Why do I need to regularly clean my fridge?
Maintaining the cleanliness of your fridge is important because it will keep your food and liquids fresher for longer. If your fridge isn’t working to its maximum capacity, then your food is more likely to perish quicker.
The cold air may not circulate properly due to blockages, the door may not close completely if the seals are dirty, and if there is a build-up of bacteria or even mould it could affect anything you place in the fridge. While it isn’t very nice to think about, it does happen and we’re here to help you prevent these common mishaps.
How often should I clean my fridge?
It is recommended to do a deep clean every 3 to 4 months, with quicker, simpler cleans in between or as the need arises – for instance, if you spill something on one of the shelves it is important to mop it up straight away to avoid bacteria forming and smells lingering.
Cleans in between can be as simple as a damp cloth being wiped over the shelves, or for convenience use an antibacterial wipe. For now though, let’s discuss the different ways to give your fridge a thorough clean.
First steps to a cleaner fridge
Firstly, you will need to empty your fridge of all its contents. Not only will this allow you to reach every part of the interior, but it also gives you a chance to check out the use by dates on the contents – I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of forgetting about that half opened can of beans or the ketchup bottle with the tiniest bit left that’s just got pushed to the back of the shelf!
Next you can remove the shelves, drawers, and door racks. All of these can be washed in warm soapy water and left to air dry while you get on with the bigger task of tackling the inside of the fridge. The great thing about the removable parts is that you can clean them without having to leave the fridge door open.
You now have a completely empty fridge, so let’s begin. Starting from the top and working your way down is the best way to clean because if anything drips you can simply wipe it away when you get to that part. So, what are you going to use for the job, here are a few products that most of us have in our cupboards already.
Using one part cool water to one part white vinegar in a spray bottle will make a solution that will lift and eliminate bacteria. By putting it in a spray bottle (which can be picked up in most hardware or bargain shops) you will get into all the nooks and crannies of the fridge.
Spray the fridge’s interior with your vinegar solution and then leave it to work for around 20 minutes, or 30 if it’s particularly grubby, ensuring that you spray into the crevices where the shelves sit as these are some of the areas where most dirt and germs build up.
After the time has passed, use a damp cloth to wipe over the interior, remembering to start at the top. For the tighter spots you can use a cotton bud or any small cleaning tool, this will get rid of anything that’s fallen in or spilt between the shelves over time that the cloth may not be able to reach.
Rinse the cloth regularly and squeeze any excess moisture before continuing to clean, this will avoid the bacteria from just being wiped all around the fridge.
Now don’t forget the drip hole which is normally located at the bottom of the inside of the fridge. The function of this is to catch any moisture that falls from the back, so you need to make sure this is clean and not blocked by anything. You can do this by using the small tool that usually comes with a fridge. Alternatively, use a cotton bud and by working around inside the drip hole you should be able to loosen any build up.
Once all this is done, it is a good idea to use a clean, dry cloth or kitchen towel to wipe all surfaces and sides until they are completely dry and then close the fridge door to allow it to cool down to its correct temperature.
Much the same as using white vinegar, baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda) is another ingredient that most of us will have lurking at the back of the cupboard and because it is a mild and natural agent it is completely safe to use when cleaning your fridge.
Following the method above, you can achieve the desired results when you mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 litre of water – this will give you a paste that you can wipe onto the interior using a damp cloth. Leave the paste for around 15 minutes before rinsing off with a clean, soft cloth.
Once everything has been cleaned, its wise to dry inside the fridge using a dry cloth or kitchen towel before shutting the door.
Thanks to the baking soda being strong enough to lift stains, yet gentle enough to use around your food items, you will be left with a clean and fresh smelling fridge. It has deodorising qualities which will eliminate any nasty smells.
Again, don’t forget to clean out the drip hole and wipe all of the crevices where the shelves sit.
It is worth noting that you should also clean in between the rubber seals too – getting rid of any food particles stuck in there or drips from bottles that have been in the door rack. Any build up in the seals can prevent the door from closing properly which will all impact on the freshness of your food and drinks.
Washing Up Liquid
You can use normal household washing up liquid to clean your fridge if this is what you have to hand. Follow the steps taken with the vinegar and baking soda and remember to rinse your cloth out regularly to prevent wiping around the same germs and to stop the build-up of suds.
Washing up liquid will easily lift any greasy stains or dried on food, as well as leaving your fridge with a lovely fresh smell.
Cleaning the outside of your fridge
So now the interior is sparkling and the shelves, drawers, and door rack have been put back into place and you have arranged all your food and drinks neatly, with everything that was out of date or going a bit rotten thrown in the bin, it’s onto the outside of the fridge.
You may just give your door a wipe down every now and again and think the most important part to keep clean is the inside as that’s where the groceries are kept, but the outside can be just as important. Typically on the back, although sometimes located on the bottom, you will find a number of coils. These work by absorbing the heat and help to keep the fridge cool, therefore if they get dirty or covered in dust they are going to have to work extra hard and this may cause your fridge to stop working.
You can prevent this from happening by simply cleaning the coils. Make sure you turn the fridge off at the wall first – it won’t take long to clean so you don’t have to worry about the contents spoiling.
Wipe off any bigger bits of dust or dirt with a soft cloth, or you could even use a soft bristled brush. If you have a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment this will work well too. It shouldn’t take you any longer than 10 minutes to do and the result will be a cool fridge, while also keeping your energy levels a bit lower.
To clean the exterior door and sides, simply wipe down with a damp cloth and then go over with a dry microfibre cloth or kitchen towel to get your fridge looking like new.
We have given you a lot of information here, although it is relatively simple to keep your fridge clean.
With a thorough clean 2-3 times a year and a quick wipe over as you take out and put food and liquids in, it really needn’t be too much of a chore to keep one of the most important appliances in your home running and looking as good as the day you bought it!
Meet our reviewer – Michelle Vernon
Michelle is one of the lead writers at Washing Check and also holds an editor role. She is a busy parent who understands the needs of daily domestic life and the challenges it can bring.
She genuinely loves cleaning products and equipment, which although is quite strange to many, is a blessing to us here at Washing Check.