Here’s How Often You Should REALLY Clean Your Fridge

Would you be embarrassed to show someone the inside of your fridge? When was the last time you checked the coils? Find out how often you should clean your fridge—and our best tips for getting the job done.

As one of the most commonly used appliances in your kitchen, the fridge takes a beating. Food gets spilled, leftovers get forgotten and half bottles of condiments start to take over every shelf. Read on to find out how often you should clean your fridge, plus our best tips for a pristine icebox.

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What to Clean Daily/Weekly

  • To avoid yucky surfaces and bad smells, wipe down the trays and drawers of the fridge at least weekly. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of removing old food and wiping down the interior of your fridge before grocery shopping each week. If your fridge still smells funky, try these deodorizing tips.
  • Try to clean up spills daily. Any splashes or drips should be wiped with a damp cloth or sponge as soon as they happen; otherwise you’re left with sticky residue that’s just going to get harder to remove the longer it sits.
  • Clean the exterior of your fridge every couple of days. Use your favorite cleaner to remove finger smudges and other spots, paying close attention to the door handles.

What to Clean Occasionally

  • The top of the fridge. This area sometimes becomes a dumping ground for random items and a dust bunny haven.
  • Underneath the fridge. At least once every couple of months, have someone help you pull the fridge away from the wall. You’ll be surprised to see how dirty the flooring can get that’s hidden underneath your unit. Give it a good sweep and mop before putting the fridge back in place.
  • The door seals. The rubber door seals collect crumbs and spills. Wipe the area with a washcloth dampened with hot water and dish soap, then dry thoroughly.

Deep Cleaning Tips

It’s a good idea to deep clean your fridge at least every couple of months. Here are a few tips to help the project along.

  1. Treat your fridge as you would a messy closet—which means the first step is emptying it entirely to fully assess what can stay and what must go. (Use this guide to check expiration dates.) If you’re worried about spoiling, you can throw the most perishable items in a ice cooler or even in the freezer while you work.
  2. Wipe down the trays and drawers with a sponge and soapy water. Any parts that are removable can be scrubbed in the sink. For particularly sticky messes, try using a magic eraser. When everything is clean, do a final wipe down with a spray bottle full of diluted vinegar. It will disinfect without adding any harmful chemicals to your food storage area.
  3. Put the food back in the fridge. Go through every item and discard anything past the expiration date, or any leftovers containers that you can no longer identify. (Yuck!) Wipe down bottles and jars to remove any residue before returning them. By the way, here’s how to organize your fridge the right way.
  4. Clean the dust coils. Over time, the condenser coils on your fridge can collect dust and debris and will keep your fridge from running efficiently. The coils are usually located under the refrigerator behind the base grille, on the back of the refrigerator or on the top of the refrigerator. Unplug the unit, and use a coil brush or a vacuum attachment to wipe away dust, dirt and pet hair. A coil brush is a long, flexible bristled brush that can fit into small hard-to-reach crevices, and can be purchased at any hardware store.

Next: Make sure you’re not shortening the life of your refrigerator.

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Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.