How To Clean the Refrigerator

Cleaning Lessons from The Kitchn

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I love a clean and organized fridge. I relish the time after a grocery shop where I can put everything away so it makes sense and looks pretty. However, it's easy to ignore the gunk. You know what I'm talking about: the little bits of dried up kale dried in your veggie drawer, the sticky patch on the middle shelf where some rogue jam made its great escape.

So every now and again it's nice to give your entire fridge a scrub down in order to de-stick and de-ick all the nooks and crannies. I know that emptying out the whole fridge can be overwhelming. (All of those veggies and sauces and leftovers sitting on the counter makes me feel like I'm on an episode of Hoarders: Foodie Edition.) But, the temporary stress of counter clutter is well worth it. It's a pretty easy process. Let's get to it!

How To Clean the Refrigerator

What You Need

A non-abrasive sponge
Multipurpose cleaning spray
Dish soap
Dish towels
Paper towels
An old toothbrush (optional)
Stainless steel cleaner (optional)
Microfiber cloth (optional)

Instructions

  1. Unplug the fridge: If your fridge needs some serious scrubbing power and/or the shelves are not removable, unplug the fridge so you don't waste energy while you clean. If the shelves are removable, and you are conscientious about closing the door between steps, you may leave it plugged in.
  2. Empty the fridge: Take everything out of the fridge and set it on your countertop. Toss, recycle, or compost old and expired food items. Group like items together to make it easier when you put everything away.
  3. Remove the shelves and drawers: Remove any element inside your refrigerator that you can. This usually includes shelves and produce drawers.
  4. Wash them in warm, soapy water: Wash those parts with a sponge or soft cloth in a sink of clean, soapy water. It may be unwieldy to wash the drawers in your sink, so you can do this in the bathtub if you wish. Rinse and set aside to air dry.
  5. Clean the inside of the fridge: Spray every part of the inside of the fridge with a multipurpose cleaner. Wipe down. Make sure to wipe down the walls, shelves, shelf seams, and the rubber door seal. Use a non-abrasive sponge to remove sticky, caked-on spills, and an old toothbrush for getting into crevices.
  6. Replace shelves and drawers: Replace all the shelves and drawers you took out.
  7. Wipe down jars and bottles, then replace: Before you put the food back into the refrigerator, wipe down every jar, bottle, and container with a damp cloth. Replace.
  8. Plug the fridge back in: If you unplugged the fridge while you cleaned, don't forget to plug it back in!
  9. Wipe down the exterior: Wipe down the exterior of your fridge with a damp cloth that's been soaked in clean, soapy water. Dry immediately with a paper towel, dish towel, or microfiber cloth. If you have a stainless steel fridge, you may also use a special stainless steel cleaner if you have it. Make sure to dry in the direction of the grain to prevent streaking.

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(Image credits: Gina Biancaniello)