How to Clean Your Fridge If You Have 20 Minutes … or 2 Minutes

updated Feb 18, 2021
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Someone looking inside refrigerator.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Any amount of time spent cleaning the fridge is going to be time well-spent. (It’s definitely a better use of time than, say, doom-scrolling on your phone!) Even just a few seconds is sure to pay off.

Not only is a clean fridge more sanitary, but it can also save you time and money: You’ll see what you need to consume before it goes bad, what you have so you don’t buy duplicates or more than you need, and you’ll feel that sense of aah every time you open the door.

You might not feel like you have time for a whole fridge clean-out, but even short bursts of cleaning can have an impact. Plus, cleaning your fridge out completely might not take as long as you think. Here’s how to clean your fridge in both a two-minute chunk of time and a 20-minute slot.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

How to Clean Your Fridge If You Only Have 2 Minutes

Credit: Zoe Burnett

If you have two minutes to clean the fridge — while you’re waiting for the microwave to beep or if you’re ready to go on your walk but your partner is still looking for his coat, for example — you can still get a lot done.

Here’s your quickie check list.

  • Remove old items: Scan everything in the fridge. (Don’t forget the drawers.) Bring leftovers that look like they might get forgotten closer to the front. Toss items that are no longer consumable. (You’ll find that this instantly adds space and order.)
  • Put remaining items where they belong: This seems straightforward, but having zones in the fridge for various types of items and keeping items in those zones are two different things. Quickly put anything that’s not where it’s supposed to be back where it goes. (Salad dressings and condiments on the door, for example.)
  • Wipe down obvious spills and crumbs: Nothing makes a fridge look more unappetizing than spills, crumbs, and the hair and pet fur that inexplicably ends up on the shelves. Grab a damp rag and wipe out anything that’s readily visible when you open the unit. 
Credit: Sarah Crowley

How to Deep Clean Your Fridge in Just 20 Minutes

Credit: Zoe Burnett

If you have 20 minutes you can devote to cleaning your refrigerator, chances are, you can probably get it cleaned out completely.

Here’s what you should do.

  • Remove items shelf-by-shelf or drawer-by-drawer: Working in sections, completely empty out part of your fridge. 
  • Toss old items: As you empty, take note of anything that is no longer good and throw it out. Note: If the bottle or jar is recyclable, empty the food into the trash and put the container in the sink to clean out later.
  • Wipe down the empty spaces while the items are cleared out: While the items you removed wait on the counter, wipe out that shelf or drawer in the fridge. Vacuum if there are lots of crumbs. Mist white vinegar on surfaces and wipe with a clean rag. 
  • Wipe food containers before they go back in the fridge: The number-one way to keep your fridge clean is to make you sure you don’t put anything that’s dirty back into it. So before you put anything back on your cleaned-off shelves or door units, wipe off the outside with a damp rag. 
  • Repeat throughout fridge: Continue working this way, section by section, until your whole fridge is clean. If you turbo-charge your effort, you can probably finish the whole thing within 20 minutes.
Credit: Kitchn