We Tried 5 Methods to Clean Sticky Fridge Drawers — And the Winner Is Effortless and Effective

published Jan 23, 2023
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Graphic showing a refrigerator in a kitchen and the five methods of cleaning fridge drawers
Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley

Before I say anything else I just want to put it out there: I find two out of the three drawers in my refrigerator to be completely useless. My produce bins are so far down that I forget I stowed anything reasonably crunchy in there. (Confession: I’ve even stored canned wines in those drawers when my salad fixings run low).

And, while I love how my cheese/deli meat drawer is located at eye level, it quickly gets grunge-y with little pieces of shredded cheese sticking to the bottom in a way that never gets clean enough for my taste.

So, I took to this assignment with lots of vigor and hope that by testing five cleaning methods I’d find one that would become my forever go-to. Read on for the results.

How I Tested the Methods to Clean Fridge Drawers

I wanted to test each method’s ability to spray off grime and remove any odors left behind by any produce or dairy item stored in each drawer.

For most of the methods, I used a regular sponge or spray bottle to apply and mist off the products I used. Once I tested all five methods, I decided to apply the winning formula. This confirmed this was the best way to clean my fridge drawers.

The ratings: Each review includes my personal thoughts on each method and what I liked and disliked about each process. I rated my results on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being completely ineffective and 5 being the best with no room for improvement.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Fridge Drawer Cleaning Method #1: Baking Soda and Hot Water

  • Cleaning time: 6 minutes
  • Rating: 1/5

The method: Mix two tablespoons baking soda and one quart of hot water. Use a cleaning brush and/or non-abrasive sponge to wipe down the drawer.

How it went: It was super fun watching the baking soda bubble up in the hot water, but that’s about the best that things went from then on. The entire drawer had a grimy finish after the cleaning and it smelled funny too (which is something I don’t like to associate with my refrigerator). It also took longer than other methods, per drawer, which isn’t ideal when you’re in a rush to clean.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Fridge Drawer Cleaning Method #2: Vinegar Spray

Cleaning time: 5 minutes
Rating: 2/5

The method: Mix one part distilled white vinegar, like this one from Heinz, with two parts warm water in a spray bottle. Use cleaning brush and/or non-abrasive sponge to wipe down the drawer.

How it went: While white vinegar is a go-to cleaning product that every single cleaning expert tends to recommend, it still left my drawer smelling like a salad. It also didn’t seem that effective of a way to clean the drawer — some of the corners still seemed grungy — and I ended up having to rinse it several times to rid the drawer of the smell.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Fridge Drawer Cleaning Method #3: Clorox Wipes

  • Cleaning time: 2 minutes
  • Rating: 3/5

The method: Use one Clorox cloth to wipe the drawer. No cleaning brush and/or sponge needed.

How it went: I felt like I brought out the hard-core cleaning product for my cheese/deli meat drawer, the place in my fridge that needed cleaning the most. While it was super-efficient when it came to removing grime, and quick, the smell was overpowering and I ended up rinsing the drawer a few times to make sure there was no lingering cleaning product odor.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Fridge Drawer Cleaning Method #4: All-Purpose Spray

Cleaning time: 4 minutes
Rating: 4/5

The method: Use an all-purpose spray directly on the surface of the drawer. Use a cleaning brush and/or non-abrasive sponge to wipe down the drawer.

How it went: My favorite all-purpose cleaning spray is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, but the Lemon Verbena scent I used was a bit overpowering. I’d add that the spray did a good preliminary clean, but didn’t remove anything stuck-on. Plus, I was a little worried that the lingering smell wouldn’t mix well with my greens — or bags of carrots. Your mileage may vary here depending on which bottle of all-purpose spray (scented, unscented) you use in your home.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Fridge Drawer Cleaning Method #5: Dish Soap and Warm Water

Cleaning time: 3 minutes
Rating: 5/5

The method: Mix one squirt dish soap and fill the rest of the spray bottle with warm water. Use a cleaning brush and/or non-abrasive sponge to wipe down the drawer.

How it went: I have to hand it to dish soap. It is a degreaser bar none and it took just three minutes to use it to clean the drawer thoroughly. It left the drawers sparkling and smelling brand-new, too.

How do you get your sticky refrigerator drawers clean? Tell us your best cleaning tips and favorite products in the comments below.