Edited by James Quirk, Jose M. Verges, Tom Viren, Brett Fechheimer and 29 othersEvery so often, a refrigerator needs to be cleaned from the inside out. The shelves have to be washed down from milk spills, and food must be tossed out if it has outlived its shelf life. Though it's not the most pleasant task, knowing how to do it efficiently and effectively will save you plenty of time and hassle.
Part 1 of 2: Cleaning the Refrigerator
1Take all your food out of the fridge. Place it on a table or counter so the refrigerator is completely emptied out. You'll want to have empty space so that you can survey the damage.Ad
2Throw out any aged, moldy or inedible food, bagging securely to prevent leakage or mold distribution. The yearly or quarterly refrigerator clean often alerts us to items we've completely forgotten about, and which have sadly lost their inevitable fight with Time. 'Tis life. Discard hastily or restock at your own risk.
- Don't be bashful about throwing away the items that you never use. Those pickles that have been sitting in the back of the fridge before grandma got her dentures probably got to go, unless you accidentally want to invite disaster.
3Take out any shelving, drawers (e.g. crispers), or other removable surface areas from the refrigerator. Sticking your head into the belly of the refrigerator in order to clean it isn't very pleasant, and it sure isn't that effective. In order to get the job done quicker, you'll probably want to remove shelving and the like and place it near the kitchen sink, where it will be much easier to clean.
4Wash the shelving, drawers, and other surfaces by hand. Most of what you took out of your fridge either won't fit or shouldn't be placed in a dishwasher. Instead, lather up some suds, get a nice brush or sponge to scrub with, and start going at the removable items from your fridge. This is where the rubber meets the road.
- Never wash a cold glass shelf with hot water. The sudden temperature change could shatter the glass. Instead, use cold water or remove the shelf and let it come up to room temperature before washing it.
- For heavy-duty spills and/or stains, don't be afraid to use the power of hot water and ammonia. Dilute a little bit of ammonia in hot water (1:5 ratio should be plenty) and let the item(s) soak before scrubbing.
- Be sure to let the shelving, grill, etc. dry out completely on a drying rack before inserting back into the refrigerator.
5Wipe the inside of the refrigerator with your preferred cleaning solution. Attack any big or stubborn stains and hit all the remaining surfaces with a clean cloth or sponge.
- You probably don't want to use soap or a chemical cleaner on the
inside of the fridge, as food will absorb the smell. Instead, use one of
the following natural cleaning solutions:
- 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 quart hot water
- 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts hot water
- For really stubborn stains or buildups, try using a dab of white toothpaste. It serves as an abrasive cleanser and it smells mighty fine to boot.
- You probably don't want to use soap or a chemical cleaner on the inside of the fridge, as food will absorb the smell. Instead, use one of the following natural cleaning solutions:
6Make sure to clean the fridge doors. If your refrigerator door has shelving space and is regularly used, make sure to hit that area too, either with a chemical cleaner or a gentler one (explanation above).
7Dry off shelving before putting it back in its home in the refrigerator. With a clean cloth, wipe off any excess water from your removable shelving and place it back in the refrigerator.
8Reintroduce the food into the refrigerator. Wipe off any jars, bottles, or tupperware and place them back into the refrigerator. Double-check the expiration dates on any perishable items before placing them back.