My fridge is disgusting, help!
That’s a comment we get quite often, so often that we decided to make an in-depth tutorial on how to clean your fridge properly. Now I’ll warn you, it’s not a quick job (if done properly). You can do some quick little cheats which take a few minutes, but for a good cleaning you’ll need to dedicate some quality time to your cool kitchen friend.
Fridges are an incredible advancement in modern society, however it seems like we’ve learned how to take advantage of them. They have become notorious for sprouting science experiments and a friend of mine admitted to me he uses it to store old food until garbage day. So, whether you’re housing biological hazards or tomorrow’s garbage, you’ll need to give your fridge a good cleaning. We’ll talk about the regular things to do and at the end, I’ll cover the occasional chores you can tackle that you’ve probably never heard about. Here’s my method.
You can give your fridge a good, thorough clean like this every 3-6 months, and I recommend giving shelves and drawers an occasional wipe down between cleans to keep things at bay. I also go through my fridge when I am unloading groceries and get rid of any bad stuff. I find most bad stuff lives in the crisper drawers, sadly.
What you’ll need
- Gloves (optional)
- Garbage can
- Recycling bin
- Dish soap
- Cleaning toothbrush (for scrubbing hard to reach areas)
- Non-scratching, double sided sponge
- All-purpose cleaner
- Microfiber cloths
- Baking soda (for abrasion!)
Let’s Get Started
The tear down
Start by removing items from the fridge, shelf by shelf. Have a garbage can, recycling bin and nose plugs near by, this is the time where you pitch what you don’t need. Check expiry dates, do a smell test, and be realistic about this process. Get rid of the garbage. My general rule of thumb is, if there are no expiry dates and I haven’t used the item in 6 months, I get rid of it.
Next, if you can, remove each shelf and place them close to the sink. Given their awkward sizes, you may need to use floor space or alternative space. If you are in a small space you may need to utilize creative real estate, like um, the kitchen floor. You can even lay out a beach towel to assist with safe landings (this will also help with drying later). If you can’t remove shelves, wipe by hand. Be careful with them, they can snap, crack and drop and you’ll be calling a replacement shop and paying ridiculous money to replace the part. Be gentle.
Remove the crisper bins and place those on your counter.
If you can, remove the side door shelves, exposing the door.
Now that you’ve got an empty fridge, take a dry paper towel and brush out crumbs. This is best done ahead of time, since those crumbs get spread all over the place during cleaning otherwise, believe me this really saves time. When that’s done, spray the inside of the fridge down, liberally. Get the product all over the interior. If you have a stained area, apply a bit of baking soda to it and just let it sit.
Speaking of baking soda, this is a great time to change your box, so go for it. Baking soda is a fridge freshener, keeping odours at bay. It can be changed every 3-6 months. Have a fresh box ready to go back into the fridge.
While the fridge is soaking, start cleaning your plastic and glass fridge parts one by one.
Fill a sink 1/3 the way with warm, soapy water. Use a microfiber cloth and a non-scratching sponge where required to scrub away any stickiness or build-up. Should you encounter something very challenging, add some baking soda to the surface and then clean the area. This works very well on stains and discolourations too. Clean each piece, and if they are large or don’t fit in your sink, you can clean them over a towel on your stove or counter. Rinse with clean water if possible, or wipe soapy residue off with a clean cloth and buff dry. You may want to use a cleaning toothbrush to get to those hard to reach spots, too! Let these dry on the towel.
Now, take your cloth and non-scratching sponge, and begin cleaning the guts of the fridge, starting at the top and working your way to the bottom. You may want to re-spray areas if the product has dried. Take your sponge and use an ‘S’ pattern to clean each side of the fridge, including the top and bottom. Wipe with a clean cloth to remove residue, and if you wish, add some vanilla extract to a paper towel and wipe down the interior…this freshens the interior of your fridge. No, it doesn’t stain the fridge brown.
Putting the Puzzle Back Together
Now, start putting this Mr. Potato Head back together, ideally with the right configuration, and then replace the foods where they belong. You may want to reconfigure your shelves at this time, if you know you need more room for one and less on the other. As I replace each food item, I’ll wipe any sticky ones with a cloth (sides and bottoms) to avoid messing up my now super clean fridge.
Consider lining your crisper bins with paper towel and replacing the paper towel sheets each week when you buy new produce. This helps reduce staining and keeps the drawers clean.
A couple things you can do once or twice a year include unplugging the fridge and vacuuming the coils at the back, less dust means a more efficient, quieter and less expensive fridge to power. Just remember to plug it back in after, or else you’ve got a way bigger problem on your hands.
You can also clean the vent at the bottom, and some fridges come with drip trays at the bottom. If you can find yours, you may want to pull it out and give it a wipe down. If you don’t know where yours is, consult your user manual.
That’s all, my friends!
Let me know your fridge cleaning tips or any questions you may have.