Cleaning Out the Refrigerator

Cleaning out the refrigerator can be an ugly but necessary chore. Whether you are purging unhealthy foods to start a new diet or it's time for the regular maintenance cleaning, there is a procedure that can make the process more bearable. A few simple steps can save you grief and aggravation and leave your refrigerator looking brighter than before.

If possible, do the job on a mild day when you can have the windows open. This will help in case there are foods that have gone bad lurking in the far reaches of your refrigerator. Try to plan this activity for when the contents of your refrigerator are at a low. Just before you normally do your weekly shopping trip is a good time so there is less to deal with.

Clear it Out

Start by emptying the contents. This means everything. Don't forget the doors or the door compartments. Empty the drawers and bins as well. If you have a deep freeze, transfer the contents of your refrigerator's freezer to the deep freeze. Have a cooler on hand partially filled with ice to store the sensitive perishables like milk.

As you are removing the food, check the expiration dates. It is easy to let things sit too long. Also remove any items that are no longer in your diet plan. Pass these items on to someone who can use them if possible.

Take out any removable components such as drawers and shelves. Plastic and metal components can be washed in warm soapy water right away but glass should be allowed to come to room temperature to prevent cracking.


Prepare a bucket of warm sudsy water. Start at the top of the unit and work down. Wipe down all the surfaces with the warm water, loosening any bits of food or dried liquids as you go. Next use clear warm water to wipe the refrigerator down again to rinse any soap residue. Use a dry rag or towel to dry all the surfaces. Wash any glass components in warm sudsy water and rinse. Dry carefully as wet glass can be slippery to handle.

Once the refrigerator is cleaned and dried, you can return the food items. Wipe down glass or plastic containers as you put them inside. Organize your food items so that you will be able to see them and remember to use them before they expire.

Repeat the process for the freezer, using the same steps and methods. Because freezers usually experience fewer spills and leaks, the cleaning process often goes very quickly.

Once you have completed the interior, it is time to clean the exterior. A mild dish soap and warm water is appropriate for most refrigerator exterior surfaces. For those with a stainless steel finish, nonabrasive cleaners are necessary. Wash off the top of the unit first. Then move to the sides working from the top down. Do the front last. Check the door seals, particularly the groves as food and grime can collect there and make the seals malfunction. Slide the drip pan out and empty it if necessary. Give it a swipe with some warm soapy water followed by a rinse. Dry the pan and return it to its position.

Cleaning out the refrigerator includes the mechanics. Unplug it and pill it away from the wall so that you can vacuum the coils. Dust and grease can collect here and keep the refrigerator from running at peak performance. An annual vacuuming will help keep it running at its optimum. Use your brush attachment and be sure to plug the unit back in before sliding it back against the wall.

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