As far as kitchen appliances go, the refrigerator may be the trickiest to clean. Of the kitchen appliances, the fridge sees the most activity by far, and it is the only major appliance that is constantly in use.
So, if you care about keeping a kitchen that is well designed, beautifully organized, and functional, we say start with the fridge.
How to Clean Your Refrigerator
How often does Master Clean recommend cleaning a fridge?
When was the last time you cleaned the fridge? If you can’t remember, then there is no better time than right now. We recommend a top-to-bottom cleaning of your refrigerator every three months.
Tools and cleaners you’ll need.
As a professional cleaning company, we have our favorites, but the truth is that this chore requires very little. Here’s a shortlist of what we think you must have to do this well, followed by a list of items that aren’t strictly necessary but will help!
- Two or three rags you use just for cleaning. Paper towels work too but create a lot of extra waste.
- An all-purpose or neutral cleaner of your choice.
- Dish soap.
- Access to clean, warm water.
Additional things that help:
- One large cooler or a couple of medium coolers.
- A medium-sized bucket to hold soapy water.
- A toothbrush dedicated to cleaning.
- Cheap, coarse salt.
- A friend, family member, or partner to help!
Before starting: Unplug your fridge
If possible, I recommend unplugging your refrigerator first thing. For one thing, this makes some steps, such as cleaning your fridge coils, much safer. For another, this will help you a lot when cleaning frozen leaks or spills in places like the freezer. It will also prevent your cleaning solution from freezing as you try to clean.
This is not completely necessary, but we do it whenever we clean a home with a fridge we can easily unplug!
Step 1: Empty your fridge:
A big obstacle we face when cleaning a refrigerator is what to do with the stuff. When most people approach cleaning anything, they resist moving too many things around, hoping to limit their volume work. Don’t fall into this trap!
Instead, approach cleaning with the intent to do it the best way, not the easiest way.
Where it concerns your fridge, that means: Don’t clean around its contents! Remove them instead.
Start with the freezer. A cooler is an excellent tool for keeping frozen items from thawing too much, and we recommend using one for frozen items. Begin to remove items one by one, checking their expiration dates as you go. If anything looks questionable or has expired, toss it!
When you finish emptying the freezer, move on to the fridge. Very few items are at risk of going bad if left out of the refrigerator for only an hour, but if you are nervous, feel free to use another cooler!
While you empty your fridge and freezer, start organizing items into areas that go together. Group up canned beverages in one place, produce in another, condiments somewhere else. Doing this now will save you time and effort when you begin to put these items back!
You’ve emptied food and drinks from the fridge and freezer, but you haven’t quite finished! Next, remove shelves and drawers, placing them near the sink or even outside by a hose. Anywhere that you can clean them where you’ve got plenty of space will do! These elements are much easier to clean once they are out of the fridge.
Once you have removed all of your food items, drawers, and shelves, celebrate your work so far! Acknowledging positive progress is a critical step when building habits, and this is a great moment to pause. Have a short break, enjoy a cool drink – whatever works for you. Then, it is time to get back to it!
Step 2: Clean the refrigerator body.
With the refrigerator empty of all contents, it is time to clean its body inside and out. If you have a standing refrigerator, the odds are good that it has wheels. Using help from a friend or partner, slide the fridge out of its usual spot out to where you can easily access each of its sides.
The top of the fridge is probably very dusty. Starting there, clean thoroughly with a neutral cleaner and a rag. Move on to its sides and then its front, paying particular attention to the top & sides of the doors. If necessary, use a toothbrush with warm, soapy water to clean gunky hinges, rubber gaskets & other hardware that get mildewy or full of crumbs!
Next, if you are up for it, safely clean your refrigerator coils.
Take a hand broom or similar large brush and sweep off the fridge coils. Next, use a vacuum hose to suck out all of the dust, cobwebs, and other debris that has collected in the coils.
If you want to finish cleaning your fridge coils with a damp wipe down, make sure you first unplug your fridge! Once you are sure there is no power running through it, give the fridge coils a light wipe down with a damp microfiber rag.
BONUS TIP: As long as you have the refrigerator out, why not quickly clean its home? I bet the floor is full of crumbs and dust bunnies. Now is a great chance to clean up an often-neglected space, especially if you’ve just wiped a heavy amount of dust off the top and out from the fridge coils.
The outside of your refrigerator is clean – it’s time to tackle the inside.
Somewhere down the line, it is likely that something wet and sticky leaked in your fridge. These can be annoying to deal with, but nothing you can’t solve with some warm, soapy water and elbow grease.
In the absence of annoying leaked juices or syrups, any neutral or all-purpose cleaner should work fine. Make sure to wipe the sides and ceiling of the fridge and sweep up any crumbs that have fallen through cracks and onto the fridge floor.
If you were unable or just didn’t want to unplug your unit, then leaks in the freezer are even more annoying than they are in the fridge. Never fear! Here’s a neat trick: add some salt. Salt lowers the freezing temperature of many liquids and can help you loosen that frozen puddle without having to thaw the whole freezer. Combined with warm, soapy water, you should see a difference. Make sure to use warm water, so that it doesn’t freeze while clean!
You’ve now cleaned your fridge inside & out – safely return your fridge to its spot in the kitchen!
By now, I bet you are working up a sweat. That’s great! You’re making awesome progress. Celebrate it! Take five minutes to step outside and breathe fresh air. Drink some water!
Step 3: Shelves & drawers.
It is much easier to clean shelves & drawers thoroughly if they are out of the fridge. Wash them like you wash dishes, dry them, and place them out of your way as you go. If you have a yard with a hose, that can be a great way of doing this quickly without feeling congested in the kitchen’s limited space.
BE CAREFUL not to wash your glass fridge shelves with hot water immediately after removing them! Using hot water on the cold glass may cause your shelves to shatter, which will ruin your day at best or cause injuries at worst. Give your shelves ample time after removing them to reach room temperature and clean them with cool water for extra safety.
Once clean and dry, replace them in the fridge. Many fridges can be configured in multiple ways, and this is an excellent opportunity to reorganize in a way that suits your needs!
Step 4: How to organize your fridge
All that is left to do is to return the food you removed at the beginning. Hopefully, you took time at the top to organize it all!
The temptation here, so close to the end, is to get lazy with your organization. Fight that temptation! Now is your chance to do a good job organizing the food in your refrigerator. Here are our best organization tips!
Everyone’s mind works differently, so what works well for some may not work well for you. Trust yourself and be willing to try different ideas!
Consider using clear, sturdy glass containers. Most people just put food into the fridge in the same packaging it came in from the store. Using clear containers instead helps make everything in your fridge easy to see, so it will be harder to forget what you have. Not only that, but they will make it easier for you to organize your shelves because you won’t rely on random shapes and sizes of food containers.
Speaking of making things easy to see: Many refrigerators have drawers dedicated to fruits and vegetables. However, if you are anything like me, you might forget about any food you put in there. Consider using these drawers for your least perishable foods instead, and keep your produce in easy view!
Anytime you return from the grocery store, try making a habit of taking the food out of its original container and placing them into the transparent, reusable containers you purpose for that food. Old-fashioned milk bottles are great for milk and juices. Lining the bottom of your produce containers with paper towels can help to lengthen its shelf-life. Using a reusable egg drawer will help keep your eggs safe from being crushed and let you access your eggs without needing to take the whole carton in and out.
A million incredible resources exist online that advertise different organizational products. Take a little bit of time to discover what excites you, and try various solutions until you uncover what works best for you!
Final step: Relax!
You did it! That was a big chore you’ve just completed. Now it is time to rest. Make sure you celebrate the work you’ve done in whatever way suits you best. I like indulging in a handful of peanut M&Ms while I watch an episode of my favorite sitcom. How do you like to wind down?
We at Master Clean USA believe that a clean, organized home can be life-changing. We exist to improve the lives of those we serve, one clean home at a time. Maintaining a well-organized, clean fridge is a fantastic step, and we hope this guide helped you.
Are you interested in other great ways of keeping a clean, life-giving home? Keep an eye on our blog for more awesome tips!
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