Written by Grove Collaborative

Clean Team: How to clean a refrigerator.

Last Updated: December 29, 2020

Keeping your refrigerator as clean as possible helps reduce the risks of food contamination. Follow our step-by-step guide for cleaning a refrigerator.

Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

Why should you clean your refrigerator?

Let’s break this down. Your refrigerator is the place where you put all of your food items, fresh or new, raw or cooked. Therefore, it is essential to keep it as hygienic as possible to reduce the risks of contaminating the food.

Contamination can happen via dripping containers, moldy fruits and vegetables, spilled milk, and all kinds of other ways. If you’ve ever removed a green piece of cheese from the cheese drawer, you know we speak the truth! Therefore, keeping your refrigerator clean isn’t just a suggestion but a necessity.

How often should I clean my refrigerator?

Refrigerators can get messy very quickly without regular upkeep. For everyday cleaning, it’s a great idea to wipe away any spilled liquids, dollops of jams and jellies, and any other food crumbs, bits, and debris that inevitably appear.

Before getting your weekly groceries, take a peek inside the fridge and take out anything you don’t want to eat, anything that is past its expiry date, and all moldy or spoiled foods.

Every year do a seasonal refrigerator cleaning. Aim for at least twice a year. While doing these deep cleanses, be sure to clean the backside of the fridge, including the coils, plus the top and bottom of the fridge. You’ll be amazed how filthy these areas can get!

How do I clean & disinfect my refrigerator?

It’s always important to clean your refrigerator on a regular basis. Not only does it make your fridge look nice when it’s clean and sparkly, it also helps keep it in good working order.

Of course, there’s also the tiny argument that having a clean fridge is simply better for you than having a dirty one. Hygiene and health and all that jazz. Why should cleanliness only be relegated sinks and countertops? All major appliances deserve a good scrub now and then.

Refrigerator cleaning can be done quickly and easily if you know what steps to follow and have the right items to attempt it. Here, we've listed the necessary products, as well as step-by-step instructions for cleaning a refrigerator.

How to clean the inside of the fridge: Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: The first step is to empty out the refrigerator completely, including all food items, trays, and drawers.

Step 2: If possible, soak the trays in your sink or a big basin, using hot water to soften up the dirt and grime.

Step 3: Spray a mixture of dish soap and warm water onto the drawers, both inside and out, assuming the drawers don’t fit in the sink or basin. Leave them to rest and for the soap mixture to work its magic.

Step 4: Spray the same cleaning solution on the inside walls of the fridge, as well as the side racks.

Step 5: Using a microfiber cloth, wipe the walls down until clean.

Step 6: For stubborn stains or dried up food leftovers, apply a paste made with baking soda and water. Let it sit for a few minutes.

Step 7: With the help of a sponge, scrub the stain until it comes off.

Step 8: You can also use a microfiber cloth soaked in hot water to compress over the stain. This will help loosen and melt the stain, making it easier to remove.

Step 9: Using a sponge, rinse the soaked trays until clean.

Step 10: For the drawers, wipe with a clean microfiber cloth and dry thoroughly before putting them back inside.

Grove tip

Warm it up

For glass trays, wait until the tray warms up to room temperature, to prevent shattering before treating with hot water.

How to clean the outside of the refrigerator: Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Spritz an all-purpose cleaning spray onto the outside of the fridge.
Step 2: Taking a microfiber cloth, gently wipe the refrigerator door and sides.
Step 3: Make a solution of liquid dish soap with water.
Step 4: Using a microfiber cloth, wipe the gasket/rubber seal of the door.
Step 5: In case of stubborn food or mold on the gasket, use a bleach-based cleaner directly on top of it.
Step 6: Wipe off with a clean microfiber cloth to ensure no bleach fumes seep into the food.

Optional steps to deep clean:

Step 7: Ensure the refrigerator is unplugged and then locate the coils.
Step 8: Use a coil brush (a long bottle brush) to clean off and around the coils.
Step 9: Vacuum any debris on the floor and continue using the refrigerator.

Grove tip

Disinfect naturally

If you use hot water while washing / cleaning out the fridge and washing the refrigerator trays, it works nicely as a disinfectant. Another disinfectant option that can be effective is vinegar. Just make a solution of vinegar and water to naturally clean your refrigerator without using additional cleaning products.

What preventive measures can I take to keep my refrigerator clean?

To help keep your refrigerator clean and odor-free, there are definitely some pre-emptive moves you can make! Consider:

  • Cleaning spills right away.
  • Keeping ethylene and non-ethylene items separate.
  • Lining your fridge shelves using placemats or sticky wrap. In case of spills, simply remove and replace the liner.
  • Wiping sticky containers and bottles before putting them back.
  • Beautifying! You can also place soft, pretty towels on your shelves and then throw them in the wash when they get soiled.

Sustainability tip

Axe the deep freeze

"Turn off or unplug your fridge as you clean it so that you aren't blasting cold air into the room while you clean — and as a reminder to try to keep the door closed as much as possible to not waste energy," recommends Danielle Jezienicki, Grove Collaborative's director of sustainability. "Maybe even clean it late in the evening so that it can recool itself overnight when demand for energy is lower."

What are the best refrigerator cleaning products?

Although all we sell a range of natural alternatives to conventional cleaners, some of our favorite natural cleaners are:

There’s no two ways about it. The best way to clean a refrigerator is to stay on top of it and make it a regular part of your kitchen upkeep routine. Use our pre-emptive strategies to help keep the inside sparkling in between scrub downs, and try some of our favorite Grove cleaning products for those tougher jobs.

Shop refrigerator-cleaning products

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered. From timely topics such as our handwashing and hand sanitizer breakdown to evergreen primers like our simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home, our handy guides are here to answer your most pressing questions. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

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