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How to Clean a Refrigerator

Last Updated: September 26, 2022

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 cleaning routine. Learn how to get your fridge shiny, clean, and spill-free with our easy-peasy fridge cleaning guide.

If you’ve ever found an orange that looks more like a tomato, or a moldy tupperware that looks like it might sprout legs and run off, then you know how important it is to keep your fridge clean.

Moldy fruits, spilled milk, and rogue meat drippings can all lead to a dangerous bout of cross-contamination — so it’s a good idea to set aside some time for an old-fashioned deep-clean. You know, for hygiene and health and all that jazz! Follow our step-by-step guide to clean your refrigerator, plus some bonus tips to keep it clean between scrub-downs.

How often should you clean your refrigerator?

Blue calendar illustration


Refrigerators get messy pretty quickly without regular upkeep. Everyday, wipe away spilled liquids, dollops of jams and jellies, and any other food crumbs, bits, and debris that inevitably appear.


Once a week, peek inside the fridge and take out any expired foods, leftover food you aren’t going to eat, and any moldy or spoiled foods. Take care of this weekly check-in before you go grocery shopping so you know what you need to restock. Bonus: you’ll have a clean fridge with plenty of room for new groceries.


Twice a year, set aside time for a refrigerator deep-clean. Clean the shelves, drawers, and the backside of the fridge — including the coils. Check condiment expiration dates. Wipe down the top of the fridge and if you’re able, pull the fridge away from the wall so you can clean underneath it. You’ll be amazed how filthy these areas can get!

Clean the kitchen from top to bottom with our ultimate kitchen cleaning guide.

What you’ll need to clean a refrigerator

a double photo collage of an open refrigerator with a messy before and a clean after
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda

We Tried It: How to clean the inside of the fridge, step-by-step

a hand on a bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap filling a kitchen sink with water.

Before you start, clear off your countertops so you have somewhere to put the contents of the fridge while you clean it. Then, fill one side of the sink with hot, soapy water.

Step 1: Empty the fridge: If anything has expired or gone bad, compost what you can, toss out what you can’t, and if possible, recycle whatever it was in. Set everything else on the counter.

Step 2: Remove the shelves and drawers: Set them in or next to the sink. Soak your microfiber cloth in the hot, soapy water, and schlep it over the shelves. Fill the drawers with about a half-inch of the soapy water, and give them a quick once-over. Let them sit while you work on step 3.

the writer of this here blog cleaning and replacing the clean shelves of her refrigerator

Step 3: Scrub the interior: Soak your microfiber in the hot, soapy water again, and give the inside of the fridge a good scrubbing. Get into all of the nooks and crannies — use an old toothbrush for tight spots or stubborn bits. To loosen any sticky, stuck-on gunk on the fridge floor, sprinkle it with baking soda, and squeeze some of the hot soapy water over it. Let it work while you tackle the back, walls, and ceiling. Rinse with a clean microfiber soaked in hot water.

Show your appliances some love with our stove burner and kitchen cabinet cleaning guides.

Step 4: Wash the shelves and drawers: Scrub the tops and bottoms of the shelves and the insides and outsides of the drawers. Dry them, and put them back in the fridge.

Step 5: Put the good food away: Wipe down all of the bottles, jars, and containers with the hot, soapy microfiber cloth before you put them away.


Unplug to conserve energy

"Turn off or unplug your fridge as you clean it so you aren't blasting cold air into the room while you clean,” says Danielle Jezienicki, Grove Collaborative's Director of Sustainability. “It’s also a good idea to try to keep the door closed as much as possible to not waste energy. Maybe even clean the fridge late in the evening so it can re-cool itself overnight when demand for energy is lower."

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

Now that it’s clean, promise yourself you’ll never let it get that bad again.

  • Clean up spills right away.
  • Keep ethylene and non-ethylene produce separated.
  • Line the shelves with removable shelf liner for easy clean up.
  • Regularly check for expired items.
  • Wipe sticky containers and bottles before putting them back.
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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.

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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