How to Clean Out and Deep Clean Your Fridge

The month of November is most commonly associated with Thanksgiving, but did you know November 15th marks another major holiday? You guessed it—“Clean Out Your Fridge Day” is coming up once again!

how to deep clean your fridge

Okay, so it may not be a major holiday everyone looks forward to, but this holiday comes at the perfect time. Falling roughly two weeks before Thanksgiving, “Clean Out Your Fridge Day” is the ideal time to clean out the fridge and make space for all of those delicious Thanksgiving leftovers. If you aren’t sure how to deep clean your fridge, consider this the ultimate go-to guide on how to clean out and deep clean your fridge.

How to deep clean your fridge

1. Plan ahead

This first step may not seem necessary, but to deep clean your fridge, you’ll first need to plan and prepare accordingly, because you’ll have to remove everything from it. Since bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, you’ll want to place dairy products, meats and other perishable items in a cooler bag with ice packs. As you begin to empty your fridge, set aside any food or products that are past their prime and have long since expired. (I’m looking at you, salad dressing that I never liked).

As far as timing goes, consider deep cleaning your fridge before you hit up the grocery store for your weekly haul. That way, you’ll have less food to sort through.

2. Turn off or unplug your fridge

David Cusick, Executive Editor at House Method, says before you do anything else, turn off or unplug the refrigerator and let it cool down to room temperature.

“While uncommon, you can end up damaging ceramic or glass [shelves] by washing them while they are still cold with hot water.” By unplugging the fridge and letting the inside shelves warm up to room temperature before you start cleaning, you ultimately diminish the risk of causing any damage to the shelving units.

3. Remove drawers and shelves

Next, take out all of the removable drawers and shelves. If it isn’t obvious on how to remove them, check the user manual before you damage anything. Referencing the user guide can even help you learn how to easily and properly put them back without causing extra stress or work for yourself. If you can’t find the user manual, check for it online.

4. Wash

Now it’s time to scrub-a-dub-dub. Grab a bucket and fill it with a quart of warm water then add either two tablespoons of baking soda or dish soap. Find a sponge or washcloth and start scrubbing!

If your fridge shelves are glass, it’s best to let them warm up to room temperature before cleaning them. If you use hot water, you may risk shattering them from the extreme change in temperature.

Rinse the drawers and shelves in clean, warm water. Then, set them aside to air dry or wipe them down with a clean towel before replacing.

5. Focus on the inside

When cleaning the inside of your fridge, Cusick recommends not using soap, vinegar or anything that can leave a scent.

“You simply don’t want any smells lingering after you clean. Hot water with a bit of baking soda works well enough. Vary the amount depending on how set in the mess is,” Cusick explains.

Pay particular attention to the grooves and runners where the drawers and shelves slide in as these are hot spots for crumbs, dirt and grime. (Yuck!) If you want to get nitty gritty, grab an old toothbrush, some toothpicks or q-tips and use them to remove any food residue that has accumulated in those hard to reach places.

6. Clean the coils

When deep cleaning your fridge, don’t forget to clean the coils on the bottom of your fridge. This ensures that your fridge is running as efficiently as possible and lasts a long time.

Erin Tannehill, Founder of The Tannehill Homestead, shares her instructions. “Start by unplugging and pulling the fridge away from the wall to access the coils. Use a brush and vacuum cleaner to get the dust and dirt out of the coils. Then put the fridge back in place and clean the front side by removing the panel and dusting. This is a great time to clean the panel as well. Once you’re finished, don’t forget to plug the fridge back in.”

7. Restock

Before you refill the fridge, make sure the fridge is at the proper temperature (around 41 degrees Fahrenheit); then you can begin the process of restocking.

Wipe everything down before returning it to its proper place, especially glass or plastic bottles that may be sticky. While you’re at it, take the time to refill the fridge in an organized manner that makes the most sense for each food item.

Gladys K. Connelly, co-owner of TheHouseWire.com, even suggests getting in the habit of keeping almost-expired food and drinks in the front of the fridge.

“You can save a lot of food that way! You can even put it in a box with a label on it that says, ‘Eat Soon’ or something like that.”

If you are a stickler for organization, Connelly recommends putting a sticky chalkboard label or magnet on each shelf to let everyone know what belongs there.

“It’ll make your fridge feel so much neater, trust me!”

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About Ashley Martens

Ashley Martens is a Wellness Writer based in Chicago, Illinois. With a background in a digital marketing coupled with her knowledge of general nutrition and a lifelong passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, Ashley offers a healthy alternative to traditional writing. You can learn more Ashley and her writing over at her blog, Three to Five a Day.