How to Clean A Refrigerator

A clean refrigerator is a necessity for keeping your food safe to eat. Bacteria and mold can grow in hidden areas where moisture gets trapped. This can easily spread to food and beverage items that are stored in the refrigerator. A thoroughly cleaning should be completed periodically, with more frequent, simple cleanings in between.

Deep Cleaning Your Refrigerator

You Will Need:

  • Insulated bags or coolers
  • Soft cloths
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Trash can
  • Bags or boxes (optional)

Steps to Clean the Fridge:

  1. Before you can clean the refrigerator, it needs to be empty.
  2. Set up a sorting station with a cooler for perishable items that need to be kept cold, a bag or box for produce and items that will be fine to be out of refrigeration for the duration of the cleaning and a trash can.
  3. Remove each item and place it in the appropriate container. Dispose of items that are expired.
  4. Remove the shelves and drawers carefully.
  5. Place the shelves and drawers in a large sink or tub.
  6. Wash them with hot water and an all purpose sanitizer
  7. Rinse them completely and wipe dry with a soft cloth.
  8. While they dry, you can clean out the interior of the fridge.
  9. Mix ΒΌ cup baking soda with 4 cups water. Baking soda is a safe and effective sanitizer and deodorizer. Soap can be added as well, but must be rinsed away completely.
  10. Moisten a cloth with the baking soda and water mixture.
  11. Wipe down the interior walls and door.
  12. If desired, rinse with a clean cloth and clean water.
  13. Clean the gaskets around the door to remove any dirt or mildew that may have been caught or developed in those areas.
  14. Dry the surfaces with a soft cloth.
  15. Once the interior is free of any drips, splashes or food debris, replace the clean shelves and drawers.
  16. Return the food items. For ideas on organizing the refrigerator, see our guide 10 Ways to Better Organize Your Refrigerator
  17. Maintain your clean refrigerator with our light cleaning steps below.

Light Cleanings to Maintain Your Clean Refrigerator

You Will Need:

  • Warm water
  • Soft cloths
  • Soap (optional)

Steps to Clean the Fridge:

  1. Light cleanings are best completed when the refrigerator is nearing empty. The day before grocery shopping day often presents a prime time to give the refrigerator a quick touch up.
  2. Moisten a soft cloth with warm water. If there are spills that need more, soap can be added to the water. Be sure to rinse these areas completely to remove any soap residue.
  3. Move items to the side to wipe the shelves down and remove any debris, drips and spills.
  4. Discard any outdated or expired items.
  5. Wipe the rubber gasket around the door. This is a common place for mold to grow, and frequent cleanings will help to prevent it.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Common items that leave debris on your fridge shelves are jelly containers, syrup bottles and milk jugs. The drips from these items often leave a residue that collects dirt. Wipe these containers frequently to remove any drips or runs.
  • Cleaning your refrigerator with baking soda will also help to remove odors that may be present.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to make cleaning days easier and faster.


  1. Cindy says:

    I use mouthwash to wash out the inside of my refrigerator. It works great, leaves a clean fresh scent and you don’t have to worry about using it around food stuffs.

  2. Bigmommy says:

    Just pour some baking soda in a bucket of warm water. For sticky stains, pour the baking soda directly on the area and scrub with a wet rag. Baking soda is a very mild abrasive so it won’t scratch. It works great to clean and deodorize.

  3. Anne says:

    Throw out old, moldy or expired food. Toss anything you don’t use regularly, too.

    Wipe your refrigerator inside and outside with a cloth and baking soda water solution, rinsing well with a washcloth and water.

    Keep your refrigerator organized, with meats and cheese and butter in one shelf box, and vegetables in the crisper.

    Place an open box of baking soda in the fridge to adsorb excess moisture and smell.

  4. Eileen says:

    My appliance repairman told me to place used coffee grounds in the fridge and/or the freezer to remove odors. He said to change the grounds once a month. It worked for the fish odor that had been my problem.

  5. Mary says:

    Bought an older condo. The bottom shelf of fridge has red and yellow stains. How do I get that off? Can anyone tell me? Thank you.

  6. Melanie says:

    The red and yellow stains in the fridge sound like they could be from food dye. For that, this is the article that you need: How to Clean Food Dyes from Plastics.

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