Cleaning Your Refrigerator

Today I will show you how to deeply clean your refrigerator. Refrigerators are a useful appliance in everyone’s kitchen, although it can easily get neglected.  We stuff it full of food and shut the door.  No one has to see the mess.  My refrigerator is usually very disgusting.  We have tons of milk jugs getting pulled in and out many times in the course of a day.  Because we have a family milk cow and because we make a lot of of our own dairy products, we have a fair amount of milk spills in our refrigerator.  The milk drips down the side of the jugs as the children take what they need and it always leaves behind a crusty milk ring.

Do not cry over spilt milk…
Clean your refrigerator instead!

Step 1.  Remove all items from the refrigerator. Place all items into a cooler to keep it cold while you are cleaning.  You may be surprised to find things that have gotten shoved to the back and forgotten.  It may have moss growing on it or smell rotten.  I like to have a trash can handy to throw the things that are beyond saving.  Other things, like vegetables that are wilting, I would feed to our chickens.  If you have chickens or pigs, they enjoy the leftover vegetables.  If you do not have animals, you could put the older produce into a compost bin.  It is always a good thing to repurpose everything you can to be more resourceful.

If you plan to clean the freezer as well, it would be a good idea to unplug your refrigerator so the freezer can defrost while you are cleaning the other areas.  Treat the freezer the same as the refrigerator in all the steps listed below for cleaning…

Step 2.  Vacuum or brush out all the loose crumbs.
Step 3.  Remove drawers and shelving and set them aside.
Step 4.  Spray everything down with straight vinegar.
Vinegar helps to absorb odor and because it is acidic, it will disinfect as well.
Make a very simple scouring powder…

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup borax
  • 1/4 cup course sea salt
  • 4-6 drops of essential oil (We used doTERRA Citrus Bliss—Smells like an orange dreamsicle.  I got this recipe from

Sprinkle the scouring powder on all the surfaces, in the drawers, on the shelves and leave it set for about 3-5 minutes.  It will bubble and fizz because the vinegar and baking soda are reacting.  Do not worry, this reaction is not harmful.  It actually helps deeply cleanse.  Concentrate on all the tough spills.
Step 5. Taking a damp rag, scrub everything down really well.  You may have to rinse out the rag and continue scrubbing several times over to remove the tough spills if you have them.  Have a bucket of water handy for rinsing and reapplying if necessary.
Step 6. Wipe everything down with a clean, damp rag to catch the rest of the dirt, crumbs, or scouring powder.  Wipe down with a dish towel to dry everything and make it shine.
Step 7.  Return all items to the refrigerator.  Make some decisions where you plan to store them.  I like to have my refrigerator organized by food groups.  I will put all my dairy products in one area, my vegetables in another, my condiments in the door shelves, and my protein foods together like eggs or meat.  This helps save time because you will know where to find things when you need them and there is less chance to forget things if they are in a certain place, thus saving money in the long run!  Wipe all items down with a damp cloth if there is buildup on any of the containers.
Step 8. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall to gently vacuum the coils in the back.  This will be a huge energy saving step.  It will run way more efficiently if you have the coils cleaned off properly.  Sweep and mop under your refrigerator because it is a dust magnet under there.  You will find all kinds of things under there, maybe even a lost treasure or two!
Step 9.  Clean the top of the refrigerator.  Remove all items that are stored there and taking your straight vinegar solution, spray the top and wipe it down.  Do the same on the entire outside of the refrigerator.  Use an old toothbrush reserved for cleaning to detail the under grate if needed.  The tiny bristles will be effective in between the little slots in there.
Step 10.  Clean the seal and handle.  There is a seal that runs along the door.  It is a place that can tend to mold and deteriorate.  If they are bad enough, you can contact the company the manufacturer and obtain a new seal. If it is dirty or a little moldy, you can try the scouring powder with the vinegar to scrub it clean as well as the handle.  The handle will definitely look dirty because people touch it with dirty hands from time to time.

Stand back and enjoy a fresh looking refrigerator!  It will smell great and look amazing.  To keep up with this, I suggest doing a run through each time you go grocery shopping.  That is what we have been doing for years and it makes it really easy to fit all our new food in there when we take things out and wipe it all down.  We do not remove the drawers or shelving, we just a quick wipe down with a damp rag and return all the food items back to their designated area.

Prevention is key!  If you can stay on top of things, you never get too far behind!  Happy Cleaning!

Join me next week when I show you how to detail the smaller appliances.

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11 thoughts on “Cleaning Your Refrigerator”

  1. Thank you for sharing. You gave me great suggestions how to clean my fridge. I have a question. How to remove mold from my refrigerator door seal ?

  2. I love love love and greatly appreciate the post you have done on cleaning. (I am greatfull for all of your writing actually:)
    I was wondering if you have a cleaning schedule that you use? If so, would you please share it? Thank you a million!!!:)

  3. I wanted to say thank you for your posts and videos. I had to share… even though the fridge part was the only part done (the freezer tomorrow) I had a cute little red head sitting in the bottom of the fridge trying to help me put the drawers back in. I just turned around and he climbed in. I was thankful for these little hands, even if it is going to take two days to to finish the job. (Smile)

  4. Connie, I am the same way. Add lavender oil to it or may r lemon oil. The addition of lavender oil is nice for the bathroom.
    I have used a hydrogen peroxide/water mix on dried blood from thawing,meat in the fridge as well as other grime with great results.

    1. Thanks Brianna. I have tried both actually. I’ve also tried wild orange, citrus bliss, and lime oils. If I can smell the faintest hint of vinegar, I get sick. Been that way my whole life. Not sure what it is. I know for many it has a pungent smell and for others it is a delightful smell. For me, it’s deathly! (not in the allergic sense, just in the “I can’t take it” sense)

  5. Love all the cleaning tips. You should do a post on how to deep clean a milking machine!! We would like to know the best way to keep one clean and I think you would be the person to tell us!! Thanks a bunch!

  6. Sounds great in theory… unless you tend to puke when you smell vinegar. I need to find a good way to get it sparkling clean without the use of vinegar. I can’t even be in the house when it’s in use.

  7. Thank you for your wonderful tutorials, I love them!
    We are praying for your family everyday. Hugs from Mexico!

  8. Thank you so much for doing this series. I came from a home in which my mother worked tirelessly to keep it emasculate. But, didn’t ever teach us how so I have been completely lost until now. I have actually enjoyed eat hinge your tutorials and seeing the results. My 3 year is son watched this one with me and he was all ready to go clean the fridge 🙂 We can’t wait for next week!

  9. This is my most loathed job in homemaking. I have to stop myself from inwardly sighing and groaning, and rather, remembering to be thankful in all circumstances! You’ve made it look almost fun, Erin! 🙂

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