Cleaning Guides

How to Clean a Fridge Thoroughly Inside and Out

Andrey_Popov /

You’d probably say that cleaning is not rocket science. Everyone has to do it, one way or another. Moreover, the stores are inundated with fancy disinfectants and cleaning products to the extent that we end up buying the newest cleaner for the showerhead and a specially developed disinfectant for the dishwasher to make the cleaning easier.

Well, it’s all very good, but often, the how-to part is not detailed out on the product’s label.

So, we hope that today’s fridge cleaning post will be a helpful addition to our cleaning guides series, as keeping this food-cooling appliance spotless is, of course, important. After all, cross-contamination, food poisoning, device inefficiency and repair issues, and don’t be in shock – even pest problems, are all an unpleasant prospect, should you get sloppy with taking care of your fridge.

So, if you:

  • wish to learn some clever and time-saving fridge cleaning tips;
  • want to know how to easily maintain your fridge clean for longer;
  • wonder about how to organise and clean your fridge inside and out the right way;

Then, this post is just for you. Read on and find out how to sanitise your refrigerator (and freezer) properly.

Table of contents:

How often should you clean your refrigerator

Let’s start first with how often you should give your fridge a thorough clean, in order to keep bad odours at bay and prevent cross-contamination. Well, there isn’t a strict rule to this, as it will very much depend on how you organise and store your food products on a daily basis, as well as on how diligent you are when it comes to wiping spills and stains as soon as they appear.

Still, the rule of thumb is to defrost, empty out and sanitise your cooling and freezing device(s) about 4 times a year. This way, you’ll make sure that the long-forgotten frozen packet of peas or mouldy jar of mayonnaise at the back of the unit gets thrown away. Also, you won’t have to put up with stale and funky smells if you deep clean your fridge every 3-4 months. Last but not least, fungi, bacteria and even pest insects can easily find their way inside if you skip cleaning your fridge routinely.

Of course, we strongly advise that you check your appliance for expired products far more regularly, like once a week.

On another note, in these challenging times that we live in, it’s crucial to understand the difference between deep cleaning and sanitising on one hand, and disinfecting – on the other.

How to deep clean your fridge the right way

Right then, let’s see what steps are involved in the best way to clean your fridge. We’ll cover everything below, including what to use if you feel apprehensive about cleaning your refrigerator with products that contain chemicals.

Homemade fridge cleaners

To be fair, you don’t need to buy some expensive detergents to clean your fridge, that’s for sure. Instead, you can use natural substances like baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar. Diluted sufficiently, these simply don’t pose any risk of damaging your appliance. Natural cleaners are also much safer when it comes to cleaning items, where food is kept, of course. Note, however, that bicarb soda has abrasive properties, so use the product only on the fridge seals to avoid scratching removable and non-removable parts of your appliance.

How to clean your fridge on the inside

Before you do anything, turn off the fridge/freezer first. Empty the appliance out of all food products. Of course, make sure that frozen stuff will be used that day if you’re cleaning a combo refrigerator with a freezer.


  • Remove all the shelving, egg holders and trays;
  • Wash the removable parts with a mild dishwasher soap, rinse them thoroughly and dry them with a cloth or paper towel;
  • Address stubborn stains on inside surfaces by cleaning them with a homemade cleaner of your choice;
  • Clean the fridge seals with an old toothbrush, dipped in a paste, made of baking soda and some water, then wipe clean with a cloth;
  • Wipe the inside of your fridge with a damp clean cloth and dry well with paper towel;
  • Place back all the shelves and racks and you’re done.

Clean the freezer (if applicable) with a clean damp cloth and dry well.

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
Christmas Cleaning Guide for a Hassle-free Holiday

Sanitise your fridge on the outside

For the outside of your cooling appliance, you can use a multipurpose cleaner if you wish. Just make sure that it’s suitable for the material that your fridge is made of to avoid unwanted damage. Diluted washing-up liquid is also totally fine to use for the job. Don’t spray any substances, however, directly onto the coils if exposed. Dry well all the exterior surface of your fridge as a final step.

Do refrigerator water dispensers need cleaning?

If your cooling appliance is fitted with a water dispenser, you better give it a good clean, as well. You see, if you live in a hard-water area, mineral deposits will naturally build up inside and around the nozzle. Furthermore, bacteria can also accumulate inside the device.

To clean your fridge water dispenser, disconnect it from the water supply, first. Then, access the tubing by unscrewing the screw that holds it. The safest way to clean the water dispenser is with distilled white vinegar. Attach a suitable funnel to the end of the tubing. Pour the vinegar and leave it to sit for a bit before reconnecting the device to the water supply and rinsing thoroughly the unit. Make sure to clean the nozzle, too, with a toothbrush and a cloth.

What about cleaning the fridge coils?

Not all fridge models have their coils exposed, placed either at the back of the appliance or underneath it. But if this is the case with your refrigerator, then it’s vital to give these elements a good clean to ensure that your fridge continues working efficiently. Dust and general grime easily build up on and around the coils, making your appliance work harder. So, grab your vacuum cleaner and remove all the accumulated fluff. Then, use a soft-bristle brush to remove any remaining dirt particles. Finally, if you wish, give the coils a good wipe with a slightly damp cloth and then, dry them out.

Do not ever clean the fridge coils while the fridge is on.

How to eliminate bad odours from your fridge

Removing smells from your fridge will come naturally by simply deep cleaning it regularly and by learning how to store your food properly inside, of course. Still, sometimes, no matter what you do, you may experience whiffs of lingering unpleasant odours, every time you open your fridge door.

So, here are a few hacks on how to keep your fridge fresh-smelling at all times:

  • Place a bowl of bicarb soda or oatmeal inside, on a middle shelf, to absorb any bad smells;
  • Sprinkle a few coffee beans on a baking paper;
  • A few slices of fresh lemon can also do the trick (replace regularly with new);
  • A few drops of essential oil in a cup of water can also help;
  • A couple of cinnamon sticks will definitely ensure that your fridge smells nice and sweet;
  • The same goes for using a few vanilla beans, placed inside your cooling appliance.

Last but not least, always store your food correctly if you don’t want the smell of raw onions and yesterday’s curry dish to take over the inside of your refrigerator, that’s for sure.

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
How to Clean a Kitchen Thoroughly – Checklist

How to maintain your fridge clean the easy way

To keep your food safe for consumption, it’s important to maintain your fridge and freezer clean and well organised at all times. Moreover, overloading your appliance with food stuff that ends up in the bin, due to lack of planning, can cost you a fair bit. On top, this will contribute to having a tricky fridge cleaning maintenance time and to the build-up of funny odours from products that are always about to expire.

So, make sure that you:

  • Buy what you’re going to eat, say, that week.
  • Organise your food by expiry date and eat what will go off first.
  • Raw meats need to be stored properly to avoid blood stains and cross contamination.
  • Ready meals and last night’s leftovers also need to be kept in suitable containers.
  • Cover shelvings with cling film, for instance, or aluminium foil, which can be replaced easily if spills occur.
  • Wipe stains as soon as you spot them.
  • Always give your appliance a quick clean when there are only a few items inside, before stocking it again for the week.
  • You can give your newly purchased food products a good wipe or a rinse before placing them inside, too, considering the current health crisis we live in.
You may also like:
Fantastic News
How Have Aussies’ Cleaning Habits Changed Since COVID-19’s Arrival?


  • Deep clean your fridge regularly, about 4 times a year, to avoid health-hazard issues, due to cross-contamination.
  • You don’t need fancy detergents to sanitise your refrigerator, as you can use natural ingredients, you’ve got at home.
  • Storing food properly and not overstocking your appliance will help you maintain your fridge clean much more easily.
  • You can remove bad smells from your fridge in a number of natural ways.
  • If you don’t have the time, you can always count on a professional cleaner to deep clean your kitchen, fridge, oven and any other appliances.

Need help with cleaning your home?

Get a Fantastic professional to do your house cleaning chores, instead!

Add a valid postcode e.g. 3000
  • We're certified:

How often do you clean your fridge? Do you have your own fridge cleaning tips? Then, why not share them with our readers in the comment section below?

5 2 Votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x