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How to Clean a Refrigerator

Don't wait until you need a hazmat suit to approach those mystery leftovers hiding in the back of the fridge.


  • Step 1: Fill with water and vinegar Fill a bucket with half a gallon of warm water and add half a cup of white vinegar. If you prefer, you can substitute a few squirts of liquid dish detergent for the vinegar.
  • Step 2: Unplug refrigerator Unplug your refrigerator, or turn the temperature control knob to the "off" setting.
  • Step 3: Remove everything Remove everything edible. Throw out anything expired or spoiled.
  • TIP: Store perishable foods like eggs and meat in a portable cooler while you clean.
  • Step 4: Remove detachables Remove the shelves, bins, and any other detachable items. If you have a drip pan, remove and drain it. Set those pieces aside.
  • Step 5: Wipe inside Dampen your sponge in the cleaning solution and wipe the inside of the refrigerator from the top down, starting with the ceiling.
  • Step 6: Rinse and dry Wet a sponge with water and rinse everything. Then dry the areas you have just cleaned with a soft clean cloth.
  • Step 7: Wash & dry detachables Using the same cleaning solution, wash the shelves, bins, and drip pan. Dry everything.
  • TIP: Mold is the source of most refrigerator odors; make sure you scrub every nook and cranny so it doesn't have a chance to grow.
  • Step 8: Wipe off containers Wipe off any sticky food containers with a damp sponge. Dry them.
  • Step 9: Wipe and dry gasket Wipe down and then dry the gasket, which is the rubbery band around the door that seals the cold inside.
  • Step 10: Replace detachables Replace the shelves, bins, and any other refrigerator parts you removed.
  • Step 11: Return items Return your edible items to their proper spots inside your now-sparkling fridge.
  • TIP: To absorb odors, place a small bowl of baking powder or aquarium gravel inside.
  • Step 12: Wash and dry outside Use a warm soapy sponge to wash the outside of the refrigerator. Rinse if needed, and wipe it dry with a clean cloth.
  • Step 13: Plug in refrigerator Plug the refrigerator back in or turn the temperature knob back to its original setting. You're done! If you have the energy, go food shopping. You already know what you have so it's a great time to restock.
  • FACT: Meat and other perishables chill faster in smaller packages—and foods that chill quickly are less likely to spoil.

You Will Need

  • A bucket
  • 0.5 gal water
  • 0.5 c white vinegar
  • 2.0 scrubbing sponges
  • Some water
  • And two soft cloths
  • A mild detergent like liquid dish soap
  • A small bowl of aquarium gravel
  • or a box of baking powder
  • And a portable cooler

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