How Often Should I Clean My Dorm Fridge?

June 06, 2018 Allison Hess


How Often Should I Clean My Dorm Fridge?

A fridge is a must-have for college dorms. It’s the most convenient way to have snacks and drinks on-hand for those late night cram sessions and chats with friends.

But too many college kids don’t clean their fridge enough. Your fridge is what holds the food you consume every day. If your fridge isn’t clean, bacteria and gunk can transfer to the food that you put into your body. This is especially true if you keep raw food and cooked food in the same fridge.

This kind of cross-contamination can lead to a number of health problems, including digestive concerns, brain fog, decreased immunity, and even disease.

Regularly cleaning your dorm fridge is the best way to keep your health strong in college.

How often should you clean your dorm fridge?

You should clean your dorm fridge once weekly.

For some college kids, that might feel excessive. Some students don’t even make their beds weekly.

But what you put into your body is the number one factor of health, productivity, and performance. You want to ensure that the food you’re putting you consume is healthy—so you can be healthy in turn.

That means the fridge where you hold your food should be clean and healthy as well.

A few minutes spent cleaning your fridge every week is worth the improved health and mental clarity that comes with fresh, healthy food!

How Often Should I Clean My Dorm Fridge?

How do you clean a dorm fridge?

1. Purge expired food.

Don’t wait until the end of the semester to throw out all that moldy food. You should be throwing out old or expired food weekly. If food gets too old, it will start to grow mold spores. This mold can spread to fresh foods. Some molds can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and digestive concerns. Some are even toxic.

Once a week, go through all the food in your fridge and throw out anything that’s past the expiration date.

A good way to know when to throw out your food is with a tracker system. Attach a dry erase board to your fridge. Itemize your groceries on the board with the date that you put it in the fridge and the date that they expire (if it says on the package).

This is a quick and easy way to visually see when good has gone bad.

It can also help you keep track of food that’s about to go bad, so you can consume it and minimize your food waste!  

2. Wipe down.

You don’t have to deep clean your fridge weekly. A simple wipe-down with an antibacterial solution will help remove germs and odors for the week ahead. After throwing out all expired food, wipe down each shelf.

Don’t forget to wipe down the veggie bins and the seals that keep the doors closed. The door seals harbor and grow some of the worst bacteria in the fridge!

You should also wipe down the outside of the fridge. Usually, soap and water work well. If you have a stainless steel fridge, a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water can help remove stains and restore shine. Test on a small area before using to make sure there are no adverse effects. White vinegar is one of the best natural cleaning solutions, so it’s great to have around the dorm anyway.

How Often Should I Clean My Dorm Fridge?

How do you deep clean a fridge?

You should deep clean your dorm fridge at least once per semester. You’ll also want to do this before any major breaks where you’ll be gone from the dorm for four or more days.

1. Remove everything from the fridge.

Throw out all expired food. If you’re going to be gone for more than four days, you might want to consider throwing out all perishables.

If not, put the perishables you’ll keep in a cooler with ice so the food doesn’t go bad while cleaning the fridge. Put back in the fridge when you’re done with the deep cleaning process.

P.S. Don’t forget to look at the date on your condiments. Ketchup, mustard, and mayo have a tendency to sit in the fridge for much longer than they should.  

2. Defrost

24 hours before you leave for break, you should defrost your fridge. This helps conserve energy while ensuring your fridge doesn’t blow out or stop working while you’re on break. This is especially important if you’re leaving your fridge unattended for a long period, like on winter and spring breaks.

You’ve already removed all the food from the fridge. Unplug the refrigerator and prop open the fridge door.

Place a thick towel on the bottom shelf. You can also play a tray underneath the open door. These are used to absorb any water that melts out from the fridge.

Leave the fridge open and defrosting (and unplugged) overnight. In the morning, wipe down the excess moisture and remove the towels and trays.

This will make it easier to deep clean as well!

3. Remove drawers.

The rest of the deep cleaning should happen the day after you’ve defrosted the fridge.

Now that all the food is out of the fridge and the fridge is unplugged, take the meat and vegetable drawers out (if applicable). You’ll want to soak these in warm, sudsy water.

We recommend using eco-friendly dishwashing liquid. You can soak these drawers in the kitchen sink or in the bathtub (as long as the bathtub and sink are recently cleaned themselves).

4. Clean fridge interior.

You’ll want to use a natural cleaner for the inside of your fridge. We typically recommend 2 tablespoons of baking soda diluted in 1 liter of hot water. This creates a heavy solution that helps disinfect, remove bacteria, and squash odors. Plus, it’s eco-friendly so you’re not putting harsh chemicals in your fridge.

Tip: Never use harsh or abrasive cleaners in your fridge. You should never use bleach or other chemicals inside your fridge. These can hang around in the fridge for days, seeping it into your food and making you sick.

Make sure that you clean:

  • Shelves
  • Door panels
  • Drawer holders
  • Top of fridge
  • Bottom of fridge
  • Door seals

5. Wipe Clean.

After cleaning with the baking soda solution, you’ll want to wipe the fridge clean. Use a fresh, damp cloth to remove any remnants of the baking soda solution.

Then, dry with a clean cloth. You want to always make sure your fridge is dry before closing the door to ensure ice, mold, and bacteria don’t form.

6. Rinse drawers.

Now that the fridge is clean, you can take the drawers out of the sink or tub. Rinse them in warm water to remove all suds. Dry thoroughly with a clean towel and put back in the fridge.

How Often Should I Clean My Dorm Fridge?

Fridge cleaning tips

  1. Keep an open box of baking soda in the bottom of the fridge. This can help soak up odors to keep your fridge and kitchen smelling fresh.
  2. Immediately wipe away stains or handprints from the outside of the fridge as they happen.
  3. Wipe spills in the fridge right away. Use a food-safe antibacterial spray and paper towels.
  4. Keep all raw meat in a sealable storage bag or container so it won’t leak fluids. This can also prevent it from going bad. You might also want to use one of your veggie drawers to store raw meat away from cooked food (if you have separate drawers in your fridge; some mini-fridges don’t).
  5. If your fridge serves water, you’ll want to clean or replace your water filter every six months. Follow manufacturer instructions in the manual.
  6. Don’t overstuff your fridge. You should leave enough space so that air can circulate in between the food.
  7. Keep your fridge away from a heat source like a furnace, hot water heater, or direct sunlight.
  8. If your fridge has a freezer, don’t put in an unheated or cold area. It seems counterintuitive, but low temperatures will cause the compressor to turn on less frequently, so it may not be able to keep your food frozen.


Keeping your fridge clean is the basis of healthy, fresh food.

How often do YOU clean your dorm fridge? Let us know in the comments below!

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