How To Deep Clean Your Refrigerator

February 06, 2017 Allison Hess


We’ve all experienced that horrifying moment when we swing open the refrigerator door and cringe at an unexpected, horrifying, funky smell inside. So we sniff everything in the fridge, throw out perfectly good food, and still it stinks.


 Why Does Your Fridge Stink?  

Have you seen the Febreeze nose blind commercials? These advertisements talk about not masking the odor but eliminating them from the air altogether. Did you know that the stinky food in your fridge could have this same effect?


Smells can linger in the fridge for days, weeks, even months after it’s been discarded. A stinky fridge is more than just expired food. Spills, stickiness, bacteria, air odor, and improperly working mechanisms can all lead to odors.


A smelly fridge isn’t only bad for your nose. These odors can also make fresh foods expire quicker or, worse, get you and your family sick. Spills and lingering germs from old food can introduce bacteria and mold onto fresh food, creating that nausea you get from smelling—and eating—the goods in your fridge.


A dirty fridge also means your fridge has to work overtime. With added bacteria and spills, your fridge has to exert more power to keep food cool. This can cause mechanisms to break, leading to more expired food, more stink, and more cost.


How Often Should You Clean?

The Wall Street Journal found that most Americans only clean their refrigerators once or twice a year, and usually only when prompted by that funky smell. In opposition, it’s recommended to clean your fridge at least twice per month.


Dirty fridges are such an epidemic in the U.S. that there is a National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day on November 15 each year. (We love National Day Calendar’s tips on “How To Observe” this holiday.)


The fridge-cleaning timeline should look like this:


  • Once per week: Check for spoiled, expired, and moldy food. Clean and sanitize external part of the fridge (especially door handles).


  • Once every other week: Clean fridge’s inside shelves and drawers.


  • Once every month: Clean your freezer.


Do your weekly cleaning the day before you tend to go grocery shopping. You will likely have fewer items in your fridge that you’ll need to leave out in a non-chilled environment while cleaning.


Another tip? Don’t put milk and eggs on the door. The door is the warmest part of the fridge, which means it attracts bacteria faster and can cause spoilage. This bacteria enters the fridge air and can ruin the other food as well. It can even enter your kitchen and sit on your countertops when you open up your fridge door! In our next article, we will talk more about fridge organization to keep you, your family, and your fridge healthy.


How Should You Deep Clean Your Fridge?  

After you throw out everything that is old or moldy, remove each shelf and drawer one by one. Clean each part by hand outside of the refrigerator, to ensure you are reaching all of the nooks and crannies (most gunk gets stuck between the shelf and the back wall). Make sure that you clean below the bottom drawers as well, as that’s the dirtiest part of the fridge.


Avoid using bleach or hot water, as this could damage your fridge and possibly endanger your food. Instead, use a mild soap with warm water. Focus on the act of scrubbing rather than on the chemicals. Dry thoroughly with a cloth to ensure no water or soap gets trapped inside. (If you insist on using a cleaning product, try Lysol wipes. They will disinfect and remove smells without damage.)


Use a bacteria killer and air purifier. It’s common practice to put baking soda in the fridge to remove smells. However, most people open a pack, put it in, and leave it there until they move out. Most baking soda is only effective for up to six months—even less time if you have a large fridge.


Instead, opt for an air refrigerator filter that will keep your fridge’s air fresh, clean, and safe for a much longer time. Home Revolution’s Frigidaire Pure Air Refrigerator Filter eliminates smells caused by bacteria in an earth-friendly way to keep your fridge and kitchen odor-free. Check out our other refrigerator air and water purifiers that keep your fridge and food lasting longer and smelling better.


A stinky fridge can mean health problems, spoiled food, and overworking mechanisms. Take simple cleaning measures, like frequent cleanings and low-cost air purifiers, to eliminate bacteria and keep your kitchen happy and odorless.

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