Woman taking food out of refrigerator

How To Clean A Refrigerator

In 7 Steps

Part of serving great food is making sure that your ingredients are stored in the best way possible. That’s why it’s important to keep your fridge clean and organized—not only will it help you find what you need, but it can also help dairy, meats, produce and other foods stay fresh. Not sure how to get started? This guide on how to clean a refrigerator will show you how to keep your fridge neat and tidy.

What are the Steps to Cleaning a Fridge?

Before you get started, it’s important to know what to use to clean a refrigerator. Use the following supplies and tools to sanitize your fridge.

Supplies

  • A clean sponge or soft cloth

  • Hot water 

  • Clean towels 

  • Garbage bags
  • Large container or bucket 
  • Toothbrush (optional)

Tools

  • Affresh® appliance cleaner 
  • Mild detergent 

  • Baking soda 

  • Vinegar

TIP:

Do not use abrasive or harsh cleaners such as window sprays, scouring cleansers, flammable fluids, cleaning waxes, concentrated detergents, bleaches or cleansers containing petroleum products on plastic parts, interior and door liners or gaskets.

View of open KitchenAid® Multi-Door Refrigerator

1. Remove Food from the Refrigerator and Freezer

You’ll first want to take out all items that you have in the fridge, making sure to store any perishables in a cooler or undercounter refrigerator. Any expired items or old leftover food should be placed in a garbage bag and disposed of right away. Other items can be placed on a kitchen counter or table while you clean, but avoid keeping your food out longer than 2 hours.

2. Unplug the Refrigerator

To avoid wasting electricity as you clean your refrigerator, unplug your fridge or turn off the switch at the breaker box. This won’t be as much of an issue if you have removable shelves and drawers, but if you’ll be keeping your door open for an extended period of time, unplug the fridge.

3. Remove Shelves and Storage Bins from the Refrigerator

Take any of the removable shelving and drawers from the inside of the fridge, and let them come to room temperature before washing them. Different refrigerators will also have various styles of shelves and drawers, so familiarize yourself with the owner’s guide to know which parts are removable. 

  •  Glass shelves and covers are heavy. Use both hands when removing them to avoid dropping.

4. Wash Refrigerator Shelves and Bins

Once your shelves and bins have come to room temperature, wash the bins with a mild cleanser, warm water and a sponge, or in the dishwasher. If you’re not sure whether your shelves or drawers are dishwasher safe, consult your use and care guide. 

IMPORTANT: Do not clean glass shelves or covers with warm water when they are cold. Shelves and covers may break if exposed to sudden temperature changes or impact, such as bumping. If tempered glass breaks, it is designed to shatter into many small, pebble-sized pieces.

  • Glass shelves and bins are generally dishwasher safe, but hand washing with a mixture of mild dish soap and water is primarily recommended. If using a dishwasher, place shelves and bins on the top rack. Make sure the shelves and bins have come to room temperature before placing them in the dishwasher to avoid cracking and breaking.

NOTE: Refrigerator shelves with under-shelf, LED lighting are NOT dishwasher safe.

5. Hand Wash Interior Surfaces and Removable Parts

Spray the interior of the fridge, including the walls, door and permanent shelves. Any grime or spills that have gotten stuck can be scrubbed with a toothbrush. 

  • Use a clean sponge or soft cloth and a mild detergent or other non-abrasive cleaner in warm water.

  • Affresh® cleaners may also be used and are available online and at many retailers. Find out where to buy affresh® products near you.

  • You can also use white vinegar or a mix of hot water and baking soda if you prefer not to use chemicals.

6. Wipe Down the Exterior of the Refrigerator

Once you’ve finished cleaning, wipe the interior completely dry with a clean towel. After the removable parts have been dried, you can place them back into the fridge.

 7. Plug in the Refrigerator

After the interior and shelves have been cleaned and dried, plug the refrigerator back in or switch on at the breaker box. Give the refrigerator 24 hours to come to the proper temperature before placing items inside. Wipe food containers and jars with warm water and soap before placing them back in the fridge.

Person removing refrigerator door bin

How to Clean the Drawer and Shelf Channels Inside Your Refrigerator

Spillovers inside the refrigerator may get into the slide control of the crisper bins or shelves and cause them to stick. If the spillover is heavy, it may be necessary to use a soft cloth and a mild dish soap to clean the frame. To clean drawer or shelf channels:

1. Use Warm, Soapy Water and a Soft Cloth or Sponge

Warm water will help soften any grime, but for stubborn stains use a paste of baking soda and water and let rest for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove again.   

 

2. Thoroughly Rinse the Channels

You’ll want to remove all soapy residue before drying.  

 

3. Completely Dry with a Soft Microfiber Cloth

Using a clean microfiber cloth, dry the channels thoroughly.

 

If you would like to download or view product literature for your KitchenAid® appliance, please visit our Manuals and Literature page.

Woman taking food out of an open French door refrigerator

How to Clean a Refrigerator that Smells

Cleaning your refrigerator regularly is one of the most effective ways to help prevent odors. Follow the steps below to clean a refrigerator that smells:

1. Keep Foods Tightly Wrapped or Covered

Reduce the chances of spills or odors by making sure to wrap any leftover food tightly or keep it in storage containers. 

 

2. Immediately Wipe Spills

The longer a spill sits, the harder it’ll be to clean it up. Clean up any messes as soon as they happen.

 

3. Clean Both Sections Around Once a Month

Keeping your fridge clean by doing routine maintenance once a month can help prevent odors as well as grime build up. The exact time will vary based on what kinds of foods you store as well as how you store them.

 

4. Keep the Refrigerator and Freezer Organized

An organized refrigerator will help ensure that food is visible so that leftovers aren’t forgotten and spoil in the back of the fridge.

 

5. Discard Spoiled or Rotten Food

Avoid letting food sit in the fridge for long periods of time to prevent spoilage, but if you notice that any produce or other food items have spoiled, discard them immediately.

 

Learn how to remove stubborn odors from your refrigerator.

KitchenAid® French Door Refrigerator in a white kitchen

Benefits of Maintaining a Clean Fridge

Both the refrigerator and freezer sections automatically defrost. Air circulates between both sections, so any odors formed in one section will transfer to the other. You must thoroughly clean both sections to help reduce odors. In addition to cleaning the inside of your fridge, it’s important to clean up the outside as well. For more information, check out our guide on how to clean fridge exteriors.

Can I Use Vinegar to Clean My Fridge?

White vinegar is an all-natural way of cleaning your fridge that can help break down grease and stubborn grime. Using a mix of water and vinegar is a perfectly safe and effective way to clean your fridge.

Can I Use Baking Soda to Clean My Fridge?

Yes! Baking soda is also great for getting rid of odors from the interior of the fridge as well as helping remove stubborn messes inside. Note that baking soda should not be used on the exterior of stainless steel refrigerators.

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