5 expert guidelines to clean your refrigerator

July 27, 2015

A little maintenance and cleaning will help a refrigerator run smoothly and keep its contents fresh. Here are some easy jobs to do just that.

5 expert guidelines to clean your refrigerator

Cleaning the inside

  • Remove all food and place the items that must stay cool to keep from spoiling (milk and meat, for example) in a cold ice chest.
  • Unplug the unit before starting a thorough, top-to-bottom cleaning.
  • Wash all removable shelves and drawers in warm soapy water.
  • Wipe down the walls of the refrigerator with an all-purpose cleaner or a solution of water and baking soda.
  • Rinse and dry the shelves and drawers and put them back in place.
  • Once the refrigerator is clean, plug it back in.
  • Wait approximately an hour before replacing the food so the refrigerator has a chance to lower the temperature efficiently first.

Cleaning the outside

  • An all-purpose cleaner will take care of the usual fingerprints and smudges that refrigerator doors attract.
  • You will need to use a heavy-duty all-purpose cleaner to clean greasy areas, such as the top of the refrigerator. You can also use a solution made up of one part ammonia to 10 parts water. Let the solution stand a while to break down the grease, then wipe off with rags or paper towels.

Cleaning the condenser coils and drain pan

Remove buildup of dirt and lint on the compressor coils regularly because it causes a refrigerator to work too hard.

  • Before you begin, unplug the refrigerator.
  • The coils are usually located behind the bottom front grille; on older models and cycle-defrost fridges (with freezers that need to be defrosted) the coils are located at the back.
  • To get access to the coils, remove the grille by grasping it near both ends and gently pulling.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice attachment and push the tool as far under the unit as you can.
  • Try not to bend the condenser tubing or the coil fins.
  • While you have the grille off, you can take a moment and wash the drain pan. Use soapy water and sprinkle it with baking soda to keep the pan smelling fresh.

Defrosting the freezer

  • Defrost a cycle-defrost freezer when the frost is 1/2 centimetre (1⁄4 inch) thick.
  • Never use a sharp utensil to scrape the frost as it can cause serious damage.
  • Use a dull plastic scraper and don't scrape against metal parts.
  • Boil a pot of water and place it inside the freezer to speed up heating when frost is extra thick.

Inspecting the seal

Gaskets, the rubber lining that surrounds the doors and keeps the cold air inside, can become worn.

  • Check the gaskets for tightness regularly. They should fit snugly.
  • Check the door seal by closing the door on a dollar bill in several places. Look for slight resistance as you pull it out.
  • If the gasket seems loose, replace it.
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