Person removing ingredients from the refrigerator

How to clean your refrigerator in 4 simple steps

Cleaning the inside of your refrigerator isn’t fun, but it is essential. Wiping down shelves, drawers and interior walls can help eliminate fridge odors and stains. It also helps clear away mold spores or bacteria that can spoil food. 

Not sure how to get started? Our guide gives you practical tips on how to clean a fridge and keep it in better shape between cleanings.

How often should you clean your fridge? 

It is recommended you clean and maintain your fridge every three months. Cleaning your refrigerator quarterly will help keep it organized and make better use of storage space.

Open and empty refrigerator Open and empty refrigerator

What to use to clean a fridge 

There are a variety of household cleaning products that you can use to help refresh your refrigerator, including dishwashing soap, warm water and a vinegar solution. Be sure to check your owner's manual for any cleaning instructions to avoid using products that may harm your fridge.


The acidity of vinegar can soften food and grease build-up, which helps you clean up spills. Vinegar is especially useful on spills that have gone unnoticed and are stuck to the walls and shelves of the fridge. As far as how to clean a refrigerator with vinegar, mix up a 1:1 solution of vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle, apply it to spills and thoroughly wipe with a clean cloth.

Baking soda

Cleaning a fridge with baking soda mixed with water helps clean the inside walls of your refrigerator without leaving behind scents from chemical-based cleaners. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda and one cup of hot water to wipe down the inside of your refrigerator. This is especially important when you’re cleaning an area that comes into contact with your food. When it comes to the more challenging crevices, cracks, hinges and hardware in your fridge, a toothbrush should do the trick to help remove build-up.

Hot soapy water

Removable items in your refrigerator—such as shelving or drawers—can be cleaned with hot, soapy water. After you have thoroughly cleaned these pieces, make sure they are completely dry before putting them back in your fridge.

Tip: Avoid bleach

Is it safe to clean a refrigerator with bleach? Unfortunately, this is not a recommended cleaning solution for refrigerators. Not only can it harm materials in the fridge, but you also risk contaminating your food. When it comes to your fridge, avoid using abrasive cleaning tools, harsh cleansers, flammable fluids, bleaches or cleansers containing petroleum products.

Refrigerator with drawers and doors open, full of food and condiments Refrigerator with drawers and doors open, full of food and condiments

The best way to clean a refrigerator: step-by-step instructions

Fridge cleaning is essential for your family and your food. This simple guide will teach you how to deep clean a fridge as well as how to remove stains from inside the refrigerator. This is a process that should be performed seasonally for optimal refrigerator maintenance and refrigerator organization. Another tip is to clean your refrigerator before you go shopping when there are fewer groceries in your fridge. 

  • Dish soap

  • Hot water

  • Baking soda

  • Clean towels

  • Vacuum

  • Long soft-bristled brush
Pair of hands removing a refrigerator shelf

1) Remove food, shelves and drawers from the fridge

When you start deep cleaning the inside of your refrigerator, turn off the power via the electrical panel or by unplugging your appliance. Next, remove all of the food from your refrigerator and freezer, placing it in coolers so everything is safely stored. Use this opportunity to throw away any spoiled or expired food. Don’t let food sit outside the fridge for more than two hours, to help avoid spoilage.


After fully emptying the food from your refrigerator, take out shelves, drawers and any other removable items and set them aside to clean later. Let your refrigerator drawers and shelves warm to room temperature before washing.

Empty, open refrigerator

2) Deep clean the inside of the refrigerator

Thoroughly wipe down the walls, ceiling and bottom of your refrigerator with a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Get into the corners with a clean sponge or cloth. Rinse it with a soft, damp cloth. You can use vinegar or baking soda on tougher to remove spills and stains.


Do the same with the drawers and shelves and clean them in the sink with hot soapy water. Dry all surfaces completely before reinstalling the shelves and drawers, and putting the food back into place. If you have lingering odors even after a thorough cleaning, read this article about getting rid of smells in a fridge

View of the bottom freezer drawer of a refrigerator

3) Clean underneath the fridge

Cleaning the condenser coils regularly can help regulate your fridge’s temperature and help prevent food from freezing in your fridge. If accessible, coils can be located either underneath the refrigerator or in the back. Using a vacuum and a long soft-bristled brush, gently sweep your refrigerator to clean the condenser coils.

Hand wiping a stainless steel surface

4) Wipe the outside of the fridge

After you clean the inside of your fridge, take a few moments to clean the door seals, doors and handles with a mix of mild dish soap and water. Then, dry everything thoroughly—especially the door seals. If you have a stainless steel refrigerator, clean the doors with a specially formulated stainless steel cleaner to avoid streaks or residue.

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How to clean mold from a fridge

You can try and tackle mold and mildew with vinegar which is commonly used in these scenarios. Take out any removable shelves or drawers from your fridge to gain better access to the interior. Spray undiluted vinegar directly on the area you want to clean. Wipe every corner and crevice with a damp cloth to thoroughly get rid of the mold and dry all surfaces with a towel. Be sure to clean the cloth with hot water and detergent before using it again. Also, while you have the shelves and drawers removed, take the time to thoroughly clean and dry them before replacing them.

How to remove stains from inside a fridge

White vinegar diluted with warm water helps remove many yellow stains and spills in your refrigerator. Vinegar’s acidity can break down a stain and help remove grease and grime buildups. Be sure to wipe your fridge clean with a damp cloth and dry all cleaned surfaces with a towel.

Shop Whirlpool® Refrigerators

Whirlpool brand has a refrigerator for every home, whether you prefer French door, side-by-side, bottom freezer or top freezer designs. Features like Spillproof Glass Shelves and fingerprint resistant finish on select models make Whirlpool® Refrigerators convenient to clean when it’s time to tackle leftover spills and your family’s fingerprints.

Learn more about caring for your refrigerator

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1. affresh® brand products and the recommending brands’ products are all owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.