As professional home cleaners in London, we’ve seen it all — overflowing cupboards, greasy cookers, and, yes, even the occasional fridge horror story! That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate fridge cleaning guide!
It will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to tackle a dirty and smelly refrigerator, eliminate unpleasant odours that might not be food-related, and even address common problems that could be hindering its performance. Let’s jump into the world of fridge freshness!

Read also: Why DIY Oven Cleaning Hacks Rarely Work (and What to Do Instead for a Sparkling Oven)

Take advantage of the fridge cleaning to throw away any expired food.

Fridge Cleaning: Conquering the Clutter, Stains, and Dirt

With summer upon us, keeping your fridge clean and well-functioning becomes crucial. We store more food during the warmer months, from barbeque leftovers to refreshing salads, and a clean, well-maintained fridge ensures everything stays delicious and safe to consume. Here’s what to do to sanitise and freshen up your fridge step-by-step:

1. The Great Food Eviction

Before tackling the nooks and crannies, it’s time for a complete fridge inventory. Grab a basket or two and remove everything – yes, everything! This is your chance to identify expired items (guilty of forgetting that jar of mystery chutney in the back?), conduct a food safety check (goodbye, wilted lettuce!), and mentally note what needs restocking.

2. Sorting and Storing

While the fridge is bare, sort through your food and discard anything past its prime. Place leftovers in airtight containers to prevent them from drying out or tainting other items. Group similar items together: fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawers, dairy products on higher shelves, and meats at the bottom (to prevent any drips from contaminating other items).

Check also: A Professional Cleaner’s Guide to a Spotless Extractor Hood

If you have to use bleach or other strong cleaners when cleaning a particularly dirty fridge, wear gloves to protect your hands. Image by yanalya on Freepik

3. Deep Fridge Cleaning

Now comes the fun part (well, almost!). Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two buckets (one for soapy water, one for rinsing)
  • Microfibre cloths, scrubbing sponges
  • Rubber gloves
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar (optional)
  • Spray bottle
  • Dish soap
  • Bleach (for the really messy situations)

First things first

Remove all shelves and drawers. Most fridge components are removable for a thorough cleaning. Wash them in warm, soapy water in your sink or the shower.

Pro tip: Avoid boiling hot water, which can warp some plastics.

For the fridge interior

Mix a solution of warm water and liquid dish soap in one bucket. Dip your microfibre cloth, wring it out well to avoid dripping, and wipe down all surfaces, including shelves, door shelves, walls, and the rubber door gasket (a breeding ground for bacteria!).

Tackling sticky stains

Baking soda is your secret weapon against stubborn grime. Apply baking soda and water paste to any sticky areas. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then scrub gently with a damp microfibre cloth.

Some types of food like fresh produce are in direct contact with the shelves. That’s why it’s so important to sanitise the fridge interior. Pic: Vadim Vasenin Deposit photos

Dealing with mouldy patches

Use equal parts white vinegar and water solution on mouldy spots, gaskets, corners, or drip pan. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.

Deep fridge sanitisation

Power cut while you were on vacation, and now your fridge is filled with spoiled food and rancid or rotten smell? We’ve been there! Everything will be okay, but the fridge needs sanitisation beyond dish soap and baking soda. Mix 1 litre of water with 4 tbsp bleach and wipe every part of the interior. Use gloves when doing this.

Side note from our experienced end of tenancy cleaners who regulalry deal with deep fridge cleaning: If you plan to use any other cleaning products to clean your fridge right after you clean it with bleach, make sure they don’t contain ammonia.

Rinse and Dry

Once you’ve finished cleaning the interior, empty the soapy water bucket and rinse everything down with clean water. Use a fresh microfibre cloth to wipe away any remaining moisture.  Leaving surfaces damp can lead to mould growth.

Read also: 4 Easy Steps to an Impeccably Clean Washing Machine

With glass cleaner, you can easily remove fingerprints and smears from the fridge door.

Exterior Fridge Cleaning

The fridge’s exterior also deserves some TLC:

  • Wipe down the surface: Use a damp microfiber cloth to remove dust, fingerprints, and splashes. For stubborn stains, a diluted vinegar solution often works wonders.
  • Tackling greasy splashes: If your fridge is near a cooker, you might find oil or food splashes on the outside. Baking soda paste, oven degreaser, or a solution of warm water with a few drops of dish soap can help remove these sticky messes.

Bonus Tip: Removing Children’s Art

We understand that little hands sometimes have a way of “decorating” appliances with stickers; some leave stubborn, sticky, adhesive residues. Here’s how to remove them without damaging the fridge surface:

  • Heat it: A hairdryer set on low heat can loosen the adhesive on the sticker. Hold the hairdryer a few inches from the sticker and slowly peel off as the adhesive softens. Be careful not to overheat the surface, especially with stainless steel fridges.
  • Treatment with oil: A little vegetable oil can go a long way. Apply a small amount to the edges of the sticker and leave it for a few minutes. The oil will help loosen the adhesive, allowing you to peel it off gently. Afterwards, clean the area with soapy water.
  • The dental floss trick: Slide dental floss underneath the edge of the sticker and gently glide it back and forth. It can be a slow process, but it’s effective for removing stubborn stickers without leaving marks.

While these methods work well for existing artwork, a little prevention goes a long way. Consider using designated sticker areas on the fridge, like a small whiteboard section, to channel your little artist’s creativity.

Check also: Deep Cleaning vs Regular Home Cleaning: What You’re Actually Missing

A foul smell of spoiled food is a good reason to clean your fridge during the summer. Image by bearfotos on Freepik

Dealing with Fridge Funk

Here are the most common sources of foul odours in your fridge and how to deal with them:

  • Expired food: This is the most likely culprit. Double-check for forgotten food items, especially behind condiments and crisper drawers.
  • Spoiled spills: Clean up any spills promptly to prevent odours and stains.
  • Strong-smelling foods: Wrap pungent foods like onions, cheese, and fish in airtight containers to neutralise them. Consider using baking soda as a natural odour absorber in a small open container.

Freshening Up: Beyond the Baking Soda

While baking soda does wonders for most odours, there are instances where it might not be enough. Here are some additional options:

  • Coffee grounds: Place a small bowl of fresh coffee grounds in your fridge to absorb strong-smelling odours like fish or garlic. Discard and replace when the coffee grounds lose their potency.
  • Lemon halves: Cut a lemon in half and place it on a shelf. The citric acid helps neutralise odours and leaves a pleasant, fresh scent. Replace the lemon halves every few days.

If your fridge smells like nail polish, you might have to call an appliance repair service.

The Mystery Stench

Sometimes, the culprit behind a smelly fridge isn’t a cleaning issue. Here are some additional tips to keep odours at bay: Here are some common culprits:

  • Overflowing drip pan: the drip pan that collects condensation can start smelling mouldy or musky over time. Check your manual for its location and clean it regularly.
  • Freon leak: If the interior of your appliance reeks of acetone or nail polish, you are most probably facing a more severe issue. Contact a qualified appliance repair technician immediately if you suspect a Freon leak. Freon is a refrigerant gas that can be toxic if inhaled.

Read also: 5 Things We Often Forget When Cleaning Our Home

Keeping fish and poultry in an open container is a recipe for stinky fridge. Image by freepik

Maintaining Fridge Freshness: A Long-Term Strategy

Now that your fridge is sparkling clean and odour-free, here are some habits to keep it that way:

  • Don’t let spills become breeding grounds for bacteria and odours. Address them as soon as they happen.
  • Use airtight containers for leftovers and strong-smelling foods. Wrap fruits and vegetables in breathable storage bags.
  • Schedule a quick fridge inspection every week. Identify and discard expired food before it becomes a source of odours or potential foodborne illnesses.
  • Aim for a thorough fridge clean every 3 months or more often if needed. Deep cleaning ensures a hygienic environment for your food and keeps your fridge functioning optimally.

The Happy House Cleaning: Professional Expertise for Long-Lasting Freshness

Don’t have the time to clean? We can help! Our experienced domestic cleaners in London can do much more than tackle dirty appliances! Call us for a one-off cleanup or regular home cleaning. Let us take care of the cleaning so you can enjoy the summer with your family!