Extending the life of your refrigerator

The proper way everyone should clean out their refrigerator and why it’s so important.

EMR techs share tips on how to properly clean out your refrigerator and extend its life.

A neglected and dirty fridge can cost you more in energy bills and cause food to spoil faster. At EMR, we service commercial kitchen refrigeration units, and many of the same principles apply to the residential refrigerators in your home as well. It’s recommended you clean your fridge monthly, but we are here to share some tips for cleaning every three and six months as well, to maintain its life, and ensure it stays fresh, and germ and mold free.

Every month/regular basis:

  • Always start by unplugging your refrigerator and moving your food to a cooler.
  • Wash your shelves and drawers in lukewarm water and mild detergent like dish soap.
    • For stubborn odors, rinse with one quart water and two tablespoons baking soda.
    • For stubborn stains, use a damp sponge and whitening toothpaste.
  • The ice dispenser drawer can also harbor mold and yeast. To clean, turn the ice-maker off, remove the bin and discard the ice. Using lukewarm water and a mild dish detergent, wash the bin, rinse and dry. You can also substitute distilled white vinegar for dish detergent. If you see abnormal frost or ice formations, be sure take a picture beforehand in case you must place a service call to a qualified residential service agency.
  • It’s wise to have a second thermometer in your fridge to ensure you have good air circulation and the food is at a safe temperature. Your fridge should maintain between 34 – 40 degrees. 
  • Placing an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator and freezer will neutralize acidic odorous air molecules and prolong the life of your refrigerator. Acidic air molecules can eventually cause refrigerant leaks.

Every 3 Months:

  • Clean the drip pan (located in the bottom of the refrigerator) to eliminate bacteria and potential mold growth. Remove the kick panel and, using a flashlight, find where the defrost drain line empties into the pan. Gently pull the pan out, as it may be full of water. Empty the pan and clean it using an all-purpose cleaner or dish soap and water, and replace.
  • Check your gasket/seal and clean with a mild detergent like dish soap. Also make sure it’s sealed tight to save energy. To test it, shut the door on a dollar bill and if it slides it’s not tight enough.

Every 6 Months:

  • Clean your condenser coils, which are what makes refrigeration possible. Coils that are caked with dust reduce efficiency, raise energy bills and wear out the compressor more quickly. Depending on the location of the coils, either pull the fridge away from the wall or remove the snap-off grill at the bottom to reveal the coils. Using a long-handled brush, clean the coils. Vacuum the debris.
  • Maintenance of the condenser fan will also increase the efficiency and life of your fridge. Consult the owner’s manual to locate the condenser fan. Pet hair can clog the vent causing the refrigerator compressor to overheat. Using a soft brush, remove dust, dirt and pet hair. Vacuum the area.
  • Test the light button to make sure it turns off when the doors are closed. The light bulb staying on will run up the electric bill and heat up your fridge. Always replace with an appliance bulb. Regular bulbs will not hold up to the temperatures and humidity and could shatter.