This is a maintenance step that shouldn’t take place only after you’ve decided to clean your refrigerator; it should happen all the time. Whether it occurs when you're unpacking groceries or reaching for the milk carton, if a spill happens, wipe it up. The moisture and cold temperature of your refrigerator only make it more difficult to clean up stains or spills the longer they sit, so be diligent and clean it up immediately.
The first step of a big clean is to take inventory of all of your perishable food items. Examine produce for any signs of rotting and check all expiration dates on condiments and packages. Throw out anything that’s past its prime and leave anything you plan on keeping in a cool, shaded space while you clean the rest of your refrigerator.
When you’re ready to start cleaning, unplug your refrigerator so that it’s no longer running. This not only allows the refrigerator to take a well-deserved break, but it brings it up to room temperature for easy cleaning, and allows you to vacuum it and wipe it down without putting you at any electrical risks.
Using a mild dishwasher detergent and hot water, wipe down the outside and seals of your refrigerator, which can become victim to spills, dust, and crumbs. If your refrigerator is a stainless steel model, use a stainless steel cleaning solution instead for best results.
The first step to cleaning the interior of your refrigerator is removing all of its shelves and drawers. Let them rest out on a counter so that they can come to room temperature before you soak them in a cleaning solution. If they’re too cold when they’re soaked in hot water, they could be subject to cracks or breaks.
Although dishwasher detergent is needed to get the job done on the exterior of your refrigerator and in those hard-to-reach seals, you’ll want a milder cleaning solution for the inside so that your food doesn’t absorb the harsh, soapy cleaning odor of a detergent. The best solution to use is a little baking soda mixed with warm water. Use a clean rag to wipe down the walls and ceiling of the refrigerator with the solution, and let any tougher spots soak in it for a little before giving them a good scrub. When you’re finished, rinse everything with regular water and dry well with a towel.
If your sink is big enough to allow it, the best way to clean all of your removable parts is to soak them in a baking soda and a warm water solution for 15 to 20 minutes before you rinse them clean. Make sure they’re as dry as possible before placing them back into your refrigerator.
Now that your refrigerator looks brand-spanking-new because it’s so clean, you’re ready to restock it. Organize your fridge using the FIFO method (first-in-first-out): place any food items that are approaching their expiration date within easy reach so that you use them first. Make sure all containers and bottles are secured tightly so that they don’t release any odors, and place an open box of baking soda in the back of the fridge so that it keeps your refrigerator smelling fresh and clean.