How To Clean Out Your Refrigerator the Right Way

After the holidays, our refrigerator becomes a vast wasteland of lingering leftovers. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if that container of mashed potatoes are left over from Christmas or Thanksgiving. Either way—yuck.


I make a habit every year on the Saturday after New Year’s Day to clean out my refrigerator completely, and I follow an easy routine that you can easily replicate. You need a few essential items to clean out your refrigerator, and these guidelines to make this process quick, painless, and odor-free.

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  • Small broom or brush
  • Mild soap and water
  • Odor-neutralizing trash bags
  • Kitchen surface cleaning spray
  • Damp and dry cloths
  • An old toothbrush
  • 1 box of baking soda


Step 1: First, make sure your refrigerator is unplugged. 

Step 2: With a small broom or brush, dust off or wipe the kickplate underneath the bottom of the refrigerator.  On some refrigerators, the kickplate can be removed easily and washed with mild soap and water.

Step 3: Next, toss everything that has expired or looks mysterious.

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Step 4: Next, remove the produce and cheese drawers and shelves and wash with warm soapy water.  Air-dry or wipe clean with a towel.

Step 5: Use a kitchen surface cleaning spray on the shelves and walls. 

Step 6: Use a small brush toothbrush on those hard-to-reach areas and door seals.  Wipe clean with a damp cloth and let air-dry.

Step 7: Return all drawers and shelves to their place.  Return food to the refrigerator. To avoid future leaks, wipe jars or containers clean that might have drips on the lid.

Step 8: Don’t forget to include an open box of baking soda to absorb future odors. 

Step 9: Plug the refrigerator back in and discard all garbage.

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