How to Clean Out and Sanitize a Fridge

Ever gone through your fridge, come across something, and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is "What is that?"? That's a clear sign that it is time to clean out the fridge.

Steps to Making Your Fridge Sparkle and Sanitary

Sounds scary or at least a bit intimidating, but as long as you have a nose prepared for some interesting, not so pleasant smells and are ready to wash a few extra dishes, cleaning out the fridge and sanitizing everything to boot is pretty easy.

Shut off the power to the fridge; no sense in keeping it on since the door is going to stay open. Start going through the items in the fridge one by one. Put aside food items you deem worthy of keeping. Throw away any items that are expired, smell bad, or are unrecognizable. If you have any doubt about an item, throw it out. Wipe down any jars or bottles that are sticky. Keep up this process until every item is removed from the fridge including items in the pantries and drawers.

Take out anything pieces of the fridge that can be removed and wash them out using warm water and soap. This includes drawers and removable shelves. Wiping out everything is not enough; food has a tendency of getting underneath and in cracks.

Wipe up the bottom of the fridge where water and other junk has collected.

Make up a solution of three parts water to one part vinegar and put it in an empty spray bottle. Vinegar is completely safe if it gets inside food. It's also completely harmless to children and will completely sanitize your fridge and make it smell fresh. If you cannot make such a solution, you can use any household cleaner that sanitizes and is okay for use in the kitchen. Spray and wipe down your entire fridge including the inside and outside walls, ceiling, and shelves. Replace the drawers and other items you took out and washed.

Shut the fridge door and turn it back on. Place all of the good items back on the shelves in an orderly, easy to find manner.

Things You Will Need

  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towels


  • Either flush spoiled food down the toilet or throw it in the outside trash as soon as you are done cleaning your fridge. You don't want the smell to linger in your house or other thrown away food to start smelling.
  • Clean out your entire fridge at one time and take as little time as possible, preferable less than an hour. You have food out that will spoil if not placed back inside.
  • Your fridge should undergo a through cleaning as described at least once or twice a year.
  • A good time to tackle the fridge is right after the holiday meal to make room to put away all the extra holiday food.


  • You'll be tempted to, but do not eat or put back any food that is expired. Saving a little extra food or money is not worth possible food poisoning.