Cleaning and Prepping Your Fridge for the Holidays

By Lyle Weischwill | Sep. 28, 2023 3:47 am PST

Image of woman cleaning the fridge for the holidays

With the holidays right around the corner, you’ll need to prepare – starting with your fridge. The last thing that you want is for Aunt Marge to find moldy peach preserves in the door bin.

Throwing out all of the old, expired foods is just one of the first steps for getting your refrigerator ready for the season.

Here are additional tips and reminders to help clean and refresh your fridge for the holidays that will be here before you know it.

Make the Time to Clean

Planning is essential to cleaning the fridge without stress. A thorough fridge cleaning will often take 2 hours or so. Pick a time when you won’t be interrupted so you can keep your nose to the grindstone and get the task done – calmly and efficiently.

Gather Your Supplies

Having your supplies ready will allow you to clean the entire refrigerator seamlessly. You’ll need supplies to clean the outside cabinet and interior of the fridge. If you have a stainless steel fridge, you’ll need stainless steel cleaner to polish the cabinet.

Here’s a list of common supplies that you’ll need for the refrigerator cleaning project:

  • Cleaning bucket.
  • Cleaning cloths or dishrags.
  • Towels.
  • Dish soap.
  • Broom and dust pan.
  • Mop and bucket.
  • Refrigerator coil brush.
  • Vacuum cleaner or shop vac.
  • Petroleum jelly.

Clean the Inside of the Fridge

Follow these steps to clean the inside of your refrigerator:

  1. Store any medicine or foods that can spoil in another refrigerator or an ice chest.
  2. Unplug the refrigerator or turn it off while cleaning.
  3. Empty the ice out of the ice maker bin. The ice may melt while you clean the fridge and then refreeze into globs that won’t dispense. Clean the ice bin. The ice maker will make fresh ice after you finish cleaning the fridge. Be prepared to have less ice until the ice maker eventually fills up the ice bin.
  4. Pull all of the items out of the refrigerator compartment.
  5. Fill a bucket with one gallon of water. Warm water will work best even though the water will cool off quickly once you begin using it to wipe down interior refrigerator shelves and surfaces.
  6. Add dish soap to the gallon of water to make a soapy water solution. You can also use white vinegar instead of using dish soap.
  7. Soak a wash cloth in the bucket of cleaning solution then wring most of the cleaning solution out so the cloth stays wet but doesn’t drip. Wipe spills and residue out of the refrigerator.
  8. Wipe down the inside of the refrigerator compartment with plain water.
  9. Dry the inside of the refrigerator compartment with a towel.
  10. Put all of your items back into the fridge. Organize the items as you load them in the refrigerator.
  11. Wipe spills and deposits off the door gasket. Spread a light coat of petroleum jelly over the sealing surface of the door gasket to preserve the gasket and help is seal properly.

To help prevent odors inside your fridge, place an open box of baking soda on a shelf in the back of the fridge.

Another way to help prevent odors is to replace the air filter if your fridge has one. If you want to add an air filter to your fridge, add the Universal Air Filter to the refrigerator compartment as shown in this video:

Clean Inside the Freezer

Remove everything from the freezer compartment and clean it the same way that you cleaned inside the refrigerator section. Don’t forget to clean the freezer door gasket and coat the sealing surface with petroleum jelly. Load all of your items back in the freezer.

Clean the Condenser Coils

Dirty condenser coils can cause cooling problems in your fridge. You won’t want that happening during the holidays. Clean the condenser coils so that your refrigerator cools properly during the holiday season.

The condenser coils are located under the front of refrigerator in many models. You can typically access the condenser coil by removing the grill from the front of the refrigerator. Use a coil brush to clean the condenser coils as shown in this video:

Not all condenser coils are in the same location as the coils shown in the video. Check the owner’s manual for your fridge for instructions on cleaning the condenser coils for your model if they aren’t under the front of the refrigerator.

If you need to have a service technician clean the condenser coils in your fridge, schedule Clean & Maintain service. A Sears Technician will visit your home and clean the condenser coils and professionally check and maintain your entire refrigerator. You can have the same technician clean and maintain all of your home appliances in one visit by bundling Clean & Maintain Service. You’ll also save money by having the Sears Tech clean and maintain all the appliances during one convenient visit. That way, all of your appliances will be in top shape during the holidays.

Clean the condenser coils at least twice a year to make sure that coil stays clean for proper operation and proper temperatures in your refrigerator.

Clean Under and Behind the Fridge

If you clean the condenser coils yourself, you’ll need to vacuum, sweep and clean the floor under and behind the fridge. Even if you don’t clean the condenser coils yourself, cleaning under and behind the fridge is an essential step for getting your refrigerator ready for the holidays.

Carefully pull the refrigerator out to access the area. Use a helper if necessary. Vacuum or sweep all dust and debris from the area under and behind the fridge. Mop the floor in that area.

Clean the Refrigerator Cabinet

While you have the refrigerator pulled out from the wall, wipe all dust from the cabinet. Make sure to clean dust off all vent louvers on the front and back of the fridge so that air flows freely through those openings.

Clean the doors and sides of the fridge using a soapy water solution or follow the directions in your owner’s manual to clean the outside cabinet. If you use a soapy water solution, wipe the cabinet down with plain water and then dry it off using a towel. Polish the doors with stainless steel cleaner if you have a stainless fridge.

If your refrigerator has a water and ice dispenser, thoroughly clean the dispenser area.

Plug the refrigerator back in and carefully push it back into place. Use a helper if necessary. Turn the fridge back on if you turned it off to clean inside.

Image of tech repairing a fridge

Get your Fridge Repaired When it doesn’t Work Right

When your refrigerator isn’t cooling as it should, or the ice maker isn’t working, get it fixed by a Sears Technician. Our techs can fix virtually any brand of refrigerator, no matter where you bought it. We have access to the OEM parts needed to fix refrigerator all types of failures. Same-day and next-day service appointments are available in many areas.

If you decide that your fridge is beyond repair and needs replacing, take advantage of special offers and financing available on our Upgrade page.

Whether you need maintenance, repair or replacement of your refrigerator, Sears has the help that you need to prepare your fridge for the holidays.

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