How to Remove Mildew from Your Refrigerator, and Get it Deep Cleaned

Mildew can be a dangerous thing. Not all mildew is deadly, but some of it is. If you have mildew in your fridge or freezer, then it could be time to replace all the food. The only time I have had mildew problems, was when I shut down my fridge.

When you freeze food, it only slows down the bacteria, not stopping it completely. So the mildew that was in my fridge probably had been there, then grew and spread because of the temperature change.

I know another situation that can cause mildew, is a broken seal around the door somewhere. My neighbors fridge had mildew growing in the bottom, and the door would not seal down there.

I cleaned out the mildew in my neighbors fridge, and I have also cleaned out a couple of mine. Sometimes a fridge or freezer needs to get a cleaning anyway. In this article I will explain my way of cleaning out a fridge or freezer. I explain two methods, taking the fridge outside and keeping it in place.

If you only have a little bit of mildew, say under the drawer or panels, then it would be a good idea to clean the entire unit. Still, just cleaning the infected area is better then doing nothing.

Step one, prepping the fridge.

The first thing is to get all the contents out of the fridge, and either throw it away, eat it, or store it. I will leave the judgment to you. But I advise getting rid of anything that was near the mildew, and even getting rid of everything. If your unit has racks or drawers, then take those out also. The drawers will get cleaned separately.

Next is to get the fridge outside, I usually wash them out with running water. You of course want to unhook it from the power. It is a good idea to unhook it even if you plan to clean it inside.

If you plan on cleaning the fridge where it stands now, then the next step would be to lay towels at the base. The idea here is to catch all cleaner and water, and prevent it from touching the floor. I am not talking about paper towels, but cloth bath towels. And enough cloth to prevent any liquid from damaging the floor. The racks and drawers can be taken outside, or if they are small enough, cleaned in your dish sink.

Step two, apply the cleaning chemical.

I prefer to use something that has some bleach, like Clorox clean up. But some kind of cleaning soap should be safer. The idea here is to apply the soap or Clorox over all of the surface inside the fridge or freezer. You want to get every square inch. If you are cleaning this inside, please make sure you are ventilated. When cleaning inside, be easy on the cleaning agent. That is because we are using rags to catch the over flow. Try to have no over flow when working inside.

Make sure you read the instructions on the chemical you use. You do not want to use a chemical that will harm your fridge and also your health. Each chemical is different, and some of them can only be used on certain kinds of materials. Also to note, one Clorox cleanup can be different from another Clorox cleanup. Check the label and read all instructions and warnings.

My method for covering every square inch is to spray or apply an area, and then smear the cleaner around with a rag. What we are doing, is making the cleaner do the hard work for us. With the cleaner applied, we just let it sit for a little bit. If you are using a cleaner that dries quickly, then you might want to cover a little area at a time. For example, getting the left side, rinse, then getting the right side, and so on.

After letting our chemical soak on the surface, we then take a rag and scrub it. We are now breaking loose all dirt and mildew that is on the surface. Because we let our chemical soak, it is easier to scrub the fridge. You do not have to use a rag, what ever it is you like to clean with. I have found rags to be best for most jobs, but a scrub brush on objects that have sharp edges.

Step three should follow immediately after step two. Unless your chemicals has a requirement for it to dry, you want to prevent it from drying. It can be harder to clean a fridge when the cleaning agent has dried.

The racks or drawers:

You want to cover every square inch on the racks. Metal racks can be sprayed with a bottle, like a Clorox clean up bottle. You also can put them in standing water, like in a sink or tub. Make sure the material is safe with your cleaner.

Step three, rinsing it all down.

Outside situation:

If the fridge is outside, then get the water hose and rinse out the fridge. Go from the top down, making sure that all the cleaning agent gets washed out. In this stage, you might discover some areas that need to be improved on. If so, get your cleaning agent and clean that spot. Beware of stains, sometimes they can be impossible to remove.

After rinsing with the water hose, it is a good idea to dry with rags. Sometimes that is not available or desired, sun dried should be OK. But using towels/rags would make the drying process quicker.

Inside situation:

You might be wondering how you will rinse out the fridge when it is inside. In this situation you will not be using a water hose. What you will need is a spray bottle. You want a clean spray bottle, that you can put clean water in. When I mean clean, I am talking about nothing but water, nothing like soap or Clorox in it.

With the spray bottle, spray the water from top down. You want to get all the cleaning agent rinsed off. You can take clean rags/towels, spray some water, and then wipe it clean. Basically you want to remove all the soap or Clorox.

One method for keeping things dry, is to use a towel/rag to wipe up all the cleaning agent. Then use the spray bottle to rinse. If you use a rag/towel again, make sure it is a dry and clean one.

You want to be sure to get all the chemical you are using out. Clorox can hurt you, and so can ordinary soap. Remember your fridge is where your food is being stored.

The racks or drawers:

The same thing applies to the racks and drawers. You want to completely rinse off all the cleaner. For metal racks, dipping them in clean water a few times might do the trick.

Step four, putting it back together.

Is the job done? Has all the water dried up, and all the cleaner been rinsed out? Is the surface clean with out any spots. Remember we are cleaning out mildew, so even a small spot of mildew will undo all the hard work. When using cleaners like Clorox, it will kill mildew, but you have to get all of it out.

A little note, if the fridge was moved, then now is a good time to clean where it was sitting. Mopping the floor, or vacuum to make everything nice and clean.

If every thing is dry, and all the mildew and other things are out, then it is time to put the fridge back. If it was not removed, then it is already in place. If you had to take out drawers or racks, then now is a good time to put them back. After they have been cleaned of course. After it is dry, placed and assembled. Then you can restock the fridge and hook the power back up.

Done with it for now.

It is not to hard to clean out one of these units. It can take some patience, rushing this kind of job can give unfinished results.

I like to stop and take a look at the finished work. When it has all dried and is freshly clean. Those units with white interiors will shine brightly. It will look almost like it was just brought home from a warehouse store. Well worth the time. I know I feel better about my fridge knowing it has been deep cleaned.

You should not only have gotten the mildew cleaned out, but anything else that could have been growing also. I try to avoid shutting down my fridge, even though it has nothing in it. The reason is the mildew seems to explode inside when I do. I would not consume food out of a can if it was inside a mildewed fridge.

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