There’s much more to cleaning your refrigerator than wiping down the shelves and throwing away old food. To clean it properly, you have to make sure you tackle those refrigerator condenser coils.
This is important for regular refrigerator maintenance and can reduce the amount of electricity it needs to run.
To help you clean your refrigerator coils, we’ve created this guide showing you all the steps as well as why it’s important to keep those condenser coils clean.
Why You Need To Clean Your Refrigerator Coils
To understand why it’s important to clean your refrigerator coils, you first need to understand how your refrigerator works.
How your refrigerator functions is based on the second law of thermodynamics: when two things of different temperatures are close together, the warmer surface cools and the colder surface warms.
This is the principle behind refrigeration, in which a gas refrigerant is pumped through the coils, absorbing heat and cooling everything inside.
When the condenser coils in your refrigerator are dirty, the refrigeration process does not work as well, meaning that it cannot cool properly and efficiently.
It basically means that the dirty coils are making the refrigerator work harder than it is designed to. It results in spoiled food, higher energy bills, and a refrigerator that is more likely to break down.
What You’ll Need To Clean Your Refrigerator Coils
Luckily, you only need a few things to clean your refrigerator coils, which can all be found around the home. You will need:
- A vacuum cleaner with a narrow nozzle attachment.
- A soft-bristled brush.
- A flashlight.
Getting To The Coils
1. Unplug your refrigerator from the wall outlet. Turn off the power and then pull out the cord. Your refrigerator will still maintain its cool temperature while you clean the coils, so you don’t need to worry about your food spoiling.
2. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall. By doing this, you’ll be able to access the coils at the back.
3. If your refrigerator's coils aren’t at the back, unclamp the bottom panel. Most modern refrigerators have the condenser coils behind a bottom panel at the front. Unsnap the panel to remove it, then put it to the side while you clean the coils.
Cleaning The Coils
1. Scrape the dirt out of the coils with a soft-bristled brush. Use the brush to remove as much dirt as you can from the condenser coils. Be sure to scrape, below, above and in-between the coils to remove the large pieces of dirt.
You can also use a flashlight to help you find the hard-to-see grime that has built up.
2. Vacuum up the remaining dirt. Use a narrow nozzle to suck up the dust and dirt easily from between the coils. Move it over the coils slowly so you can get as much as the grime as possible.
3. Continue scraping and vacuuming until all the dirt is gone. Vacuuming the first time might reveal more dirt that you missed when scraping, so use the brush to remove anything else you find.
Restarting Your Refrigerator
1. Place the bottom panel back on the refrigerator, or move it back against the wall. Hold the bottom panel up and push it back into place. It should be secure when you hear a snapping noise.
2. Plug your refrigerator back into the power outlet. Once your refrigerator is back in its original position with the bottom panel back in place, plug it back in and turn on the power.
Remember to leave a couple of inches between the coils and the wall if they’re at the back of the refrigerator so that they can operate normally.
You should be cleaning your refrigerator coils at least twice a year so that it functions properly and doesn’t use too much power.
Consider cleaning the coils more often if you have pets because pet fur can easily get caught in the coils, which can hinder the efficiency of your refrigerator.
Condenser coils release the heat from inside the refrigerator, and if they are dirty, the refrigerator will have to work harder to release that heat.
This means that your refrigerator will use more energy, resulting in higher bills and a higher chance of the refrigerator breaking down before its 12 to 14 year lifespan.
Furthermore, if the coils have accumulated a lot of dirt and they are left that way, your refrigerator might appear to be working when, in reality, it won’t be cooling the inside, meaning that anything inside it will spoil.
If you want to clean the inside of your refrigerator after you’ve cleaned the condenser coils, first fill a spray bottle with a cleaning solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of hot water.
Then apply the cleaning solution to all the interior surfaces, such as the walls, the inside of the door, and the shelves, after removing the contents. Finally, wipe the surfaces with a sponge or cloth.
Here is a list of things to avoid when cleaning your refrigerator coils:
Don’t clean the coils when your refrigerator is still plugged in.
Don’t use harsh chemicals.
Don’t use soap and water.
Don’t use bleach.
Don’t put hot shelves in the refrigerator after cleaning the coils and interior.
It’s easy to forget that you need to clean your refrigerator coils, however it is important to do so you can ensure that your refrigerator is running efficiently and continuing to cool properly.
With this guide, you’ll be able to clean your refrigerator coils the right way and prolong the life of your refrigerator.