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Short Answer: Yes! You should clean the back of your refrigerator.

Long answer: You should clean the back of your refrigerator AND underneath it, too at least once a year. This maintenance chore will do more than any other to extend the life of your refrigerator and keep it operating efficiently all year.

Cleaning the Back of Your Refrigerator:

The Prep:

First, find another place to keep your ice cream cold before you start! This task will take at least a half an hour to complete, plus the time it takes for your fridge and freezer to get back to an appropriate temperature (about 15 minutes). Since you’ve gone this far, you might consider giving the inside a wipe down too; that should only take an extra 5 minutes.

Second, you have to unplug it; this will save you from electrical shock. To do that, turn the refrigerator and freezer off, and then move the unit away from the wall.

Tip: Enlist the help of a friend. It’s not easy to move a refrigerator!  

Third, clean the wall behind the refrigerator. Hold off on cleaning the floor for now; you’re about to make a mess on it.

The Cleaning:

  1. Shine a flashlight under or on the back of the unit, and find the condenser coils, which keep your refrigerator operating efficiently. You’ll also find plenty of dirt and dust.
  2. Pull the drip pan out from under the refrigerator and empty it. Soak it in warm, sudsy water in the sink while you tend to the rest of the job.
  3. To clean the coils, remove the cover panel and gently vacuum it. It might simply lift off, but you might have to unscrew it.
  4. Use a soft broom to sweep away lint and loose dirt from the coils. You’ll probably need to lie on your back to do this. You might want to invest in a long-handled refrigerator brush for best results.
  5. Vacuum the coils with a long-narrow vacuum attachment. Vacuum the floor where the dirt has fallen.
  6. Return the clean drip pan and screw the cover panel back onto the refrigerator.

Tip: Before you push the unit back into place, clean all of the hard-to-reach exterior surfaces on the refrigerator and also on any abutting cabinets.

When all is said and done, plug the refrigerator back in and return it to its usual spot. Turn on the refrigerator and freezer. It should be cold within about 15 minutes.

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