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Cleaning And Defrosting Your Ref Regularly Can Help Lower Your Electricity Bill

Here's how to clean and defrost your refrigerator to help you decrease your energy consumption

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Photography: Michael Angelo Chua (Main Photo)

All the magnets in the world can’t camouflage yellowing refrigerator doors. And 10 six-packs of beer won’t cover gunk on the refrigerator shelves. What you really have to do is clean and defrost your ref once a week. Defrosting your ref will make it work more efficiently, as frost buildup can make your coils work overtime, increasing your energy consumption.


Here’s how to do it:

1. Schedule your cleaning for when the fridge is almost empty. Before doing anything, unplug the appliance.

2. Throw out all food items that are moldy or stinking. To keep frozen food from thawing completely, put them in covered cardboard boxes.

READ: Keep Food Fresher For Longer With These Fridge Organizing Tips

3. Submerge drawers and shelves in a tub of warm, soapy water. Hot water can make still-cold glass parts crack.

4. Start cleaning: Working from top to bottom, clean with a solution of one quart water mixed with two tablespoons baking soda. Or use 1/2 cup white vinegar in 1/2 gallon water. Go for a soft scrubbing sponge so you won’t scratch surfaces. Don’t splash liquid on wires and light bulbs.

READ: 6 Ways To Clean The House Using Baking Soda

5. Rub away sticky spots with dry baking soda. Don’t neglect the gaskets, and the rubber lining on your fridge door. Disinfect moldy areas with three-fourths cup of bleach to one gallon of water.

6. In the freezer, don’t jab at the hard ice with a knife or ice pick. Instead, put a pan of hot water inside your freezer to start the thawing.


7. Wipe down with wet rags, then dry with another set of clean rags. Lemon essential oil added to your rinse water will leave the ref with a fresh scent. Wipe glycerin (you can buy this at drugstores) on the shelves to give a protective coating against spills and mold.

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8. Don’t spray the inside of a funky-smelling ref with an air freshener. Leave inside a piece of cotton doused with vanilla extract, or a bowl of charcoal or fresh coffee grounds.

9.  Keep the outside of your ref from yellowing by washing it with a mixture of 8 cups water, ½ cup bleach, and ½ baking soda. Clean the fridge top with a mixture of ½ cup water and ¼ cup fabric softener. The fabric softener will repel the dust.

10. Don’t forget the condenser coils—those oval-shaped pipes found side by side below or behind your ref. Brush away the lint and dust every other month. This will keep your fridge from using more electricity than it should.

This article originally appeared in the November-December 2003 issue of Real Living magazine. 

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