I have never cleaned refrigerator coils. It’s one of those get-to projects that you never think about because it’s not staring you right in the face like, say, the dishes or the laundry. But now that energy saving ideas are on my mind, I’ve been wandering the house looking for my next kill. After doing a little research, I learned that refrigerators typically consume a large percentage of the monthly energy bill, and cleaning the coils makes the refrigerator more efficient. That sounds good for both my wallet and the environment. Additionally, cleaning the refrigerator coils is a free mini-project I can do to make my kitchen a little more livable.
What you’ll need:
- Vacuum cleaner with crevice tool or brush attachment
- Lint cleaner for dryers or any stiff-bristled brush like a paint brush
Warning: what you are about to see may cause you to recoil in horror. But, I will rest easier at night if I know that these images caused at least one of you dear readers to run screaming to your refrigerator to clean its coils. Let my filthiness be an inspiration to others.
Step 1: Locate the coils. In older refrigerators, these are likely located on the back of the fridge. Newer models tend to have coils at the base of the fridge, either in the front or in the back.
Step 2: Turn off power to the refrigerator. If your refrigerator plug is conveniently located just above your refrigerator, do a quick little dance to celebrate your good fortune. Don’t, however, then drop the cord behind the fridge.
Step 3: Carefully remove the access cover in front of the coils. Ours just sort of wriggled off with a little effort. Prepare for something frightful.
Step 4: Clean the cover in mild soapy water and let dry.
Step 5: Carefully vacuum all the disgustingness surrounding the coils with the crevice tool or brush attachment.
Step 6: Use a dryer vent cleaner or other stiff-bristled brush to clean all the really hard to get places. I used a dryer vent cleaner and it did a remarkably good job.
Step 7: If you are still slightly revolted by the coils, run a damp sponge over all the yucky areas.
Step 8: Marvel at your efforts, then attach the access cover.
Step 9: Think long and hard as to whether you’re strong enough to pull the fridge away from the wall to fetch the plug you’ve dropped behind it. If you decide you are, you’ll likely be rewarded with another disgusting mess to clean.
Step 10: Repeat steps 1-8 (with luck, avoiding step 9) every 3 months or every month if you have pets that shed. Yes, that’s right, one website I visited recommended cleaning the coils EVERY MONTH (we have two lovely dogs that shed a lot). I can’t imagine that this little task, though certainly not particularly difficult, will make it onto my cleaning radar every month. However, it is plausible that I’ll do it every 3 months. I figure every three months is a heck of a lot better than never, so I’m now ahead of the game.
This whole project took about 45 minutes and would have taken a lot less time if I’d been smart enough to avoid the cord mistake. While I can’t say that cleaning the refrigerator coils and behind the fridge makes my kitchen look any better, now that I’ve seen the extent of the hidden filth, it sure does make me feel better about preparing food in there. And, I’m now looking forward to our next electric bill to see how much money I’ve saved. It had better be a lot.