Cleaning Your Refrigerator Tips and Tricks

For a faster, more profitable home sale

Messy refrigerator creates a bad impression to home buyers.Guaranteed NOT to make a good impression on home buyers!

Cleaning your refrigerator and staging it may seem like an unnecessary chore when selling your house, but consider that many home buyers WILL peak inside to see if there's enough room for their stuff. When I was a realtor, I saw this happen often.

Look inside anyone’s fridge and you may find a hodge podge of items crammed into every available space, with stacked containers teetering dangerously and the ubiquitous "science experiment" lurking in the back.

The same is true of the freezer section, as well. I once had an avalanche of frozen meat slide out of my freezer and land on my foot!

Your refrigerator should smell great as well-- don’t let home buyers open the door to the smell of spoiled produce and unidentified remains of what was once edible food.

Home buyers will immediately form a bad impression and doubt the cleanliness of your kitchen and home. A huge reason for cleaning your refrigerator.

How to clean the inside of your fridge

  • Start by turning off the refrigerator. Remove everything, tossing food that has gone bad, condiment jars that are almost empty, and anything that has expired. I always find at least one product that I purchased for a new recipe and never used again. 
  • Once everything is out, remove all the drawers and shelves for cleaning. Before you do this, try to memorize how it looks and the order in which you removed them. Or, snap a picture of it with your cell phone. This will help when you go to put it all back together. 
  • Wash everything in warm water and dish soap. For really smelly drawers, use a solution of baking soda and water, or vinegar and water. Often you will find sticky residue from food leakage at the bottom of your fridge. Take a soapy sponge and squeeze warm water on these areas and let it sit for a while to loosen the gunk. Repeat until it wipes clean. 
  • Wipe down the entire inside of your fridge with a soapy sponge. Rinse with clean water. If a bad odor persists, wipe the inside with a solution of vinegar and water. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell will go away. 

How to clean a refrigerator exterior

Remove the cluttered art gallery from the surface of your fridge.Remove the art gallery from the front of your fridge!

The first thing you need to do is remove the art gallery on the door of your fridge. Doing so will greatly reduce the cluttered look and enhance your kitchen decor.

Remove magnets, calendar, children's artwork, and photos and pack them away for the fridge in your new home! 

Don’t forget about the top and the outside of the fridge. Your refrigerator should be gleaming and free of fingerprints and smudges when buyers come over.

Remove gummy residue left over from stickers with “Goo Gone” Remover. This gel will remove a multitude of gooey problems like, gum, crayons, stickers, wax, tape residue, makeup, glue, tar, etc. It is all organic and contains no harsh solvents.

Goo Gone is available at any home improvement store and has a permanent place in my cleaning arsenal.

How to clean a stainless steel refrigerator exterior

Keep stainless steel refrigerators bright and shiny!Keep your stainless steel refrigerator shiny and clean!

Don't let prospective buyers find your stainless steel refrigerator looking less than perfect and smudged with fingerprints.

There are plenty of quick and easy methods to keep your stainless steel fridge looking shiny and clean.

  • Water and a microfiber cloth work great for a quick wipe down. For removing food crud, use dish soap and a microfiber cloth. Always wipe your stainless steel refrigerator dry to prevent spots and streaks.
  • For stains and scratches, try a stainless steel cleaner like “3M Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish.” 
  • Windex is a cost effective home remedy for cleaning stainless steel; spray on a fine mist, wipe in circular motion, rinse off and dry with a microfiber cloth. I find that Windex works just as well as the more expensive stainless steel cleaning products.
  • My all-time favorite stainless steel refrigerator shine enhancer? Rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth. I use this on all my stainless fixtures throughout the house. The alcohol leaves a brilliant shine, in addition to disinfecting the surface.
  • Always dry stainless steel surfaces after cleaning. If you have hard water, spotting may occur, so wipe stainless steel surfaces with a cloth dipped in white vinegar, then dry with a soft cloth. 

How to clean non-stainless refrigerator exteriors

Spray the exterior with a degreasing cleaning product. Why a degreaser? Because grease floats around kitchens, building up on the outside of kitchen appliances and especially on the top of a fridge.

Wipe down the surface with a damp sponge. Repeat, if necessary. When cleaning your refrigerator with a degreasing product, be sure to rinse off thoroughly.

Rinse with clean water, then buff dry with a lint-free cloth.

My favorite cleaner for grease and grime is "Johnson Bathroom Scrubbing Bubble Bathroom Cleaner." Just spray on, let set a few minutes, then wipe off. Rinse with clean water, then dry with a soft lint-free cloth. Repeat for hardened on grease.

If you want to make your own cleaner, mix a teaspoon of dish soap with 2 cups of water. Pour into a spray bottle for easy use. Spray on fridge, wipe with a damp sponge or rag, rinse, then dry with a lint-free soft cloth.

Cleaning a textured refrigerator exterior

I am not a fan of textured-surface refrigerators. They are difficult to keep clean because dirt and grease collect in the grooved surfaces.

  • One of the easiest ways to clean a textured fridge, (and they are not easy to clean once the grime sets in) is to spray with... yes, once again! “Johnson Scrubbing Bubble Bathroom Cleaner.” Let it set for the recommended time, then wipe clean with a damp sponge. The grime will wipe right off! Rinse clean and dry with a cloth.
  • The "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" works really well on textured surfaces, as well. Be sure to rinse the refrigerator surface with clean water, then wipe dry with a clean cloth.

How to stage the inside of your refrigerator

As if cleaning your refrigerator wasn't enough, why do we need to stage the inside? Because home buyers WILL peek inside! When I worked as a real estate agent, it never failed. Buyers almost always peaked inside!

Buyers love organized kitchens and a clean and nicely organized fridge interior will really impress them! They will assume that because the fridge is in such great shape, the entire house must be also!

Home staged refrigerator interior.Who wouldn't be impressed with the inside of this fridge?!!
  • Sort food into categories, putting like items together. Keep fruit in one drawer, veggies in another. If you have a third drawer, put your meat or cheese in there. Organizing your food into groups will ultimately save you time when you are looking for something. 
  • Clean up any spills immediately before they have a chance to harden and smell. And don’t forget to put an opened box of baking soda at the back of your fridge to absorb odors.
  • Try to keep spaces between food items in your fridge to give the illusion of more space. This may seem pointless to you, but a beautifully stage refrigerator never fails to impress home buyers.
  • Use attractive storage containers to store left-over food.
  • As with the inside of your cabinets, "face" your products to the front so that labels face forward. They will look neat and well organized.

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