How To Clean A Moldy Fridge Safely In 6 Easy Steps

by Nick Evans | Last Updated: June 18, 2020

If you are wondering how to clean a moldy fridge, this article tells you everything you need to know.

In this guide we will cover:

  • A little background on mold
  • What you need to clean a moldy fridge
  • 6 easy steps to get rid of mold from your refrigerator

And some tips you can use to avoid mold growth.

how to clean a moldy fridge

Over the years, we have advanced our food preservation technology. Nonetheless, as with all problems, there’s always another obstacle lurking. Case in point: moldy refrigerators.

What You Need To Know About Your Moldy Fridge

Mold grows both indoors and outdoors. The fungus responsible for causing the mold is resilient and thrives in damp, dark conditions.

Refrigerators encourage the growth of mold because they’re dark, damp, and cold. If you have mold in your fridge, it will destroy your food, cause a rancid odor, and stain the compartments.

Additionally, mold can cause serious health issues if you inhale or touch them as they produce toxic compounds known as mycotoxins.

The most common source of mold in a refrigerator is moldy food. Rotting food often develops mold while in the fridge. The mold can spread to other surfaces through air circulation.

Food like hard salami and cheese produces mold naturally, which is less likely to spread to other surfaces.

You must clean your fridge thoroughly to discourage mold from growing. Also, to avoid the recurrence of mold, you need to moderate your refrigerator’s humidity level and ensure the water line isn’t leaking.

Extremely high humidity and water accumulation in your fridge can encourage mold growth.

Supplies You’ll Need for Cleaning a Moldy Fridge

You don’t require a whole lot by way of specialty products to clean a moldy fridge. However, there are a few items that will help to streamline the process. 

Here are some helpful items to get the job done:

How to Clean a Moldy Fridge (5 Steps)

After gathering the necessary supplies, you need to turn off your fridge before you begin clearing the mold. This step is a precaution you need to take to avoid electric shock hazards. If you have wooden floors, you may want to lay down some rags or paper towels to protect the floor from any spills. Once you’ve taken the necessary precautionary measures, you can begin cleaning your refrigerator in these 5 simple steps.

#1 – Toss Out Expired Food and Overstayed Items

The first step is to check dates on every food item and toss out anything that has expired, or is about to expire. Use gloves to scoop out old, soggy food. These are the culprits of mold. Place the remaining contents in a cooler. Don’t leave anything in the fridge or try to clean around the item. You will save a lot of time cleaning a fridge with nothing in it.

While you’re at it, take out any removable door inserts, drawers, and shelves.

#2 – Clean Thoroughly with Warm Water and Soap

It’s recommendable to use warm water and detergent to clean mold from hard surfaces. Wash all removable parts in the sink with soapy water. Make sure you wear gloves when cleaning these surfaces, so you don’t touch the mold.

Spray the parts with vinegar before washing them with a mixture of baking soda and soapy water. Scrub the detachable items thoroughly as mold can be persistent. If you don’t remove the mold on the first try, spray the moldy area with vinegar, wait for about 10 minutes, and scrub it again in soapy water.

Rinse off the parts and wipe them thoroughly with clean paper towels. Dispose of the towels in a trash bag.

#3 – Scrub the Interior Aiming for Mold

Fill up your bucket halfway with water and some dish soap, and turn your focus to cleaning the insides of your fridge. Using a microfiber washcloth, wash the shelves, walls, underside, and ceiling. Microfiber cloth is good at eliminating fingerprints and streaks that can otherwise mar the surfaces of your appliance.

Spray vinegar along the gasket (outer ring of the fridge) and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Scrub the interior surfaces with a baking soda solution. Scrub more intensely on mold spots, without breaking or scratching anything. The baking soda solution will neutralize the smell of the mold and vinegar.

Use a toothbrush to reach and scrub out the mold growing in the gasket.

#4 – Rinse, Dry and Re-organize the refrigerator

Rinse all surfaces with clean water. Wipe your refrigerator with a dry microfiber cloth to dry it. Completely dry the detached parts as well. After the refrigerator dries up, return the inserts, drawers, and shelves to their respective places. If you need to adjust shelf placements to create more room, this would be a good time to do it.

Next, put back the original contents of the fridge. Use a damp rag or sponge to wipe the exterior surfaces of food containers and bottles. It’s advisable to place items that are close to expiring at the front so that you can consume them first and avoid instances of rotting and mold growth.

#5 – In case the Vinegar Smell is too Concentrated…

Once you have everything back into the fridge, do something about the lingering odor of vinegar and soap. Place an open box or bowl of baking soda inside your refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

Baking soda eliminates foul odors – it’s a natural deodorizer.

If the smell persists, spread ground coffee beans on a plate and place it on one of the shelves for a day. These two methods allow you to eliminate the smell of mold without chemicals.

Prevent Mold

Prevention has always been better than cure. You want to avoid growing mold in your fridge in the first place. Keep an eye on the types of food you put in your fridge.

Discard food that has started rotting, as soon as you spot it. Also, cover all your food with food-safe containers, tin foil, or plastic wrap. Covering food discourages mold spores from spreading from moldy food to other parts of your fridge and house.

Be sure to clean your refrigerator regularly and thoroughly. After every cleaning session, leave the door(s) open for a day or two to get rid of any moisture that can lead to stinky odors and mold growth.

It’s recommendable to defrost your fridge every so often to minimize the accumulation of ice, which melts and creates an environment for mold to grow and multiply in. Watch for leaks and repair them as soon as they appear.

If possible, avoid storing cardboard or paper in your fridge as they can absorb moisture and attract mold. Store your veggies and fruits in plastic crates, instead of cardboard boxes, to keep them fresh for longer.

Food Storage Tips to Avoid Mold Buildup

To avoid mold inside your refrigerator, you need to observe good food storage practices.

Milk and other dairy food

Store wrapped cheeses deep on the shelves or in drawers. Place dairy-based food on the main shelves, and not the door shelves. Door shelves are subject to temperature fluctuations that can affect the integrity of milk and other dairy products.

Lettuce, berries and herbs

Put fresh herbs, berries, and lettuce in the drawer section of your fridge.

Store eggs

You can place eggs on the door shelves or any other place with minimal disturbance.

Ethylene gas-producing veggies and fruits

Don’t mix this type of food with vegetables and fruits that are sensitive to ethylene. Ethylene-sensitive food includes broccoli, green beans, unripe bananas, carrots, tomatoes, mangos, and avocados.

Tomatoes

Unless very ripe, you should store tomatoes away from ethylene-producing food.

Jarred items

Keep jarred items like dressings, olives, and jellies in door shelves.

They’re highly stable items that are barely affected by temperature fluctuations.

Wrapped meat and fish

To avoid drips, place wrapped food in a container or a plate. Store this type of food on the bottom shelves to prevent drips from contaminating the food below.

Salad vegetables

Wrap your salad veggies in papers with air holes to protect them from any contamination. You can also wrap these vegetables in a damp paper towel to keep them fresh for longer. Store your salads in the crisper (salad drawer).

Follow these simple rules to keep your fridge and food free of mold.

  1. Never leave open cans in your refrigerator. They can cause chemical contamination and promote mold growth.
  1. Don’t overload your fridge. Cramming your refrigerator can block the cooling unit, thereby reducing its performance.
  1. Maintain the correct temperature: below 5° C for the fridge, and below -18° C for the freezer.
  1. The new stock goes behind the old one. You want to eat the food in your fridge based on the expiry date to avoid throwing any food away.

Hire a professional

A sure fire way to maintain your fridge is to get professional help. Mold spores can become a menace when they contaminate your fridge and start spreading to other parts of your house and a qualified professional can combat this without issue.

We hope this answered your question of how to clean a moldy fridge. If you still have questions, please contact us! Thanks for reading.