How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

Cleaning coils extends fridge life.

Refrigerators are the most important appliance in the house providing safe handling of perishables while preventing bacterial illness in the kitchen. The refrigerator is a machine that needs attention to perform efficiently and neglect could end up costing you; it needs fresh air and ample space to release heat built up from the refrigerant as it cools your perishable items.

Cleaning Your Refrigerator Coils

Always leave a couple inches of space between cabinets, trash cans and even cereal boxes above and below the fridge to allow maximum airflow and clean your refrigerator coils every six months, more often if you have pets with dander.

This procedure covers refrigerators with coils underneath and on the back.


  • Coil brush
  • Mop
  • Vacuum
  • Screwdriver (if needed)
  • Flashlight

Initial Procedure

  1. Remove all items from the top of the refrigerator. Vacuum and mop the floor immediately in front and let dry.
  2. Pull refrigerator out of cabinets until you can access the backside easily. Make sure water lines and cords aren't hyper-extended or tugged free.
  3. Vacuum walls and floor behind the fridge, mop floor, and let dry.
  4. Unplug refrigerator.
  5. Proceed to the directions for cleaning either the back coils or the coils below the refrigerator, depending on your model. Once completed, finish the cleaning job as described below.

Cleaning Back Coils

  1. Probe coil brush through coils pulling lint and dust free then vacuum brush clean.
  2. Repeat as needed.
  3. Vacuum any dust from floor beneath coils when done.

Cleaning Coils Below the Refrigerator

  1. Remove front cover at base of fridge.
  2. Probe coil brush through coils pulling lint and dust free then use the vacuum brush to further clean the coils and area surrounding them.
  3. Repeat as needed.
  4. Replace front cover when done.

Finish the Job

When finished, plug in and return the refrigerator to its original position. Vacuum the floor, if necessary, because whether your refrigerator has back or beneath coils you want to keep the area in front and under the fridge free of dirt and dust for increased air circulation.

Better Airflow Means Better Efficiency

Air flows under the fridge and up the back in both styles of coil design. The fans that blow over the compressor coils only work a small portion for cooling, so conduction of heat is the only thing circulating the air through the majority of your fridge's coils. Keeping the coils clean and clear will improve your fridge efficiency and performance as well as extend the life of your fridge. Now the next thing you need to know is how to get smells out of your fridge.

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How to Clean Refrigerator Coils