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15 Best Ways To Maintain Your Refrigerator (2022 Checklist)

How To Maintain A Refrigerator

Have you bought a new refrigerator recently?

And do you want to keep it in top condition for years?

Or do you want to save your old one from further damage?

You’re in luck!

As there are several effective ways to achieve that.

In this article, I’ve prepared a list for you. 

So…

Read on to learn:

  • 15 easy and effective ways to maintain a refrigerator.
  • Tips on arranging food items in the fridge for efficient cooling.
  • The effect of changing the water filter on the fridge’s cooling function.
  • The proper way to clean the condenser coils for optimal performance.
  • And a lot more…

How to maintain a refrigerator?

To maintain a refrigerator, always make sure to keep it running, close, filled, and clean. Ensure that the door seals, condenser coils, water filter, and vents are in good condition. Setting the right temperature and keeping it away too close to walls and heating applicants also helps maintain it. 


15 best ways to maintain your refrigerator


#1: Close the fridge door immediately after use

“Close the refrigerator door! Otherwise, it’s bad for the fridge.”

That’s what my Mum would tell me when I was little. 

Well, she was correct. 

According to one study, a refrigerator consumes more energy when its door is open. 

But apart from that, leaving the fridge door open can damage your unit and spoil your stored food.

Here’s how: 

When the fridge door is left open for too long, the warm air from the room mixes with the cool air from the fridge. Causing moisture inside the appliance. 

And that may lead to:

  • Food spoilage and wastage.
  • Busted compressor for working too hard.
  • Fridge interior developing an unpleasant odor.

Important to know: Older refrigerator units are more prone to such damages.

#2: Check the fridge door seal

Ensuring that the fridge door properly closes also helps maintain your unit.

So, make sure to check whether the door seal is in good condition.

A door seal, also called a gasket, is the rubber attached to your refrigerator door. 

Its primary function is to ensure that the fridge’s cold air is trapped inside the unit. Which is essential in preserving wet and dry foods stored in the appliance.

Here’s how you can test out your refrigerator door seal:

  1. Grab any piece of paper.
  2. Slip it between the fridge and its door.
  3. Close the refrigerator door.
  4. Then, try to pull out the paper.

If you can easily pull out the paper, then it means that your fridge isn’t properly sealed.

And you should consider replacing it.

Watch this video to get an idea of how to replace a refrigerator door seal:

Note: The process of replacing the door seal may vary depending on your unit’s manufacturer.

#3: Always keep the refrigerator filled

Unlike other appliances, keeping your refrigerator running and filled helps maintain it.

By filling up your fridge with food, you help your unit operate and cool more efficiently.

This is because a refrigerator needs an “item” to keep its system running. It needs a thermal mass for its condenser, compressor, and other parts to run and produce cool air.

Without anything in it, your fridge won’t be able to regulate its temperature. Causing some parts of it to work harder and eventually get damaged or worn out.

Tip: Leaving even a few bottles of water in it would help prevent such damage.

#4: Arrange and cover the food items

Arranging the foods in your fridge isn’t just great for aesthetics…

Doing so also helps the cool air inside to flow continuously and effectively. 

And it’s not only beneficial for the preservation of the foods. But also for the operation of the appliance itself.

To help you out, here are some tips and guides you can follow:

  • Use fridge organizer bins and trays.
  • Place necessary food items on the front.
  • Dedicate a specific area for each type of food.
  • Place food items on plastic or glass tupperwares.
  • Use foils or plastic wraps to cover larger food items.

Buying tip: Make sure to measure the fridge interior first. That way, you’ll know which organizer containers to get.

You may also wonder: What is a smart inverter on a fridge? 

#5: Remove food waste daily

Sure, filling up your fridge helps maintain it. But leaving spoiled food inside your unit can damage it too.

That will leave an unpleasant odor on your appliance. Plus, it can affect the cooling function of your fridge in some way.

So, make sure to remove every expired and spoiled food from your fridge.

You can either remove food waste:

  • Before bedtime.
  • Every early morning.
  • Right after cooking dinner.
  • Before storing new food supplies.

That way, you can also prevent other food stored in your fridge from spoiling.

#6: Never put warm food items

Some people put food in the fridge to preserve it. And others put food and drinks to cool them.

While there’s nothing wrong with putting a bottle of water in the fridge to cool it…

Placing a warm drink or food in it can cause damage to the appliance.

Your fridge’s function is to maintain a steady temperature. 

And whenever you place a new item in it, your fridge adjusts itself to match the set temperature.

Placing warm or hot food would force your fridge’s condenser to work harder to lower the temperature. And that can cause it to wear out faster.

Tip: To avoid that from happening, make sure to leave warm foods on a table first to cool them.

#7: Place a piece of charcoal or baking soda

“My fridge smells after leaving some leftover food from last night…”

Geez. I know how you feel.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to remove unpleasant odors from your fridge interior.

To remove foul odor, place either a:

Charcoal and baking soda are two effective odor eliminator ingredients.

Unlike fresheners, these two absorb unpleasant odors from the air. So, they don’t just “cover-up” bad odor in your fridge. Instead, they remove it.

So to neutralize the air of your fridge interior, put charcoal or baking soda on one of its shelves.

#8: Maintain the right temperature

Setting the right and proper temperature on your refrigerator is necessary for:

  • Efficient cooling.
  • Avoiding food spoilage.

How?

Well, “temperature” is crucial in preserving any type of food. As any changes in the ambient temperature can cause the food to spoil faster.

Plus, maintaining the right temperature also helps your fridge to cool better. Thus, helping preserve your refrigerator in the long run.

According to the FDA, the right refrigerator temperature is as follow:

  • Freezer: 0°F (-18°C).
  • Refrigerator: at or below 40°F (4°C).

Note: Suppose your refrigerator doesn’t have a numbered temperature switch. Review your user’s manual for guidelines and recommendations.

#9: Perform general cleaning regularly

Perform General Cleaning Regularly On Refrigerator

No matter how neat you are in storing food in your refrigerator…

It can still accumulate dirt and residues from food waste.

That said, you should clean your fridge shelves at least once in 1 to 2 months.  You can also set a specific date on your calendar to schedule your general cleaning. 

Doing so doesn’t only help make your fridge look clean. But it also helps remove microorganisms that may spoil and contaminate your food. 

Cleaning the fridge is straightforward. You’d only need to wipe the shelves with clean water and mild soap to remove residues.

But here’s a simple guideline you can follow for more efficiency:

  1. Switch off the refrigerator.
  2. Empty the shelves.
  3. Remove the shelves from the unit.
  4. Wash the shelves using clean water and mild soap.
  5. Wipe the fridge’s interiors using a damp cloth.
  6. Air-dry the fridge’s interior and shelves.
  7. Return the shelves properly.
  8. Return the food items to the shelves.
  9. Switch on the refrigerator.

#10: Defrost the freezer once a week

Aside from cleaning the fridge’s interiors, you should defrost its freezer as well.

Good to know: Modern refrigerators today have a self-defrosting mechanism. Which prevents ice build-ups on their freezers.

If your unit doesn’t have that mechanism, you must defrost it manually.

“How would I know if my freezer needs defrosting?”

You should defrost your freezer if the ice around the freezer is already at least ½ inch (1.27 cm).

But typically, you should defrost your freezer at least once a week to avoid ice build-ups.

Here are some tips and reminders when defrosting a freezer:

  • Ready a cooler to temporarily store wet food.
  • Remove any stored food in the freezer before defrosting.
  • Place a rug underneath the fridge to avoid water spillage.
  • Make sure to unplug the refrigerator first before defrosting.
  • Open the fridge door and place a fan in front to speed up the process.
  • Never use sharp objects like ice picks to forcibly remove ice build-ups.

#11: Clean the water and ice dispenser

Does your refrigerator have built-in water or ice dispenser?

Then you should clean them as well.

A white film can build up on the water and ice dispenser over time. And that’s a mineral deposit from some chemicals present in your water.

Sure, this won’t damage the health and system of your refrigerator. But this will definitely contaminate your drinking water.

And I bet you wouldn’t want that to happen, don’t you?

That said, you should always check your water and ice dispensers for any white flaky residues.

And make sure to clean them using:

  • Water and vinegar mixture.
  • Water and mild soap mixture.

Pro tip: To effectively remove the while film, soak it with any mixtures above for at least 10 minutes.

#12: Change the water filter

Next, you should also change the water filter of your refrigerator.

Important note: This only applies to refrigerators with water or ice dispensers.

Water filters are necessary to ensure that your drinking water is clean.

And like similar filtering components, it needs replacing after 6 months of usage.

Doing so not only ensures clean water. But it helps water and ice dispensers to run more efficiently.

“How can I replace my refrigerator water filter?”

First, you have to locate the water filter. Usually, it is located right under the water or ice dispenser.

Then, look for the correct water filter replacement. 

To do that, you have to review your user’s manual to note any specifications. You may also reach out to your manufacturer’s support for leads or recommendations.

Once you have your replacement, follow the simple steps below:

  1. Pull out the water filter from your fridge.
  2. Place the new water filter. Make sure that you hear a “snap.”

Note: Depending on your refrigerator model, you may need to unscrew the filter cover first.

#13: Vacuum the condenser coils

While you’re at it, consider cleaning the condenser coils as well.

The function of the condenser coils is to remove heat from the refrigerator. That way, the unit can maintain its temperature and preserve the foods properly.

Given that, you should clean the condenser coils at least twice a year for efficient cooling. 

How?

Unlike the other parts, condenser coils aren’t supposed to be in contact with any liquid. 

So, use a vacuum cleaner to remove accumulated dust on it. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Switch off and unplug the refrigerator.
  2. Locate the condenser coils at the back.
  3. Unscrew and remove the back cover.
  4. Use a hand-held vacuum to remove dust stuck on it.
  5. Return the back cover.
  6. Replug and switch on the refrigerator.

Reading tip: 9 Things To Do When Your Smart Fridge Isn’t Cooling (DIY)

#14: Don’t place it close to walls and heating appliances

Where did you put your refrigerator?

If it’s close to walls and other kitchen appliances, move it immediately.

Why?

First, refrigerators need good airflow to function correctly. And walls on its back or sides can block it.

Second, kitchen appliances like cooktops and ovens produce heat. Which can affect and confuse your refrigerator’s temperature sensor. 

Once your fridge detects heat around it, it’ll automatically adjust its temperature to correct it. And that may cause your refrigerator’s compressor to get damaged in the long run.

Instead, place it in an open area. Or beside your kitchen door. 

If you want to build custom cabinetry, make sure it’s not sitting next to other heating appliances. Plus, ensure allowances around it.

Here’s how much free space your refrigerator should have:

  • Top: 4 inches (10 cm).
  • Rear and sides: 2 inches (5 cm).

#15: Keep the fridge level 

Last but not least, keep your refrigerator level.

When your refrigerator isn’t level, it may cause the:

  • Door seal to not close.
  • Stored food to spill and cause an unpleasant odor.
  • Condenser and compressor to work harder than necessary.

That said, you should inspect your refrigerator at least once a year. Or whenever you’re relocating it.

To inspect your refrigerator:

  1. Get a level bar.
  2. Place it on one of the shelves.
  3. See if the “bubble” in the level bar is at the center.

If not, then it means that your refrigerator isn’t balanced.

For that case, build a custom platform for your refrigerator. You can create a wooden one, so it’s much easier to adjust if necessary.