Easy Steps to Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

March 6, 2024
Refrigerator Repair

If you want to ensure your refrigerator is running optimally and not wasting electricity, you need to keep your coils clean! It’s a relatively simple task that is often neglected but worthwhile. If it sounds daunting, we promise it’s not! You can do a basic clean with everyday items around your home. In just half an hour or so, your coils can be sparkling clean, and your refrigerator seems brand new. Here’s what to do!

What are refrigerator coils?

Refrigerator coils form the basis of your fridge’s cooling system. They work to dissipate heat and keep your fridge cool on the inside. The refrigerant flows through the coils, absorbing heat from the interior and ensuring your fridge stays cold. 

Do coils really need cleaning?

In short—absolutely! Clean coils are efficient coils, and when your refrigerator coils have a build-up of dust and grime, they’re not able to dissipate heat as efficiently. This means your fridge will have to labor to maintain its correct temperature. If your coils are dusty, you might notice your fridge making a loud buzzing or humming noise as it struggles to cool itself down. You might even notice that your fridge interior is not cold enough, and food is starting to spoil. 

Because coils are located close to the ground, they’re prone to getting dust and pet hair stuck to them, which insulates the coils and affects their cooling potential. Ideally, your coils should be cleaned once a year, or more frequently if you have several pets. Keeping your coils clean not only ensures your fridge operates efficiently, but it can also prolong the life of your refrigerator! 

Steps for thoroughly cleaning your coils

Although cleaning coils is relatively simple, it’s important to remember you’re dealing with an electrical appliance, so you need to act with care. Careless cleaning could result in damage to your refrigerator, so make sure you follow our guide carefully!

Step 1 – Turn off electricity

As a good rule of thumb, you should always cut power to your fridge any time you attempt any maintenance and repair work. As cleaning the coils is quite a quick procedure, your fridge should have enough residual cooling so that your food won’t spoil. 

Step 2 – Access the coils

The location of your refrigerator coils will vary depending on the make and model of your refrigerator. In general, older refrigerators have coils at the back, while newer models have their coils at the bottom. Coils on the bottom can be accessed by removing a grille or “kick plate.” Bottom coils tend to be more efficient, which is why they’re the preferred choice for almost all newer models of refrigerators. 

For both types of coil, you will likely need to move the fridge away from the wall to get better access. Make sure you either get help or use a furniture dolly to move your fridge to avoid injury. 

Step 3 – Vacuum the dust

Once you have access to the coils, the first step is to vacuum them. Take a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment and thoroughly vacuum around them. If the coils are only mildly dirty, this may be all you need to do. If you see stubborn dirt that the vacuum cleaner can’t get, move on to our next step!

Step 4 – Clean by hand

Sometimes, hand cleaning is necessary for getting the dust out of the nooks and crannies of your refrigerator coils. You can use a soft cloth or rag combined with a long, flexible brush to loosen the dust, then suck it up with your vacuum cleaner. If necessary, you can buy specially designed coil cleaning brushes from your local hardware store that are designed to get in between the coils without damaging them. 

Step 5 – Clean surrounding area

Once you’ve cleaned the coils, make sure you thoroughly vacuum the surrounding area. Any dust or pet hair left behind will just end up getting stuck to the coils again, so it makes sense to keep the area clean and free of dust. 

Step 6 – Put the fridge back in place

Replace the grille and put your fridge back in place, then turn it on. You may immediately notice your fridge is now quieter, and if you’re lucky, you might even notice a difference when you get your next electric bill!

What to do for stubborn dirt

Although the above steps will do the trick for cleaning almost all coils, if your coils are particularly dirty, you might need to try one of these solutions. 

Compressed air

You can purchase compressed air in a can from the hardware store, and it’s the perfect solution for cleaning hard-to-reach spots. If there are places even a coil cleaning brush can’t reach, try shooting a stream of compressed air at it. Just be aware that the dust will go everywhere, so be prepared to clean the kitchen floor once you’re done!

Coil cleaning solution

If your coils are greasy as well as dusty, cleaning can be a bit more difficult. Grease makes dust stick, so you won’t be able to just blow or brush the dirt off the coils. If this is your issue, we recommend purchasing a coil cleaning solution. The solution will have instructions on the bottle, but for most products, you will need to spray on the cleaning solution, leave it for a few minutes, and then rinse off with water. It’s a messy process, so only use it in the case of dust that just won’t come off any other way. 

Tips for ongoing coil maintenance

Once your coils are clean, here’s how to keep them in great shape going forward!

  • Keep your kitchen clean: The cleaner your kitchen, the less dust there is to stick to the coils! When you’re vacuuming, make sure you don’t neglect the area around your fridge—this will help keep the coils clean. 
  • Vacuum every six months: The more often you clean your coils, the easier the job will be. A six-monthly quick vacuum can help prevent more in-depth cleaning sessions in the future!

Leave a Reply