Keeping your refrigerator clean involves more than wiping down the shelves and exterior. Most refrigerator maintenance tips recommend cleaning the condenser coils annually for optimal performance. How do you clean refrigerator coils? A vacuum’s brush attachment and an appliance brush can quickly complete the task. Learn how to clean refrigerator coils with this simple step-by-step guide.

How and Why You Should Clean Refrigerator Coils

Cleaning refrigerator coils doesn’t require extensive time or expertise. However, it’s an important job that can extend the life of your refrigerator and ensure that it runs optimally. We’ll detail how to clean refrigerator coils but, first, here’s why cleanings are so vital to your fridge’s function.

Why Your Refrigerator Coils Need Cleaning

As refrigerant flows through the condenser coils, it dissipates heat to produce cool air for the refrigerator. Most coils are located at the base of the refrigerator or on its rear side. Consequently, they can easily become covered in dust and dirt. If this debris accumulates, the refrigerant can’t adequately cool, causing the refrigerator’s internal temperature to rise. The compressor will also start to work harder, risking malfunction.

These are common signs that it’s time to clean condenser coils:

  • Refrigerator is warm: If the refrigerant can’t cool down, it won’t be able to produce cool air for the refrigerator.
  • Buzzing sounds: If your refrigerator makes noise that sounds like buzzing, it could be the sound of the compressor working harder to keep it cool.
  • Spoiled food: Even a slight increase in temperature can cause some foods to spoil more quickly.
  • Increased utility bills: When the compressor has to work harder, it uses more electricity, increasing your monthly utility bills.

Here’s how to clean refrigerator coils to avoid these problems and keep your fridge running smoothly.

Step 1: Turn Off Power to the Refrigerator

Turning off the refrigerator’s power ensures your safety while cleaning. Some refrigerators have a Power button on a digital control panel. Others require you to move the refrigerator away from the wall to unplug it or turn power off at the circuit breaker. Since cleaning the coils takes less than 20 minutes and the refrigerator doors stay closed, food should still stay cold while you work.

Step 2: Locate the Coils

Refer to your user manual to determine the location of the condenser coils on your model refrigerator. Most are behind a panel on the refrigerator’s rear wall or behind a front kick plate or upper grille. If the coils are on the refrigerator’s rear side, move it away from the wall and remove the panel to access them. Your user manual will provide instructions on how to lift or remove the grille or kick plate to reach those coils.

Step 3: Vacuum With a Brush Attachment

Use the vacuum’s brush attachment to remove large pieces of dust, dirt and debris from in and around the coils. Include the floor around the coils as well as the interior of the grille or kick plate as you vacuum.

Step 4: Use an Appliance Brush

An appliance cleaning brush is a helpful tool to remove smaller pieces of debris from in and around the coils. Rotate the brush across the coils, twisting it inside narrow corners and tight spots to remove any lingering dust and dirt. Gently insert it between the coils to remove unseen debris.

clean refrigerator coils

Image from A Concord Carpenter 

Step 5: Vacuum One More Time

After using the appliance brush, use the vacuum’s narrow hose attachment to remove any fallen debris from around the coils or floor. Once all the dirt and dust is removed, replace the refrigerator’s rear panel, kick plate or grille.

Step 6: Restore the Refrigerator’s Power

Don’t forget to restore power to your refrigerator at the control panel or circuit breaker or by plugging it back in.

Even if you clean refrigerator coils regularly, your refrigerator can still fall victim to malfunctions. When it does, contact Appliance Repair Specialists to schedule an expert refrigerator repair!