The Proper Method to Clean Refrigerator Coils

Why Should I Clean My Refrigerator Coils?

Having a refrigerator that works well is essential for almost every household. One of the ways you can keep yours in great working order is by taking time to clean the condenser coils at least once a year. In fact, experts say that this is the most important task to take on if you want to keep your refrigerator running well. If you are looking to keep your energy costs down and ensure your refrigerator is nice and cold, this is a chore that should be on your to-do list. This is especially true if you have never completed this particular chore in the past. When refrigerator coils are dirty, the compressor needs to work harder and stay on longer to keep things cool. That means that you are going to use additional energy. Not cleaning the coils can also result in more wear and tear so you may end up replacing your refrigerator more quickly.

What Happens If I Don’t Clean My Refrigerator Coils?

A refrigerator uses a pump and motor to pass a gas refrigerant through the coils. The gas is cooled to become a liquid. The coolant can then remove heat from your freezer and refrigerator so everything inside stays cool. If you have coils that are dirty or covered in pet hair, it can cause your refrigerator to need to work harder to keep things cool. Malfunctioning occurs when a refrigerator works harder than it was designed to work. The simple task of cleaning the coils will prevent potential issues.

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Cleaning Your Refrigerator Coils:


  • 1. Unplug the refrigerator from the wall.
    • The first step to cleaning the coils is to turn the refrigerator off and unplug it from the wall. If you’re concerned about your food getting warm, there’s nothing to worry about. Cleaning the coils takes very little time and the refrigerator will maintain its temperature during the time while you are doing the cleaning. Anytime you clean electrical appliances, it’s crucial to unplug them first to avoid injury.

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  • 2. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall.
    • If you have an older refrigerator, the coils on it may be located on the back of it. If that is the case, you want to pull the refrigerator away from the wall about three feet, so you have enough room to do the cleaning. Those who have a refrigerator without wheels can bring in a friend to help.

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  • 3. Remove the refrigerator bottom panel.
    • Those who do not have coils on the back will have a bottom panel where the coils are located. You are going to want to unsnap this panel in order to remove it. Then just put it somewhere while you go through the cleaning process. If you have issues removing the panel, lift it slightly before pulling it toward you.

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  • 4. Remove dirt with a soft-bristled brush.
    • As a refrigerator is used, dirt and debris can be sucked into the coils. You can use a soft brush to remove as much dirt and dust as possible. Scrap below, above, and in between the various coils to remove large sections of dirt. If you have trouble seeing the coils, a flashlight can help with this. Any cleaning or appliance store will sell soft-bristled brushes. A wire duster or brush can also be used. There are also specialty coil condenser brushes that work great for this task.

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  • 5. Use the vacuum to dust.
    • A vacuum can also be used to remove dust. If you have a narrow nozzle, that tends to work the best. It can more easily suck up the dust that is found between coils. Turn on the vacuum and move it over the coils so the vacuum can suck up the grime. This is also a great time to vacuum under the refrigerator while it is pulled out.

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  • 6. Repeat with the vacuum brush attachment.
    • In some cases, using a vacuum will lead to seeing even more dirt on the coils. You can start over with the brush to remove more dirt before using the vacuum again and seeing if things look better at this point.

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  • 7. Replace the refrigerator bottom panel.
    • Take the bottom panel again and put it into position before pushing it back onto the refrigerator. It isn’t hard to determine when the panel is connected again in the right way as it will make a clamping or snapping sound.

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  • 8. Plug the refrigerator back in.
    • If needed, push your refrigerator back into its normal position. After you have completed that, you can plug it in again and turn the power back on. Keep in mind that those who have coils on the back of the refrigerator should leave a gap of around an inch and a half so the refrigerator operates properly.

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  • 9. Remember to clean the coils again in a year.
    • Remembering to clean the coils at least once a year will do a lot to keep your refrigerator properly cooling. Those who have pets with fur should consider cleaning the coils twice a year instead as pet fur can get into the coils and make them work less efficiently. Setting a recurring alarm on your computer or phone calendar is a great way to remember when it’s time to clean the coils again.

      Good job, you have made it through the process of cleaning your refrigerator coils. Not only will your refrigerator be cleaner, but it will also stay colder and no longer need to work as hard to keep your foods at the appropriate temperature. This is an easy chore that can be done in minutes and make a serious difference in how your refrigerator operates.

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