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How to Clean Refrigerator Coils


Why Clean Refrigerator Coils?

The condenser coils in a refrigerator function to cool the air within the appliance.  The coils are filled with a liquid refrigerant that is cooled by the coils prior to entering the appliance through the evaporator coils.

Coils that are covered with dust and pet hair may impair the appliances ability to run as efficiently as it should.  In fact, if your refrigerator seems to be running properly but is just not getting cold enough, or running all the time to keep the refrigerator cold enough, the solution may be as simple as cleaning your coils. [GE Appliances]

Dirty Coils May Be Costing You Money

Keeping your coils free of debris could save up to 6% of the appliances energy use, which may make the extra work worth the effort in light of the fact that the refrigerator is the home’s largest consumer of energy second only to the air conditioner. [Standford University] [US Energy Information Administration]

Not maintaining your refrigerator properly can cause it to work harder to maintain the internal temperature, resulting in other parts of the appliance working harder, which may cause them to break down prematurely.

How Often Should I Clean My Refrigerator Coils

In order to keep your refrigerator running at maximum capacity, you should clean the refrigerator’s condenser coils at least twice a year.  Homes with pets or refrigerators located in a dusty location, such as a basement or garage, will need to clean the coils more often.

Where Are the Condenser Coils Located On My Fridge?

Prior to cleaning the condenser coils on your refrigerator, you must locate them. In most newer models, the condenser coils are either located at the back of the appliance or underneath it behind the base grille.

A few models have condenser coils on the top of the fridge.  Keep in mind that some refrigerators do not have coils that can be cleaned by the consumer.


Cleaning Condenser Coils behind and beneath the Refrigerator

Pull the refrigerator out from the wall and unplug it, or turn off the circuit breaker to the appliance.

Remove the cover panel if present for back coils, or the grille located at the base in front for coils beneath the appliance.

Clean the coils using a refrigerator coil brush being careful not to bend the cooling fins.  Refrigerator coil brushes are readily available at online or at home and garden centers such as Lowes.  They are worth the few dollars investment and can double as dryer vent cleaners.

Vacuum the debris.

Push your refrigerator back into place.  If your refrigerator is equipped with water and ice be careful not to pinch any of these lines when you move the appliance.

Plug it back in.



“Cleaning Your Refrigerator. Keeping Homes Safe and Families Healthy.” Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Penn State, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. <>.

“Clean Refrigerator Condenser Coils Twice a Year.” Standford University: Sustainable Choices. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. <>.

“End-Use Consumption of Electricity by End Use and Appliance.” US Energy Information Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. <>.

“Refrigerator – How to Clean the Condenser Coils.” General Electric Appliances. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. <>.


Expert Opinion

Quote:  “This is one of the less intuitive and lesser known opportunities for energy savings: refrigerator coils. For starters, where and what are refrigerator coils? Condenser coils in your refrigerator cool a refrigerant liquid, which is then use to cool the air inside the fridge. They are markedly less efficient at doing their job when they are covered with lint, dust, and other kitchen floor crud. ”

Source: Clean Refrigerator Condenser Coils Twice Per Year  Standford University School of Earth Sciences


Quote:  “The condensate pan below the refrigerator is also a spot that needs special cleaning; if water remains there mold and other organisms can grow. The pan can be removed for cleaning with a multi surface cleaner. Finally, careful cleaning of the gaskets is important to keep them working effectively to keep the cold in. ”

Source:  Keeping Your Refrigerator in Shape for 2003  UW Cooperative Extension Service

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