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A Handy Guide to Basic Refrigerator Maintenance

H Street Corridor Tenant Cleaning Out His Fridge to Prepare for MaintenanceOne of the most hard-working appliances we have in our homes is the refrigerator. We don’t usually think about it too much unless something goes wrong. All appliances need regular maintenance and cleaning to keep them working properly, and this includes your refrigerator and freezer. If you neglect basic refrigerator maintenance, you not only shorten the useful life of the appliance but could also incur unnecessary and expensive repairs, too.

Whether you have problems with your fridge or you just want to keep it in running condition, this guide can help! We’ll go over fridge maintenance and cleaning basics and a few easy fixes to common problems.

Basic Refrigerator Maintenance

To keep your refrigerator and freezer in good shape, you have to clean them properly several times a year. Aside from wiping out the fridge’s inside when things get grimy, there are other areas you should clean regularly to ensure that your fridge keeps working properly.

Proper refrigerator maintenance includes cleaning the coils behind the fridge once or twice a year. These coils are important because they help keep your refrigerator’s motor working efficiently. To easily clean the coils, unplug the fridge and pull the unit away from the wall. After opening the back of the fridge, you have to vacuum out any dust or debris you find. If the dust seems stuck on, a dry paintbrush can help wipe it off the coils.

The door seals are also one of the parts you should clean regularly since these seals help your refrigerator keep a consistent internal temperature. The seals are fairly easy to clean. Just use a damp cloth and wipe between the folds of the fridge or freezer door seals.

Finally, you have to wipe down the entire inside and outside of your fridge and freezer. The CDC recommends using hot, soapy water or, to disinfect, a solution made from 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Either of these will kill bacteria and leave your refrigerator clean and fresh.

Common Problems and Fixes

Even with regular maintenance and cleaning, refrigerators can still suffer from a range of ailments. Here are some common ones and ways to fix them:

  1. Freezer Frost
  2. Frozen Food
  3. Lukewarm Food

Frost in the freezer. If you notice a buildup of frost or ice crystals in the interior of your freezer, your freezer door might not be sealed tightly enough. If a freezer door isn’t tightly sealed, water can get inside, freeze, and form frost. When that happens, it is best to defrost the freezer completely and then clean it using these steps. To defrost a freezer, unplug it, open the door, and wait for the ice to melt on its own. Do this at least once a year. If you notice that you need to defrost frequently, it may be time to replace the seal.

Food freezing in the refrigerator. If you observe that some food in the fridge tends to freeze, especially toward the back, you might have an issue with the temperature control or the thermostat. The easiest way to solve this is to adjust your fridge’s thermostat. However, if you still find frozen food in the refrigerator after troubleshooting it yourself, you should consider hiring a handyman.

The refrigerator is not cold enough. Another problem that needs to be addressed immediately is if you notice food in your fridge spoiling quickly or doesn’t seem very cold. A fridge that doesn’t get cold could have a range of issues from dirty coils, an incorrectly set thermostat, or a faulty thermostat. Anyone can do the first two fixes themselves. (A professional’s help is probably needed to repair a defective thermostat.)


Are you thinking about moving to a new H Street Corridor rental home, maybe one with a fridge provided? If so, reach out to Real Property Management Washington DC! You can contact us online or view our listings.

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