1. Clean off the condenser coils twice per year
Condenser coils are responsible for removing heat from refrigerators and freezers. They’re the large, radiator-like coils located at the back or beneath the unit. When dust and dirt cling to the coils, it’s harder for the refrigerator to remove heat. The result is increased energy consumption. Without regular cleaning, this can lead to problems and costly repairs. Follow your refrigerator owner’s manual for specific instructions related to it.
2. Clean and replace the gasket (rubber door seal) as needed
The gasket is the rubber seal that outlines your refrigerator and freezer doors. It’s an often overlooked part that has the critical job of sealing out warm air. Clean it periodically with a universal cleaner. Over time, gaskets wear and no longer seal the way refrigerators and freezers need to operate efficiently. It’s common for gaskets to weaken, loosen and tear within just a few years. When this happens, warm air enters the interior of the refrigerator or freezer, making it work harder to remove the heat. That means more energy consumed and higher bills for you.
When frost has accumulated on the inside walls of the freezer to a thickness of one half inch (or a little more than one centimeter) or so, remove the food from the refrigerator/freezer, turn off the thermostat or unplug the unit, and allow all of the frost to melt. Once the frost has melted completely, turn the unit back on, wait for it to reach its operating temperature, and restock it with food.
If you have a self-defrosting refrigerator, you don’t need to do anything. Every six to eight hours, your refrigerator heats up its cooling coils slightly to melt any frost accumulation on the coils. The resulting water drains into a shallow pan at the bottom of the refrigerator/freezer.
Though the water evaporates, you’ll need to periodically clean the pan to avoid odors and bacteria growth. Use warm water and a small amount of detergent to clean it out. Your owner’s manual will provide specific instructions related to this but on most models, you can access the pan by detaching the lower grill and sliding out the pan.
4. Clean the interior
Weekly, use a cloth dampened by warm water to wipe down and remove crumbs and spills from shelves and walls. An all purpose cleaner will make the job easier and take on stains and sticky spills without a lot of elbow grease. You can also use this cleaner on doors and handles.
Use airtight containers to seal in odors and keep food fresher longer. If an item is weakly packaged (i.e. fruit cartons) or simply likely to leak (i.e. defrosting meat), place it on a plate before storing.
Freshen and remove odors with a deodorizer that’s specifically designed for refrigerators.
6. Replace the ice maker or water dispenser water filter
Replace the water filtration system filter at least every six months.