Cleaning Refrigerator Coils

How to clean refrigerator coils safely and easily.

Refrigerator coils that need cleaned.If you're wondering how to clean refrigerator coils, there are two primary methods. The first is for newer refrigerators where the coils are in the front of the fridge. For older fridges, it's a bit more work since the coils are in the back and you'll have to move the fridge.

Cleaning refrigerator coils makes it easier for the fridge to release the heat it removes from inside the fridge. Pet fur or dust on the coils acts as an insulator and the fridge has to work harder, thus using more electricity. Various estimates state that cleaning the coils can reduce electricity use by 4 to 6%.

How to Clean Refrigerator Coils: New Refrigerators

It is recommended that you turn the power off prior to cleaning the refrigerator coils. If I were to do this I'd turn the fridge off at the circuit breaker. To be sure the power was off I would make sure the light inside the refrigerator was off.

  • Pop off the grill at the bottom of the fridge to get to the coils.
  • Use a hose vacuum attachment or shop vac to remove any fur or dust.
  • Snap the grill back on the front of the fridge. In some models you may have to open the fridge door to get the grill back on.

If you turned the power off then it's probably a good idea to turn it back on.

Fridge Coils: Half clean, half dirty.
Half-cleaned refrigerator coils.

How to Clean Refrigerator Coils: Older Refrigerators

First off you might want to take a look at our comparison of refrigerator power consumption for old and new models. A replacement could pay off fairly quickly. As an added bonus cleaning the coils is much easier since they'll be in the front of the fridge.

  • Move the fridge out to get to the back. I'd roll it on a big piece of cardboard to protect the floor.
  • Since you have to move it to get at the coils, you can easily unplug the fridge.
  • Vacuum the coils found on the back. Some people like to use a paint brush to dislodge dust.
  • Vacuum around the base of the fridge and anywhere you see dust or fur.
  • Plug the fridge back in and roll it back in place. You may want to take the opportunity to plug in a Kill-A-Watt power meter to see if a new fridge would use less power.

If you want to get technical there are special brushes you can use. With pets the fur stacks up fairly quickly so I just vacuum them every so often.