Quick Answer:

To clean coils on a refrigerator, first unplug the fridge. If the coils are on the back, move the fridge away from the wall. If they’re underneath, remove the base grill. Use a coil brush and a vacuum with a brush attachment to gently remove dust, dirt, and pet hair from the coils. Finish by vacuuming any loose debris and carefully replace the grill or move the fridge back into place. Regular cleaning improves efficiency and extends the lifespan of your refrigerator.

Maintaining the efficiency of your refrigerator is not just about keeping it running; it’s about ensuring the longevity of your appliance, preserving the freshness of your food, and optimizing your household’s energy consumption. The refrigerator is one of the most significant energy consumers in the average home, working around the clock to keep your food at safe temperatures. However, its ability to do so efficiently can be severely compromised by the accumulation of dust, pet hair, and grime on its coils. These coils, essential for the appliance’s cooling process, can become less effective when clogged, forcing the refrigerator to work harder, use more electricity, and still struggle to maintain the desired temperatures.

One often overlooked aspect of refrigerator maintenance is the cleaning of these coils. While it may seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of appliance care, the impact of clean coils on a refrigerator’s performance cannot be overstated. Over time, the coils at the back or beneath your refrigerator can become a haven for dust and debris, which act as insulators, trapping heat and preventing the refrigerator from cooling efficiently. This not only leads to increased energy bills as the fridge consumes more power to achieve its cooling objectives but can also shorten the lifespan of your appliance due to the extra strain.

This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the process of cleaning your refrigerator coils. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a novice looking to undertake some basic appliance maintenance, this article will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to clean coils on a refrigerator. By following these expert tips and instructions, you can maintain optimal performance and energy efficiency in your refrigerator, ensuring it runs smoothly for years to come. Let’s dive into the specifics of how to keep your refrigerator’s coils clean, enhancing the appliance’s efficiency and safeguarding your investment.

Understanding Refrigerator Coils

To fully appreciate the importance of keeping refrigerator coils clean, it’s crucial to delve into what these coils do and their role in your refrigerator’s overall functionality. Refrigerator coils, commonly referred to as condenser coils, play a pivotal role in the cooling mechanism of your appliance. These coils are where the refrigerant—the substance responsible for cooling your refrigerator—releases the heat it has absorbed from the interior of your fridge into the surrounding air.

The Impact of Dirt and Dust

When these coils become coated with dust, pet hair, and kitchen grime, their efficiency in releasing heat diminishes. This coating acts as an insulating layer, trapping heat and preventing the vacuum coils from cooling the refrigerant effectively. As a result, the refrigerator’s compressor has to work harder and run longer to achieve the desired interior temperature, leading to several potential problems:

Increased Energy Consumption: The harder your refrigerator has to work to cool its interior, the more electricity it consumes. This inefficiency can lead to noticeably higher energy bills, as the refrigerator is one of the most significant energy users in most households.

Overworked Appliance Components: The additional strain on the freezer or refrigerator’s compressor and other components can lead to wear and tear, potentially shortening the lifespan of your appliance. Over time, this can increase the likelihood of breakdowns and the need for repairs or replacement.

Inadequate Cooling: Perhaps most importantly, if the coils in refrigerators are too clogged, the refrigerator may struggle to maintain the set temperatures, leading to food not being kept at the correct temperatures. This can compromise food safety and lead to spoilage, wasting money and resources.

Preparing for Cleaning

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
  • Coil cleaning brush
  • Soft cloth
  • Mild detergent (optional)

Safety Precautions

  • Unplug the refrigerator to prevent any electrical hazards.
  • Be careful when moving the refrigerator to avoid injury or damage to your floor.
  • Watch out for sharp edges around the coils and back panel.

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean Refrigerator Coils

Step 1: Access the Coils

  • For back coils: Pull the refrigerator away from the wall slowly. Be mindful of the water and power connections. Old fridges may be heavy, so it’s wise to be extra cautious to avoid damaging the floor.
  • For bottom coils: Remove the grill or kick plate at the front, usually secured by clips or screws. This might require gently pushing or pulling the plate.

Step 2: Inspect and Start Cleaning

  • Once you have access, use a flashlight to inspect the amount of dust and pet hair buildup on the coils.
  • Begin vacuuming the coils with the brush attachment to remove the bulk of the dust and dirt. Be gentle to avoid bending or damaging the coils.

Step 3: Use a Coil Cleaning Brush

  • For more thorough cleaning, use a coil cleaning brush. These brushes are designed to fit in tight spaces and remove dust and grime from the coils and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Gently insert the brush between the coil rows and twist to lift and remove debris. Be careful not to force the brush, as this could damage the coils.

Step 4: Wipe Down and Clean Surrounding Area

  • After vacuuming and brushing, use a soft cloth to wipe down the coils and remove any remaining dust.
  • If necessary, a mild detergent can be used to clean the floor or wall behind the refrigerator.
  • Clean the back panel or grill before reattaching it.

Step 5: Reassemble and Test

  • Carefully replace the back panel or grill.
  • Push the refrigerator back into place, being mindful of the floor and the appliance’s wheels.
  • Plug the refrigerator back in and listen for the sound of the motor and fan to ensure everything is running smoothly.


Cleaning your refrigerator’s condenser coils is a simple yet effective way to improve your appliance’s efficiency and longevity. By following this guide, you can ensure your refrigerator operates smoothly, keeping your food cool and your energy bills low. Regular maintenance, including coil cleaning, is essential for your fridge for optimal performance and can help avoid costly repairs or replacements in the future.

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