Let’s take a break from design this month and expand on one of our Tips from Tom: MAINTENANCE.  You know, those honey-do list items that we tend to find something else better to do before getting to them!   


Did you know that giving your fridge a deep clean can help reduce wear and tear on your refrigerator? Many people are concerned with organization of their closets, garages, kitchen cabinets, etc., yet many don’t think about the refrigerator.  The poor refrigerator . . . the one appliance that when it’s not working right becomes the biggest headache. It’s never fun to go looking for your favorite snack only to find the refrigerator quit some time last night and your ice cream is now a carton of liquid.

It also ensures that you’re keeping an eye on those expiration dates. How many of you have pulled out a random salad dressing only to find the use by date somewhere in the distant past? (Please raise your hand now.) 



While this is pretty much common sense, below is a handy checklist to help you knock one of those honey-dos off the list: 


  • Pull your refrigerator forward if needed to be able to swing the doors completely open.  This will be required to get the largest of the drawers and shelves out.  Be sure to pull the refrigerator straight out.  Do not move the refrigerator in a side direction as it may damage the floor covering or the refrigerator.


  • Remove everything from both freezer and refrigerator, being sure to take out all food containers and any removable elements, including drawers and shelves. 


  • Throw away and food containers or items that are expired or old.  Scrub containers that have stains or spills using soap and water and then disinfect them with wipes or cleaning sprays with cloth or paper towels.  (I prefer paper towels – less laundry!) 


  • Wash the refrigerator and freezer shelves and drawers in warm soapy water to remove spilled foods.  Then use a disinfectant spray cleaner to ensure they are germ free.  Dry thoroughly prior to reinstalling. 


  • Clean your water and ice dispenser:
    • Dispenser spill shelf:The ice dispenser spill shelf should be wiped dry immediately to prevent spotting if excessive spills occur. Water left on the shelf may leave deposits. On models with a grill tray, try placing a paper towel under the grill to help absorb the water.
    • To remove deposits:
      • soak the area with one of the following solutions: 
        • Undiluted vinegar 
        • Mixture of 1 teaspoon of citric acid powder (NOT to be used in stainless steel dispensers) per 1 pint of hot tap water. 
      • Soak until the deposit disappears or becomes loose enough to wipe away. Usually 30 minutes of soaking time is adequate. 
    • Dispenser body, lever and ice chute:
      • The ice chute can be cleaned with mild soap and water and a soft cloth. Make sure the chute is dry after cleaning to prevent ice from building up and blocking the ice flow down the chute. The area behind the glass cradle or pad can be wiped clean with vinegar and water or a mild soap and water solution.
      • Note: The water tube that provides water from the dispenser does not require routine maintenance or cleaning. Should the need arise to clean the water tube, service is recommended. 
    • Soft Touch Dispenser Pad (on models so equipped):
      • The soft touch dispenser pad can be peeled off the back of the dispenser area and washed in the sink with warm water and soap, or a warm water and baking soda solution (about a tablespoon of baking soda to a quart of water.) Rinse thoroughly and dry. 
      • To remove pad: 
        • Open the freezer door while removing the dispenser pad so as not to activate the dispenser. 
        • Simply grab either the top left or right corner of the pad and pull down. It will pull off easily. 
        • There is a small lip on the back of the pad that simply tucks back into the dispenser when you have finished cleaning it. 


  • Using a vacuum hose or a long-handled duster, clean underneath the refrigerator. Got pets? You may want to pull the refrigerator out from the wall further so you can access the space behind and get those little fur bunnies that seem to collect back there. 


  • Wipe the exterior and don’t forget the top.  (Tall people can see the top!) 


  • Once the exterior is done, open those doors wide again and reinstall the drawers and shelves.  Now is also a good time to think about how those shelves have been set up.  Can you adjust them for better organization? 


  • Finally, carefully push the refrigerator straight back, making sure you don’t roll over the power cord or ice-maker supply line. 


Bonus tip: how to clean stainless steel 

Many people have their little tricks and favorite products to clean stainless steel.  Here are some recommendations from GE on the best way to keep your stainless steel looking like new! 

Stainless steel has some unique cleaning characteristics. To keep your appliance looking like new, we recommend cleaning it with one of the following options. 


General cleaning: 

  • For regular daily maintenance: Use mild soap (dish soap) and water. 
  • Cerama Bryte stainless steel appliance cleaner on stainless steel exteriors or interiors.  
  • Citrushine Stainless Steel Wipes, removes fingerprints, de-greases, and shines without streaking.  
  • For heavy soils: Use a paste of baking soda and water while rubbing with a soft cloth. 
  • Do not use appliance wax, polish, bleach, steel wool, abrasives, ammonia, acids, or commercial oven cleaners. 


Other cleaning suggestions: 

  • For appliances previously cleaned with a mineral oil-based stainless cleaner: Before using the Cerama Bryte stainless steel appliance cleaner, wash the surface with dish soap and water to remove oily residue. Then use a generous amount of Cerama Bryte stainless steel appliance cleaner to clean the appliance. (Future cleanings require only the normal amount of Cerama Bryte .) 
  • For rust, tarnish, and small blemishes: Cleaners that contain Oxalic Acid, such as Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser, will remove rust, tarnish, and small blemishes. Use only the liquid cleanser (free of grit) and be sure rub in the direction of the metal grain lines with a damp soft sponge. 
  • For discoloration: Use a stainless steel cleaner and polish in the direction of the brush marks with a soft sponge per the User’s Manual. Do not use an abrasive ‘green’ scrub pad, as that can scratch the surface. This should remove the discoloration. Rinse cook-top surface well with water. 




Abbey Roloff

Vice President, Design & Construction

SandStar Remodeling & Interiors