The Grossest Part of Your Refrigerator (and How to Clean It)

Photo:  nimito (Shutterstock)
Photo: nimito (Shutterstock)

Keeping your refrigerator clean is easy when there are obvious spills or food bits or expired items front and center on shelves and in drawers.

But the inside of your fridge isn’t actually the grossest part—that’s probably the drip pan, which is hidden underneath your fridge, where it collects condensation from the defrost drain. If the water doesn’t evaporate as quickly as it collects, it can overflow and damage to your fridge or the floor beneath it, or allow mold or bacteria to grow.

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A little bit of standing water in your drip pan is fine, but if it fills up and needs to be emptied often, your fridge may be malfunctioning. Here’s how to clean your refrigerator drip pan.

How to find your refrigerator drip pan

Every refrigerator is a bit different, so check your manual if you still have it. If not, you’ll usually get access to the drip pan through a panel at the bottom of the fridge. Often the panel is on the front, but if not, move the fridge away from the wall and pull it off the back.

Turn off the water and unplug your appliance before pulling anything out to avoid leaks or electrical issues.

If the drip pan isn’t obvious, look for the drain line and drain opening. Use caution pulling the pan out so you don’t spill any water that’s collected.

How to clean a drip pan

If there’s water in the pan, empty it out in the sink. Warm water and dish soap is one option for cleaning, but if you want something stronger, or if there’s mold or odor, mix a solution of one part bleach or vinegar to two parts water and, while wearing gloves, pour into the pan. Allow it to soak, then scrub the surface and rinse. Let the pan dry before replacing it beneath the fridge.

In the event your drip pan can’t be removed, you can use an antibacterial wipe or soaked rag to wipe it down.

If mold is an issue, you can also leave a small amount of a bleach or vinegar solution (to equal part water) in the pan when you put it back underneath the drain.

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