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How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

To keep your refrigerator running efficiently, clean its condenser coils at least twice a year.

These instructions are for typical coils. If you have a refrigerator with black coils mounted on the back, these coils do not require semi-annual cleaning.

With a vacuum attachment, carefully clean out dust and debris.

1Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and unplug it. (If your refrigerator has front legs used to level the appliance, push these upward and set your refrigerator on its wheels before moving it.) Or, if it’s a built-in model, turn off its circuit breaker.

2Remove the cover panel to reveal the coils and cooling fins. On most models, the kick plate or top trim plate simply lifts off. You may have to remove a few screws to remove a back cover.

3With a long, narrow nozzle on your vacuum, or a refrigerator coil brush—a special long-handled brush that looks somewhat like a bottle brush—clean out all the dust and debris. Be careful not to bend or dent the cooling fins.

4Replace the cover, and then plug the electrical cord back in or turn the circuit back on. Push the appliance back in place.

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About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m not sure a vacuum alone will really clean those coils. I moved into a house once with a 15+ year old refrigerator. It was running maybe 40 minutes out of every 60. The coils were at the bottom and were totally disgusting.. clearly had never been cleaned and the dust was more black than grey.. and copious. Anyway, I went the the 99 cent store and found an odd, rainbow-colored, dusting tool or brush. I worked it in and out of the coils and vacuumed up all the disgusting mess as I dislodged it / pulled it forward. Never would have been able to get the majority of it with just a vacuum alone. Wiped clean the coils as best I could when done. After that the fridge ran more like 20 minutes out of every 60. Lived there for several years and it was still running fine when I sold the house.

    Clean your coils, people. Save money and extend your appliance’s life.


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