How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

If you have a coils under your refrigerator, or on the back, it's a good idea to clean them periodically. To do this, you can use a long skinny attachment on your vacuum, and if you have one, use a refrigerator coil cleaning brush. The brush is really the only good way to get back between the coils. The vacuum alone doesn't get far enough back.

My 1997 Kenmore refrigerator manual, under "Energy Saving Ideas" says, " Periodic cleaning of the condenser will help the refrigerator run more efficiently."

And it Says, "Condenser Coils (Fan-cooled models only)
No need to clean unless operating refrigerator under particularly dusty or greasy conditions, or if there is significant pet traffic in your home"

And it Says "Condenser Coils (Air-cooled models only)
Use the dusting tool attachment on your vacuum to remove dust build-up on the condenser coils (black tubes and wires) attached to the back of air-cooled refrigerators only."

I actually cleaned the coils with a vacuum only, a few months back, but now that I have the official refrigerator cleaning brush, I thought I'd clean the coils again and ad a quick write-up.


How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

Step 1: Turn off the power to the fridge by unplugging it or turning off the circuit breaker to it, if it is hardwired. Then remove the "toe grille".

I have a "toe grille" on the bottom of my fridge. To remove it, mine just pulls off. I think most like this do.

Here are the coils before cleaning. The coils dissipate heat to cool your refrigerator. The cleaner they are, the easier it is for them to do their job.

Here's my new refrigerator coil cleaning brush. I bought it from AM Conservation Group, online for $5.99. They claim that refrigerators account for up to 8% of your electric bill and that regular cleaning of dusty refrigerator coils can improve refrigerator efficiency up to 30%. I don't know that I believe that, but it can't hurt to try it.

Step 2: Brush and Vacuum

It's a dusty job, so use a vacuum along side of the cleaning brush to keep the dust down. It's also useful for cleaning the brush off as you go.

Step 3: Replace the Toe Grille (clean it first) then Restore Power to the Fridge. Done!

Other Tips for Refrigerator Energy Efficiency:
1. Check to see if it makes sense to replace your older, less efficient refrigerator, with a newer energy efficient one. Visit this link to calculate your current energy usage and what a new one would use.
2. Place the ridge in an area of the room away from direct sunlight, heating ducts, ranges, ovens, dishwashers and other heat producing appliances. If you can't do that, install an added layer of rigid foam insulation between the two appliances.
3. Level the fridge so the door closes tightly
4. Test the seal by running a piece of paper around the seal, should hold the paper in place
5. Use the manufacturers recommended temperatures
6. Do not overcrowd the refrigerator or block the cold air vents inside
7. Cover foods and wipe containers dry before storing to cuts down on moisture build-up
8. Remove as many items as needed at one time, and close the door as soon as possible.
9. Keep the freezer full. Fill plastic bottles with water if needed.

Energy Star: Information on Energy Efficient Refrigerators and Freezers
Energy Star: Refrigerator Energy Usage Calculator
Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings: Book on Amazon
The Family Handyman: Keep Your Refrigerator Humming: Refrigerator Maintenance

AM Conservation Group: Refrigerator Coil Cleaning Brush Refrigerator Coil Brush

My Standard Disclaimer: This is what I did. This does not mean this is the best way, the right way, to building code, or even safe for your needs. So you are on your own with your project. I make no promises about the information presented here. I'm just a do-it-yourselfer, not a professional at all, sharing my story. So if something goes wrong with your project, you are on your own. Good luck, and have fun!

All content and photos, copyright 2009, Dover Projects
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  1. Excellent blog. I actually just started something similar, but that was before I discovered yours. I'll keep mine going anyway! I might end up cross-linking with your stories, where appropriate. Thanks for the source for the coil cleaner.

  2. Yeah, I saw a visitor coming from your site to mine, via a link to the air seal dryer vent. Keep up the good work on your blog. I also had an energy audit, and have been planning an article for the thermal house images, and blower door test, etc. I've not gotten around to posting them yet. Welcome... the more the merrier.--Peter

  3. NEW!!! DOVER PROJECTS ON FACEBOOK! Join in with your DIY spirit! Click on the BIG blue box for "Facebook, Dover Projects" in the right column above! See you there!--Peter

  4. Yo Peter, Happy Holidays : and you have some great stuff in here, This is something people need to know and do in our daily lifes in our home, once again Thank you :) best wishes

  5. Hi Peter,
    Thanks for the tips on making my own radiator reflector.

    What is the best way to insulate an attic. I am trying to do it myself....My concern is "how much space is recommended between the attic floor and the roof.

  6. I'm glad I found this. I have to move out of my townhouse in 3 weeks and I have to do a deep clean (including the refrigerator) soon. Thanks for the instructions!

  7. i never knew cleaning the coils on the refrigerator would save money thank for the tips.


Please leave your questions or comments here. I love to get feedback. You can do so without an account or user names and passwords, etc. Just select "Anonymous" next to "comment as". Thanks!--Peter