How to Clean Behind Big Kitchen Appliances, Including the Fridge

Yikes is an understatement.

Even the cleanest home on the block still has a few dirt, dust, and grime traps. You know, those hard-to-see places where all the stuff we care not to imagine lives. Often it's out of view, but not necessarily out of mind. Lurking behind our sparkling kitchen is a dirty little secret that we just can't escape. That is, until now. It's time to clean up those not-so-pretty places once and for all to eliminate odors and discourage unwanted pests. Here's how to clean under all your big kitchen appliances—and it's not as bad as you think.

Lindsey Beatty Kitchen
Laurey W. Glenn

How Often to Clean Behind Appliances

Some major appliances, like the refrigerator, should be rolled out once or twice a year for a good cleaning underneath and behind. This is also the time to vacuum dust and debris from the coils behind the fridge. With dust-covered coils, your fridge will have to work much harder to keep food cool. This will make your energy bill go up and could even shorten the life of your fridge.

Other appliances like the dishwasher and stove typically sit close to the floor, discouraging dust and dirt from creeping underneath. The base of those appliances can be vacuumed regularly with a crevice tool. You can do the same with a washer and dryer if you have a unit in your kitchen. A range, on the other hand, tends to collect more food from daily cooking and baking. It's a good idea to clean under the range each time you deep clean your oven, every 3 to 6 months.

Of course, any spill can seep underneath an appliance. In that case, it's best to clean up right away.

What You Need

  • Gloves
  • Vacuum cleaner and attachments
  • Sponge
  • Floor cleaner
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Optional: butter knife

How To Clean Behind and Under a Refrigerator With a Vacuum and Cleaners

Before starting, turn off your ice maker if you have one. Then shut off the waterline to the refrigerator. The waterline might be in your basement, crawl space, or under the kitchen sink.

  1. Gently pull the refrigerator out far enough to unplug. Lucky you if your refrigerator is on wheels, making the process much easier.
  2. If your refrigerator has a grille in front of the condenser coils, remove it.
  3. Use the vacuum and an upholstery attachment to remove dust and debris. For hard-to-reach debris, use the vacuum's crevice tool.
  4. Spray the sides of the refrigerator and surrounding walls or cabinets with all-purpose cleaner. Use a sponge to clean off dust and food stains.
  5. Use the tip of a dull knife (a butter knife or even a cheese spreader are good options) and gently scrape off any food stuck to the floor.
  6. Vacuum the floor, then clean with a floor cleaner designed for your floor type. Allow it to dry completely.
  7. Plug the refrigerator back in and roll it back into place.
  8. Turn on the waterline and ice maker.

How To Clean Under an Oven With a Vacuum and Cleaners

It's a tricky business to pull your oven out and is a task that's best left to the professionals in most cases. We understand it's unlikely that you'll be able to remove your oven for routine cleaning, so for that reason, we're focusing on a hack method that gets the job done without requiring a professional:

  1. The easiest way to clean under your oven is a cheat method: Remove the warming drawer or storage drawer at the base of your range to gain access to the floor.
  2. Use the tip of a dull knife and gently scrape off any food stuck to the floor and in the cracks between the range and countertop.
  3. Use the extender attachment on your vacuum to clean up pet fur, dust, and crumbs from the floor under your range. Use the crevice tool to suck up any crumbs stuck between the countertop and stove.
  4. Use the appropriate floor cleaner and a sponge to wipe the area under your oven clean.
  5. In addition to cleaning under your oven, use a multi-purpose cleaner to wipe the space between your stove and countertop.

How To Clean Under a Dishwasher With a Vacuum

Your dishwasher is another appliance that will involve more than just unplugging and rolling it out of the way. If you can get away with cleaning around your dishwasher using the method outlined below, we highly recommend it. Otherwise, it's best to call in a professional or someone who has experience installing dishwashers.

  1. Many dishwashers install securely into their space, which means debris will have a hard time making its way behind the seal surrounding the machine. Use a crevice tool to suck up any dirt, grime, or crumbs wedged at the base of the appliance.

How To Clean Around the Washer and Dryer With a Vaccuum

If you have space on either side of your washing machine and dryer, use a duster attachment or a vacuum extender (with the crevice tool attached) to clear out anything between it and the dryer or the wall that might be trapped.

The kitchen is full of hard-to-reach and sometimes even harder-to-clean spaces. The trick is setting aside the time to do it. Add it to your list of seasonal to-dos and knock it out when the right time arises. We guarantee the sense of accomplishment will be well worth the effort.

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