It doesn’t matter whether you’re a total slob or a total neat freak, chances are your home is a whole lot dirtier than you think it is. Even sparkling clean homes are usually only sparkling clean on the surface. Peel back a layer or two and disturbing amounts of dirt, grime, and gunk are revealed.

Consider your refrigerator, for instance. Pull that bad boy out from its normal position and I assure you there will be a good amount of dirt, dust, and crumbs underneath. But in the case of a refrigerator, this gunk does more than just make it dirty. It actually causes your fridge to run and cool poorly.

Take a look at the back of your refrigerator. There should be a grill covering its insides. This is where the condenser coils are housed. When these collect too much dirt and dust, they stop working properly. They can even cause your fridge to eventually break down. In fact, Family Handyman states that clogged condenser coils are the culprit behind 70% of refrigerator service calls. The website goes on to explain that calling in the pros for a fix can run you $70 or more per hour plus parts.

Luckily, it only takes five minutes four or so times a year to clean your condenser coils. Keeping these coils in tiptop shape translates to the smooth functioning of your trusty fridge. Read on below to learn how to clean your refrigerator condenser coils in three easy steps.

Tools Required

  • Screwdriver
  • Vacuum w/ Hose Attachment and Brush Attachment
  • Coil Cleaning Brush

Materials Required

  • None!

Time Required

  • 5 to 10 Minutes

Difficulty Level

  • Easy to Medium Depending on Refrigerator Model

1. Prepare Fridge for Cleaning

The absolute first step is to unplug your refrigerator from its power source. Because the area you will be cleaning has moving parts (a condenser fan) as well as electricity, you need to make sure it is powered off before starting work.

Next pull your refrigerator out from the wall so that you can access the back of it. Most new models have a protective grate along the bottom back. Remove this grate to access the inner workings of your fridge including its condenser coils. All I needed to do the job was a flathead screwdriver to remove about six screws holding the grate to the fridge.

Some refrigerators, especially older ones, don’t have a back access area. With these models, you’ll need to access the condenser coils from the bottom. This makes the cleaning process slightly harder, as you won’t be able to see what you’re doing, unless you work with a partner to have them tip the fridge so you can see underneath. Of course, you must make sure that the refrigerator is steady if you go this route, as it can be somewhat dangerous to tip a refrigerator even just a few inches off the ground. You definitely don’t want it to fall on you so use extreme caution when using this method.

2. Brush Condenser Coils

The next step is to brush the condenser coils to remove dirt, dust, and other debris. The easiest way to do this is with a refrigerator coil brush. This tool is especially handy for cleaning hard-to-clean condenser coils like those on refrigerators without back access.

Because my refrigerator has the back access to the coils, I didn’t need to invest in a refrigerator coil brush. Instead I used the brush attachment on my vacuum to gently brush the coils to loosen and remove the debris.

3. Vacuum Up Debris

Suck up the debris loosened by brushing with a vacuum hose attachment. I also vacuumed the entire area underneath and behind my refrigerator.

That’s about all there is to it. Your refrigerator condenser coils are now cleaned up. Reinstall the back grate if your fridge has one, plug it back in, and you’re set to go.

Final Thoughts on Cleaning Refrigerator Condenser Coils

Cleaning your refrigerator condenser coils is an easy home DIY project. While you’re at it, I recommend pulling out and cleaning behind your other appliances. Because I clean my condenser coils two to three times a year, this greatly improves the overall cleanliness of my home, including its air quality.