These illustrated step-by-step techniques show you how to keep your refrigerator running efficiently by easily cleaning its condenser coils.

During a refrigerator’s cooling process, room air travels across refrigerant-filled tubing called the “coils” or “condenser coil” where heat is given off. Over time, dust from this flow of the room air collects on the coils. As the dust builds up, the coils become less effective at doing their job.

It’s important to clean the coils a couple of times each year to keep your refrigerator running efficiently and dependably. This is a relatively easy job, as explained below.

These instructions are for typical coils located behind a panel at the top or the base of the refrigerator. If you have a refrigerator with black coils mounted on the back, be advised that these coils do not require semi-annual cleaning.


Cleaning Refrigerator Coils, Step by Step

1 Unplug your refrigerator or turn it off at the circuit breaker that delivers electrical power to it.

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2 Remove the cover panel to reveal the coils and cooling fins. On most models, the kick plate or top trim plate simply lifts off.

removing cover panel
Remove the panel that covers the coils by lifting and pulling outward. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

3 With a long, narrow nozzle on your vacuum and the help of 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. You can buy a coil brush at a hardware store for about $10.

vacuuming refrigerator coils
Use a long, flat crevice tool on your vacuum to clean the coils and interior surfaces. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

4 Holding the crevice tool flat, slide it between the coils, cleaning as thoroughly as possible. Wipe dust from surfaces with a rag.

vacuuming coils
Use a long, flat crevice tool on your vacuum to clean the coils and interior surfaces. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips


cleaning refrigerator coils
Slide the crevice tool between the coils to clean thoroughly. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

5 Replace the cover, and then plug the refrigerator’s electrical cord back in or turn the circuit back on.

replace refrigerator panel
Replace the cover panel and restore power to the refrigerator. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips


Refrigerator Cleaning Video

This helpful video shows how to clean the coils of a refrigerator where the coils are located at the bottom:

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort