This Gross Stuff Is Lurking Behind Your Stove And Refrigerator

Cleaning the kitchen probably isn’t on anyone’s list of fun things to do. Nevertheless, it must be done, since the kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in our homes. Most of us make it a nightly habit to wash dishes, clean counters and tabletops, and sweep up any obvious crumbs… but what about the areas we can’t see?

Two of the most neglected areas in the kitchen are those “twilight zones” behind the stove and the refrigerator. We don’t often think to clean them. And even when we consider that maybe we should, we often rationalize: “Well, no one goes back there, so why does it matter?”

A dirty kitchen can hurt your health

Cleaning the kitchen to get rid of mold and dirt can protect your health.
Cleaning the kitchen to get rid of mold and dirt can protect your health.

Unfortunately, this line of thinking is flawed, because the gunk accumulating behind these appliances could affect your health more than you may think. Just a few things you may discover in these areas include:

  • Dirt: This may not seem like a big deal, but pets and kids can reach it, and spread it through the house.
  • Dust: If anyone in your family has allergies, not cleaning behind the stove and fridge may be exasperating them due to the presence of dust.
  • Mold: This can especially be a problem under and behind refrigerators. If the area is damp, mold can grow. While some types of mold are benign, others can be significantly hazardous to human health.
  • Bits of food: Even if you sweep your kitchen floor, your broom may not reach the crumbs and chunks that make their way under your stove and fridge. For one, this may smell (nothing quite like the scent of rotting food). For another, if you have pets, they may wrestle some of these crumbs out spread them through the house, potentially contaminating your floors with foodborne illnesses. Pets (and young kids) could also eat these food bits and get sick.
  • Pests: Speaking of food crumbs, if you have these lying on the floor underneath your appliances, they may attract insects and mice. These are critters you probably do not want running around and multiplying in your home.

Have I convinced you to clean behind the stove and fridge yet? Great! Let’s get to work!

Cleaning behind the stove

Cleaning behind the stove is important to remove old food, dust and more.
Cleaning behind the stove is important to remove old food, dust and more.

1. Taking care not to strain your back, pull the stove forward and unplug it.

2. Pull out the oven drawer, and wash it in the sink (inside and outside).

3. Sweep or vacuum behind your stove. You may need to use a cloth or old toothbrush to dislodge stuck-on food bits before you can sweep or vacuum them up.

4. Use some soapy water, vinegar and water (about half and half), or highly diluted bleach to clean the back of the stove, the wall behind the stove and the floor. Make sure to clean the oven cord if it’s dusty (just don’t get the prongs wet).

5. Make sure everything is dry before putting the stove back into its original spot and plugging it back in. Replace the oven drawer after drying thoroughly.

6. On a regular basis, make sure you’re cleaning your burners. If you have an electric stove, pull out the burners, wash them and dry them thoroughly. Use a rag or sponge to clean inside the burner areas regularly — make sure the stove is off. Along with keeping your kitchen cleaner, as a bonus, this will prevent that smoke smell that tends to set off the fire alarm.

7. Don’t forget to clean the hood over your stove. This can get really greasy really fast.

Cleaning behind the fridge

1. Using two hands and keeping your knees slightly bent, pull your fridge forward and unplug it.

2. Clean the condenser coils with a refrigerator dust brush, then use the brush attachment on your vacuum to get the loosened dust. Cleaning your refrigerator coils helps keep your fridge running well, so make sure you don’t neglect this job for too long.

3. Clean the wall behind the fridge, the floor and surrounding counters with a mixture of half vinegar, half water or a highly diluted bleach water. You can also use soapy water, if you go over the area again with clean warm water to rinse it off.

4. Allow the area behind and under your fridge to dry completely before placing the fridge back in its original spot and plugging it back in.

5. While you’re at it, don’t forget to clean your crisper and veggie drawers, along with the walls of your fridge (vinegar and water works well for this). These areas often get neglected, as well.

These kitchen cleaning jobs may not be fun, but it’s worth it for the sake of health and hygiene! To keep things from getting too gross, clean behind your stove and fridge at least once every couple of months.You’ll likely feel much better about your entire kitchen when you’re done!

— Tanya Mead

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