Sometimes refrigerators get moldy, even if you think you’re doing everything right. Don’t worry, it isn’t a reflection on your hygiene—sometimes mold just happens. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent mold from forming and stop it from coming back. Read on to learn the most common ways to prevent mold, along with some tips and tricks for how to get rid of it. Let’s get started!
This is the most obvious and the most important thing you can do to prevent mold. Regular cleaning is especially important if you’ve had an issue with mold in your refrigerator before—you need to make sure the problem is completely eradicated and there are no mold spores remaining, or it will likely grow back. Here are some tips for cleaning your refrigerator to help prevent mold:
- Use baking soda or vinegar. Baking soda will create an environment that is too acidic for mold to grow, while vinegar will add more acidity.
- Use a diluted solution of bleach to clean your fridge. Bleach is excellent at killing mold spores, and will prevent mold from returning. Just make sure your fridge is completely wiped clean of any bleach residue before returning your food.
- Most important of all, make sure your refrigerator is totally dry after cleaning before you restock your food. Moisture is necessary for mold growth, so the less moisture, the better!
Proper ventilation is essential for preventing mold, as it stops your fridge from getting too moist. Here are some tips for how to ensure your fridge is properly ventilated:
Leave space around the fridge
Keep at least one to two inches of space on all sides of the refrigerator to allow for adequate airflow and heat dissipation.
Clean condenser coils
Regularly clean the condenser coils (usually at the back or bottom of the fridge) using a brush or vacuum to remove dust and debris that can restrict airflow and reduce energy efficiency.
Don’t overcrowd the refrigerator with food items. Leave space between items to ensure proper air circulation and even cooling inside the fridge.
Arrange items so that they don’t block the vents inside the refrigerator. Ensure air can flow freely around shelves and drawers.
Clean vents and fans
Regularly clean the vents and fans (evaporator and condenser) to ensure they remain free of dust, debris, or ice buildup, which can impede airflow.
Proper food storage
Ensuring your food is stored properly is one of the most important ways to prevent mold. Airtight food storage prevents moisture from evaporating into your fridge’s interior. Make sure everything is sealed and covered. Here are some great storage ideas:
- Use sealed plastic containers for leftovers instead of covering bowls or plates with plastic wrap. Plastic wrap is rarely properly airtight.
- Use ziplock or snaplock bags if you want to store your food in bags. These seal well.
- Consider investing in a vacuum sealer for things that you plan to store for a while.
- Make sure you have plastic clips on hand that you can use to seal open bags, etc.
Ensure you don’t let your food get moldy
Mold spreads, and moldy food in your fridge can easily spread to the fridge’s interior. Have regular audits of your ingredients, and don’t let anything get forgotten at the back of your fridge.
Also make sure you’re aware of the expiration dates of the food in your fridge. Expired food is much more likely to go moldy.
Dry fruit and vegetables before storing
Some fruits and vegetables keep longer if stored loose in your crisper drawer. This is fine as long as you make sure that they’re perfectly dry. While it is important to wash your produce before eating it, you need to dry it carefully with paper towels or let it sit to dry on your countertop before putting it in your fridge.
Make sure your fridge is cold enough
Mold struggles to grow at very cold temperatures, so ensuring that your fridge is the right temperature can go a long way towards preventing mold. The ideal temperature range for your fridge is between 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range is cold enough to slow down mold growth and bacterial activity, while not being so cold that it causes food to freeze.
Make sure your door seals are working properly
If your door seals are not working correctly, your refrigerator is not airtight. This can lead to mold forming because moist air can enter your fridge. This is particularly true if you live in a humid or moist climate. Damaged seals also make it harder for your fridge to maintain the correct temperature.
To check your door seals:
- First, check for any visible cracking, sagging, or loose parts on the door seals.
- If they appear fine, you can further test them by placing a piece of paper in between the seals. If this holds in place and requires effort to pull out, the seals are fine. If it falls to the ground or slips out easily, the seals need to be replaced. You can test using this method all around your refrigerator door.
- If you find your seals do need replacing, you can order replacement parts online from the manufacturer.
Make sure your water filter is clean
Not all fridges have water filters, but if yours does, make sure it is clean. A clogged or contaminated filter can promote mold growth. You can check your manufacturer’s instructions for how often your water filter should be replaced, but a good rule of thumb is to replace it every six months, or after it has filtered 200-300 gallons of water.
Following the steps outlined above will ensure your fridge stays mold-free. In the case of mold, prevention is much, much easier than fixing the issue, so even if you’ve never had a mold problem, you will still benefit from these tips.