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Save Money & Energy – Clean Your Refrigerator Coils!

Refrigerator Coils

It’s been awhile since I’ve humiliated myself in the name of household science….so here I go again. Just keep in mind…I would only do this for YOU! I share (my dirt), because I care. :-)

So the last several weeks our refrigerator has been making some odd noises and we keep turning the temperature down (ie. turning the dial “UP” to “Coldest”) to keep the stuff inside cold enough.

Refrigerator Coils

I actually didn’t give it much thought beyond, “Well, that is odd.”  That is until I happened to see a picture on Pinterest of someone doing something to their refrigerator I had never seen before. They were VACUUMING it! Which got me thinking about whether MY refrigerator might benefit from something similar.

Well, curiosity got the best of me and pretty soon I was down on my hands and knees, and then laying on the floor, inspecting the mysterious grill at the bottom of the fridge that I’ve never given two seconds notice before. Yep, sure enough….I had one. And by upon initial inspection…it looked like it could definitely use a little cleaning. HA! Did I say a LITTLE cleaning?

Refrigerator Coils

I popped the grill off, (which was surprisingly easy to do!) to take a closer look.


Refrigerator Coils

Dust bunnies doesn’t even come CLOSE to describing the horror that faced me! Dust MONSTERS is more like it! Trust me on this one…make sure your little ones aren’t around when you do this…they’ll have nightmares for WEEKS!

Did I mention that when the coils under your refrigerator are caked with dust or dirt like this, they can’t dissipate heat from the refrigerator, which in turn makes it work harder to keep food cool? When you consider your refrigerator gobbles up more energy than any other appliance in your home, that’s a considerable amount of energy (and money) being wasted! Just cleaning the coils can improve the energy efficiency of your refrigerator by as much as 30 percent! 

Refrigerator Coils

So I made a beeline for my new (to me) Dyson vacuum cleaner to take care of the situation. Well, of course it couldn’t be THAT simple! Oh no. Somehow the crevice cleaning accessory that came with my refurbished vacuum had mysteriously disappeared. This job REALLY required a crevice tool!

It’s a good thing my husband was taking a pre-Father’s Day nap at the time because what I did next would have horrified him. lol. Sometimes it’s best he just doesn’t know the stuff I do until he reads about it on my blog. ;-) (Hi hon!)

Refrigerator Coils

I couldn’t find the accessory for my NEW vacuum…but I did manage to find the crevice tool for my OLD one.  And it was almost a perfect fit! Almost. I figured some packing tape would fix that right up…and I’m pleased as punch to report (unlike most of my “hair-brained” ideas) it worked swimmingly! 

I quickly removed the tape with no ill effects to the vacuum at all, and the hubster was none the wiser! (Until now.)  ;-)

Refrigerator Coils

To give you and idea of how much dust was actually lurking underneath my fridge….I decided to completely empty and clean the canister of the vacuum before I started attacking it. (I will horrify you with that picture in a bit.)

Before I started vacuuming I thought it was odd that MY refrigerator didn’t have any coils like the one I’d seen in the picture on Pinterest. I figured mine must be in the back or something. lol. I am so blonde sometimes. After a couple of minutes of sucking up gunk…these shiny black rounded things began to appear.  Ahhh….there they were. :-)  They were just hiding under so much dust they were literally not visible. At all.

Refrigerator Coils

Thankfully the Dyson made quick work of all of the dust MONSTERS and here is proof positive. That was ALL clinging to the coils underneath my fridge!  I know….disgusting.

Refrigerator Coils

But thankfully my vacuum made quick work of all of it….and now all is once again right with the world underneath my fridge.

I solemnly swear….I will never allow it to get to that state again. (Yes, I was watching Harry Potter 3 when I wrote that.)

Refrigerator Coils


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Bright Ideas

  • What a brilliant idea. My fridge has been making these noises for over a year. I called a repair man for a door seal, even he couldn’t work out the reason for the noise. Today is Sunday (in Australia) and I will be getting down on knees and hopefully, the noise will gone .

  • We use a vacuum on one side and take the shop vac and put it on the blow side (one person on front and one on back of fridge–pull it out first obviously). We try to do this about every 6 mo. It makes a world of difference in the efficiency! While we have it out I do a thorough job of cleaning the back and inside too.

  • I try to clean my refrigerator coils once a month. If you don’t have the right size crevice tool, you can make one out of an empty paper towel tube. Just flatten one end of the cardboard tube and tape the other to your vacuum hose.
    Now, I need to find the easiest way to clean out the lint from my dryer duct. I’ve been told that this can be the most common cause of house fires! My son pulled out his dryer and used his ShopVac to blow out the lint (and also a bird nest!!). However, I would have to pay someone to pull out my dryer and then re-install it. Does anyone know a simpler way?

  • It is surprising what evil lurks there!! if you have pets their hair as well as dust will be under there. I use my shop vac to take care of this problem. The things we forget to do are amazing huh?!!

  • How funny. I just did this the other day. I had my crevice tool, and it made quick work of the dust monsters just inside grill. Then I noticed a lot more dust gathered BEHIND the fronts of the coils and my crevice tool wouldn’t fit in there. I’ve tried taping a paper towel cardboard tube to it in the past, but the vacuum suction just sucks it flat. This time, I went on a hunt for something better, and found a piece of clear rubber tubing about 12 inches long. I taped that to the end of the crevice tool, and it fit perfectly between the coils to suck out the other crud. Now I just worry if there’s even more at the back I couldn’t see.

  • Don’t forget about the empty, flattened paper towel roll taped to your hose for getting under the fridge for the dust bunnies.
    My attachment for the vacuum is too thick.

  • I have to admit that mine gets cleaned out about every year, but I have a brother in the HVAC business. I bribe him with cheesecake to come over and take care of mine. He knows what he is doing. He mentioned that I had my refrigerator pushed too far back so air wasn’t able to move behind it. Recommended putting a 2″x4″ flat on the floor behind so I can’t push any farther back.

  • My Dyson does not have a small enough crevice.tool. I have even tried a wooden skewer and small paint brush. I have to haul out the air compressor and blow all the crud off. Then I get to vacuum and dust.

    • What a pain! In another comment, Virginia recommends taping a flattened paper towel roll to your hose, making it more narrow! I hope that works for you :-)

      • I tried that when vacuuming the dryer.the tube kept getting sucked together. After many tries I did get it done

      • You can buy plastic tubing from hardware stores. I’m not sure about the cost, but that will definitely work better than cardboard!

      • You can always go online and order a replacement crevice tool for your cleaner…. You can find anything online nowadays!

  • There is a brush especially made to clean the coils. The repair man accidentally left his behind. I called and he said to keep it. They are very inexpensive. I have seen them in stores. Sears had them at one time and possibly WalMart. Check your local hardware store. Mine is 27″ long with the brush part being about 12″. The tip end is 4″ and a lot smaller than the rest of the brush which is about 1 3/4″ across to give you an ideal of what you will be looking for. I use my brush to loosen the crud and suck it up with the hose of my vacuum. Works great.

  • Jillee – thanks for the reminder!! Putting it on the to-do list for this weekend. I;m sure we have lots of dog hair to go along with the dust bunnies.

  • OMG – just spent half the morning on the floor and filling the vacuum with as you say crud – now I need to know how often you need to do it – I know I am thick. Thank you for this very informative site. Regards to all the ladies on the floor now.

  • Thanks, this is so important and most people don’t know about it. My old fridge also had a tray underneath that needed to be cleaned. The tray collected the water from the defrost cycle and the hot air evaporated it leaving behind crud.

  • I will be doing this for sure. I have a feeling there have been a lot of dust bunnies who have run under my fridge while I was sweeping. I know space under things can be important, but sometimes I wish everything sat directly on the floor with no way for dust and debris to work its was underneath!

  • If it wasn’t that our fridge has ice and water and
    the filter has to be replaced ever so often I would probably not think about cleaning under there. But, place the filter fits is on the grill but,it takes a lot of strength tolock it in place so I take the grill off. While I’m down there I might as well kill 2 problems with one attack.

  • I won’t go in the kitchen and clean under the fridge. It’s 11:48 p.m. I won’t, I won’t, I WON’T!

    How long could it really take? 5? 10 minutes?

    I…think I need a….

    Crud! I’m going.

  • Aaaah! I wonder if that is what ails my fridge also. It has been making some funny noises. Looks like I might have to get down on hands and knees and have a look. Thanks for that Jillee.

  • I have to say, I just wouldn’t have thought of it if I hadn’t seen it for myself!
    Thanks so much for your blog. It’s informative and entertaining. : )

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