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mold found in refrigerator

Refrigerator Mold Prevention and Mildew Hacks

There are some things we might delight seeing mold grow on, like expensive cheeses or the outer layer of hard salami, but for the most part, we don’t want to spot any sight of mold in our refrigerators. 

Refrigerators are an integral part of any home but one that is rarely cared for in the right way, with mold growth being one of the most serious consequences.

Mold has the potential to cause a lot of problems, with the most worrying being those related to our health and well being.

Mold in a refrigerator is dangerous for our health, mainly due to the growth of mycotoxins that occurs on produce, which can be poisonous to humans and have been shown to cause cancer in some cases.

In addition to being dangerous, mold is unsightly, unclean, and smells unpleasant, especially in somewhere with as little ventilation as the fridge. The conditions inside of a fridge are perfect for the growth of mold because there’s not much natural light, very little airflow, and lots of moisture sealed inside of it.

As the place where we store our food and feed our families from, the refrigerator is the last place we want to see mold growing. 

With a few preventative measures and the right methods for cleaning, you can ensure the mold doesn’t return to your fridge so you can have peace of mind that your food remains safe. 

Table of Contents

Why Do I Have Mold Growing Inside My Fridge?

Mouldy Fridge

Opening your refrigerator and seeing signs of mold can be alarming for anyone, but why is it that it’s started to grow in this kitchen appliance?

You might first notice mold on food in the fridge or perhaps dark stains beginning in one compartment, or even get a whiff of the unmistakable and unpleasant odor that mold is known for.

Mold is a fungus that grows very quickly and can be extremely resilient, especially when it comes to the items stored in our fridge.

Despite people assuming that mold grows in hot or humid climates, it can tolerate cold environments like that inside of the fridge, as long as there is moisture for it to latch onto and somewhere for it to spread.

The dark conditions of the fridge are also conducive to mold growth, so it’s the ideal place for it to live.

This fungus acts as a plant with roots which can easily spread itself through areas quickly, attaching onto anything it comes into contact with.

Even if you can’t see the growth of mold so obviously it’s likely still there, and when contained in somewhere small and unventilated like a refrigerator there’s a good chance that’s been spread further.

Having a refrigerator with old or spoiled food, one that has broken seals and parts, or simply not cleaning and caring for the appliance can all contribute to mold growth in the refrigerator.

Anytime that mold has began to grow, it can be notoriously hard to get rid of. And, preventing mold growth from taking hold is just as important as the treatment process.

How to Prevent Mold Growth in Your Fridge

There isn’t a lot you can do once you spot mold growing in the fridge, but knowing how to prevent it in the future after it’s been cleaned will save you from ever having to do it again. 

This large appliance is a favorite for mold and there are plenty of factors inside of the fridge that make it the perfect environment for growth.

Therefore, you should take these preventive measures to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Fridge Maintenance and Repairs

Sometimes mold is able to spread or grow faster due to an issue with the fridge itself.

Perform a regular check on your fridge to make sure nothing is leaking and that the seals are all working, as both of these can lead to mold. Tackle any repairs that need to be done with urgency.

Clean Your Fridge Regularly

Many people leave the cleaning of their fridge to a once a year event or only when they notice that it’s dirty and full of mold.

Experts suggest cleaning your fridge out once a year with a simple wipe down of the shelves using warm, soapy water and then dry off thoroughly.

In addition to the main shelves, you should tackle cleaning the seals, the dry crisper’s, and other compartments with a quick wipe down as well.

Sometimes mold is able to spread or grow faster due to an issue with the fridge itself.

Perform a regular check on your fridge to make sure nothing is leaking and that the seals are all working, as both of these can lead to mold. Tackle any repairs that need to be done with urgency.

Keep the Interior of Your Fridge Dry

Mold loves moisture and without it, it’ll find it very hard to grow.

The fridge is a naturally cool and moist place so removing all of the moisture would be near impossible, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best to keep it dry.

Use a paper towel to wipe down shelves and compartments regularly and take care of spills or condensation that could lead to mold growth.

Proper Food Storage is Key

Fruits and vegetables are some of the worst offenders when it comes to mold growth in the fridge and they should be kept dry and fresh at all times.

Just storing them inside of the fridge can attract mold, and especially if they’re left in the packets or containers that they were purchased in because there is already moisture present.

Airtight Containers

Any food that’s not already stored in packaging or an airtight container should be moved to one. Even if you do get mold growth in the fridge the food will be sealed tight and not able to reach it.

DIY Mold Prevention for Refrigerator

There are plenty of home remedies you can try for keeping mold out of the fridge, including placing a scoop of baking soda into a sock and leaving it on a shelf or in the vegetable crisper.

This helps to neutralize odors and prevent mold from growing and it’s cheap and easy to do.

Simple Steps for Cleaning Mold from the Fridge Interior

Simple Steps for Cleaning Mold from the Fridge Interior

Once you’ve spotted mold in your fridge you might start to panic, due to the fact that this fungus is known for its resilience.

Cleaning mold from the fridge can be a big job but when done right, it shouldn’t have to be repeated.

Follow these steps to give your fridge a deep clean without the need for harsh chemicals.

  • Consider turning the fridge off if you think it might help with the cleaning process, but only if you have somewhere to store the food. Even a small amount of time without refrigeration can spoil food, so move it to a cooler bag or another fridge or freezer to prevent this.
  • Remove all of the food items from the refrigerator and check them to see what needs to be thrown out. Anything that looks visibly spoiled should be discarded, items that are past their expiration date, as well as anything you’re unsure about. Wipe down or clean any containers or packages you plan on returning to the fridge.
  • Place a quart of warm water with one tablespoon of baking soda into a bucket and mix. Using a cloth, wipe down all areas of the fridge including the ceiling, walls, frame, door, floor, and shelves. When you finish one area, dip the cloth into the baking soda solution again and wring out.
  • Empty the bucket with the dirty baking soda solution and rinse it out before filling with fresh water. Get a new cloth and dip it into the clean water and then wipe down all areas that you previously cleaned. This will remove the baking soda mixture from the fridge parts and prevent it from corroding or doing damage.
  • Take a dry cloth or paper towel and wipe down all sections of the fridge once they’ve been rinsed with water. Place a refrigerator deodorizer or homemade solution to help remove moisture and neutralize the mold odors left behind in the fridge. Place all of the clean items and food back into their shelves.

When done correctly, you should only have to do this deep clean once to remove mold and get rid of the smell.

Baking soda is especially effective because it is a naturally occurring fungicide that targets mold, but it also neutralizes odors and cleans deeply without having to use any harsh chemicals.

Cleaning Mold From Refrigerator Parts

Cleaning Mold From Refrigerator Parts

To perform an even deeper clean of the fridge there are other parts that you might want to tackle.

When you’ve spotted mold on the inside of the fridge or in compartments, there’s a good chance that it’s spread elsewhere, so check out these areas and give them a clean using the natural power of vinegar.

Clean Ice Dispenser

An ice or water dispenser is the most moisture-rich part of the fridge and often the cause of a moldy smell.

Clean out the dispenser with a mixture of vinegar and water, and use a cotton swab to clean out the tubes, faucet, and any other smaller parts connected to it. Run fresh water through it when the job is done.

Water Line Mold Prevention

The water and ice supply line of the fridge is susceptible to mold growth and buildup and needs to be cleaned regularly.

Turn the fridge off and remove the water reservoir and lines before flushing them out with a vinegar and water solution. Flush them with fresh water when done.

Clean Food Containers Regularly

Anything you store in your fridge needs to be cleaned of mold as well, including Tupperware containers.

Dispose of the contents of any moldy containers and fill them with vinegar, place the airtight lid back on, and leave them to sit for a few days. Once done, clean them thoroughly in warm soapy water and dry off before using again.

Keep Refrigerator Seals Clean

The seals of a fridge are responsible for keeping it cool and fresh inside, but they can also be one of the most susceptible areas for mold.

Use a toothbrush to clean inside the seals and their cracks, and if you notice any damaged ones then notify a professional to fix it immediately.

How to Kill the Mold Smell In Your Fridge

How to Kill the Mold Smell In Your Fridge

Even after the mold has been removed you might notice the smell still lingering. This is completely normal and doesn’t necessarily mean there’s still mold left behind. However, as an unpleasant odor, you’ll want to do what you can to get rid of it.

To kill the mold smell in your fridge, place an open container of baking soda inside the fridge. Leave the baking soda in place for at least 24 hours so it can absorb the smell and neutralize odors.

If the smell remains, spread a layer of freshly ground coffee beans onto a plate and leave it to sit on a shelf for 24 hours. With both of these methods, you should be able to remove the smell of mold naturally and without chemicals.

Keeping Your Fridge Healthy and Mold Free

Finding mold around the home is never pleasant, but it can be the most terrifying when we see it growing inside of our fridge. Due to the ideal conditions of darkness and dampness that occur inside a refrigerator, mold can grow a lot more easily than you might think.

Prevention is the best cure for mold in the refrigerator so keeping it clean, dry and free from spoiled food is the easiest approach.

If you do find that mold has began to grow you can perform a deep clean with natural agents like baking soda to effectively remove it and neutralize odors, without having to rely on harsh and poisonous chemicals.  

Mold is not only unsightly and unpleasant to smell but it comes with serious health consequences.

The smallest trace of mold in your fridge could be hiding something far worse, so you need to take care of this important kitchen appliance and the potential health hazards it could be harboring.