How I Saved Money This Month: Cleaning Refrigerator Coils

Updated: Feb. 25, 2022

The smartest thing you can do for your fridge is to keep the coils clean. It cuts electricity bills and repair bills.

Clean refrigerator coils

Clean refrigerator coils and save money. All it takes is a vacuum, a brush and 15 minutes. Coils are usually beneath the fridge and accessible from the front. But some — like the ones here — are hidden behind a cover plate in back.

Over the years, I’ve heard that a dozen times from a dozen appliance experts. Here’s why: The coils’ job is to dissipate the heat that’s removed from the fridge. But gradually, dust blankets the coils, so the fridge has to work harder to shed heat. That means higher electricity bills; I’ve heard estimates as high as $10 per month in wasted energy. Dirty coils also increase your odds of breakdowns.

So last weekend, I finally gave my 8-year-old fridge its first coil cleaning. It didn’t begin well; I couldn’t even find the coils at first. They weren’t under the fridge where I expected them to be, and they weren’t on the back either. So I pulled out the fridge and removed and unscrewed a cover plate. Bingo. From there on, it was a simple matter of sucking up dust with a vacuum. A bendable dryer vent brush ($6 at my local home center) grabbed the dust that the vacuum couldn’t reach. Overall, it was a 15-minute job with a huge payoff.

Manufacturers recommend cleaning coils twice a year. I can’t promise I’ll do that, but now that I know how quick and easy it is, I won’t wait another eight years either.

— Gary Wentz, Senior Editor

DIY Refrigerator Maintenance Projects:

How to repair a refrigerator

How to avoid refrigerator repairs

How to run a water line to your fridge