Fridge shelves aren’t exactly the nicest things to immerse into warm, soapy water and scrub by hand, especially those shelves at the middle of the cabinet having more vertical bars than any state prison door has.

But cleaning a refrigerator shelf doesn’t have to be the cause for anyone’s misery, since the dishwasher, adjacent the oven and not far from the sink, quietly screams to have them over for a hot reviving bath.

If you got that correctly, reward yourself with a deep smirk.

The message there is quite simple:

Fridge shelves and bins are perfectly safe to put inside the dishwasher for cleaning, whether glass or plastic, or belonging to either freezer or refrigerator, and unless the manufacturer strongly claims otherwise on the product manual. Ensure shelves and bins are properly cooled prior to cleaning in the dishwasher, and plastic ones are placed only on the top rack to avoid distortion caused by heat.

Fridge shelves come in different shapes and sizes and virtually all of them are dishwasher safe but only on the top rack (for plastic), although we’d still recommend hand washing just to eliminate any possible risk of wrapping, disconfiguration and damage.

Below, we take a look at the method of cleaning fridge shelves and bins by machine and also by hand. You’ll also learn how to clean the rest of the refrigerator, when and how often, and also other items around the house that are safe to put inside the dishwasher.

Putting Fridge Shelves In The Dishwasher

Fridge shelves, mostly being low-ranking components of a refrigerator, aren’t made with the fanciest and strongest of materials. Their composition either takes one of two positions; either plastic or glass made. As such, for any shelves or bins made or coated with plastic, they become easy targets in the dishwasher by it’s torrid perimeters, because the high temperature, sometimes upwards of 60 C, can cause them to wrap or distort.

This is one of the chief reasons why some manufacturers warn against cleaning plastic fridge shelves in the dishwasher.

Glass however, would do just fine in there, even at the bottom, so long you don’t immediately place it inside the dishwasher when you take it out from the fridge. Allow it to come to room temperature first!

When we talk about plastic fridge shelves, a prominent variant immediately comes to mind, those liners at the middle having metal bars rather than a smooth formation meant to promote air circulation. These, when dirty, are nearly difficult to get cleaned by a dishwasher, and your best bet would be to soak them in a soapy water and wash them by hand!

Alright now, enough of talking, let’s actually see how we can clean fridge shelves in the dishwasher.

How To Clean Refrigerator Shelves And Bins In The Dishwasher

Prior to dishwashing any fridge shelf or bin, it’s always a good idea to scan through your product manual to see if there is any special warning issued out against dishwashing.

If yes, you want to stick with hand washing only. For instance, bins with telescopic extension slides should never be immersed into water as this could affect the operation of the slide.

For cases of misplaced manuals, check them up online and see if you can find them, and if you still can’t, then proceed with the steps below, bearing in mind that the risks are little to minimal, trust me!

  1. Bring the bins and shelves to room temperature and load them up ONLY on the top rack of the dishwasher. To bring them to room temperature, keep the shelves on the counter until they turn pretty much as warm as you palms
  2. Glass can be loaded on the bottom rack, but make sure to only do that when you’ve gone through the product manual and confirmed there isn’t any special warning issued with regards to dishwashing.
  3. Run on a normal cycle.
  4. Remove shelves and allow them to cool completely before returning back into the fridge. You may have to wipe the surface with a cloth as dishwashers are somewhat terrible at drying plastics.

And that’s it, a properly washed fridge shelf and bin using the dishwasher. One thing I must draw your attention to is the fact that the dishwasher hates anything that contains grease in it, because it has the potential to clog it and eventually cause smell.

If for some reason, your shelves have grease build up all over them, wash them manually and avoid placing them in the dishwasher.

How To Clean Fridge Shelves And Bins By Hand

When your fridge shelves are tagged not-dishwasher safe, or are too big to be accommodated inside a dishwasher like some of the Tupperware food storage containers, washing them by hand is your next bet.

Fortunately, cleaning  fridge bins and shelves by hand is quite easy and straightforward.

First, bring them to room temperature, and while you’re doing that, create a solution of warm water and a mild liquid detergent in a bucket, big bowl, or even in the bathroom tub.

Soak your bins in there, when they’re heavily soiled, for around 20 to 30 minutes, then begin scrubbing with a soft sponge. Rinse with tap water and dry properly before putting back inside the refrigerator.

Note though that there are some fridge shelves that cannot be soaked in water, for example those with telescopic extension slides. It’s always a wise idea to look for manual and go through it, or stick with cleaning without soaking.

How To Clean A Fridge

With your bins and shelves already taken care of, you want to turn attention to the interior and exterior of the fridge.

For the interior, we’ll be tackling stain and odor, whereas for the exterior, the motive will be how to make it shine and look clean.

It’s always a good idea to resort to the owners manual for how to effectively clean your model of refrigerator!

  1. Disconnect from the main power supply to avoid electrical hazard.
  2. Take a snapshot of the inside of your refrigerator, this will help greatly when you’re returning things back into the refrigerator.
  3. Empty the refrigerator from top to bottom. For perishable commodities like milk, leftover food and meat, put them inside a second refrigerator or in a cooler with ice stacked on them. For the rest of the items, keeping them in a cool place should suffice.
  4. Now gently take out all the removable accessories such as the door bins, middle shelves, freezer door bins from the fridge. Consult the owner’s manual on how to properly do so to prevent shatter.
  5. Inspect inside of the fridge for any insects and food particles and remove them.
    Prepare a solution of lukewarm water and a neutral pH cleanser. Dip a soft sponge or microfiber cloth, wring thoroughly and use it to clean the interior of the refrigerator after it warms up. For areas your soft microfiber cloth or sponge cannot reach, use a nylon toothbrush sprinkled with the solution or dipped inside of it. For odors, use a solution of one teaspoon baking soda per cup of warm water.
  6. Tackle the refrigerator gaskets and door frame with an equal solution of baking soda and dish soap. Dip a nylon toothbrush inside and use it to scrub all over the place. Once in a while, ditch the baking soda dish soap mixture and opt for 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water mixture to really tackle mold and bacteria. This is also good for tackling the mold growth that accumulates on the door seal of your dishwasher!
  7. For the exterior, the safest bet is to use warm water and a soft microfiber cloth, or a solution of vinegar, warm water and mild dish soap in the ratio 3:2:1. For stainless steel, your manufacturer might have a better recommendation, so look it up in the product manual.
  8. Now replace every item inside the refrigerator, ensuring to clean the outside of each item as you replace every item. Use the snapshot you took in the beginning if you’re finding it difficult to replace back items.

Every now and then, your condenser will accumulate dust all over it, and would require cleaning.

Either use a vacuum cleaner or a brush. When using the latter, go carefully to avoid damaging some components.

Perform the entire cleaning exercise described above every 2 to 3 months to keep your refrigerator at its best!

Meanwhile, ensure to always wipe off drips and spills the moment you notice them to prevent stains that can be hard to remove later on!

Final Thoughts

As stated above, you can put fridge shelves in the dishwasher for cleaning, but ensure they’re placed only on the top rack and not the bottom which can cause them, especially the purely plastic ones, to wrap, shrink or distort.

When washing fridge shelves in the dishwasher, ensure to bring them to room temperature first, especially for glass shelves that can shock and shatter!