Cleaning your refrigerator is certainly not a fun task, but refrigerators take an enormous amount of abuse and can get downright disgusting. When you're embarrassed to have your guests get a beer out of the fridge, it's time to use About.com's tips to get your refrigerator so sparkling clean you'll be proud to show it off when friends visit your apartment.
First, take all the food out and throw away anything that's old or expired. The food that is still edible should be placed in an ice-packed cooler so it won't spoil during the cleaning process. Next, remove all the shelves and drawers. If they are metal or plastic, they can be washed with hot water and dishwasher soap immediately. If they're made of glass or ceramic, allow them to warm up to room temperature before you wash them or they will crack.
Wipe down the refrigerator from top to bottom with a clean cloth, hot water and dish soap or another mild cleaner. Don't forget the door! Dry the interior as well. If you had to wait to wash the shelves and drawers, clean and dry them now. Put all your food back now, organizing them by type so it will be easier to find things in the future. Wipe down any jars or food containers that are coated with sticky food residue.
Time to move on to the freezer. Follow the same steps as you used on the refrigerator. This part should go much faster because freezers don't usually get quite as yucky as fridges. Now, clean the outside of the fridge, top to bottom. Use hot water and a mild dishwashing detergent. If your fridge is stainless steel, be sure to use a soft rag and vinegar or window cleaner to get the surface shiny. Make sure to clean the rubber gasket around the edges of the door!
Periodically throughout the year, you also should check and clean the drip pan and vaccuum the refrigerator coils. To keep your fridge clean longer, clean up spills as soon as they happen and throw old food out each week. Keeping a box of baking soda in the back of the refrigerator will absorb odors.