Mold in Your Refrigerator? Here’s What To Do

mold in refrigerator

Have you taken out your humidity-controlled drawer in a while? Or have you emptied the shelves on the door? These are just a few of the places mold loves to hide in your fridge. 

Mold in your fridge can be a real headache. Unless you let the mold take over your fridge, there’s still hope because we can clean it. Keep reading to find out more about fridge mold and the best ways to clean it up.

What is Fridge Mold?

The mold that grows on your fridge is no different from the mold you may see growing in your bathroom or on a piece of deck furniture. Mold is a type of fungi that inhabits moist areas. Since your fridge stays relatively humid compared to the rest of your home, it’s a prime place for mold growth. 

If you think you see mold in your refrigerator, the first step is to properly identify that it’s mold. Most mold in your fridge will have a black or gray color with some fuzziness. Alternatively, if you keep finding a white, powdery substance in your fridge, that’s a sign of mold as well. 

What Causes Fridge Mold?

As you can probably guess, the most common origin for the mold in your fridge is rotting food. The mold spores from the rotting food spread through the ventilation system within the fridge. If you don’t throw away your moldy food fast enough, you can end up with mold in your refrigerator. 

In rare cases, the mold in your fridge won’t be from food. If this is the case, your fridge likely has a mechanical problem that causes it to not function properly. Perhaps the humidity is too high, or there’s moisture leaking from somewhere in the fridge. If you have this problem, you need to get a fridge technician to find a solution to your problem.

How to Clean Mold in the Refrigerator 

If there’s mold in your refrigerator you can remove it effectively with 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach mixed with 1 quart of hot water. Alternatively, vinegar, hot water and a washcloth is just as effective. A step-by-step guide for cleaning mold will help.

  1. Start by removing all the food from your fridge. You should wear gloves to protect your hands from this point onwards. You can save all the food that hasn’t gone bad but throw out all of the rotting food since it caused your mold. 
  2. After making either the bleach or vinegar mixture, put it into a spray bottle. Then, using the spray bottle, spray the solution on all surfaces in your fridge. You want to cover all the surfaces because you can’t see all the mold spores that may be coating the inside of your fridge. 
  3. Allow the solution to sit on the surfaces in your fridge for a minute or two. 
  4. Scrub the surfaces in your fridge with a rag, giving special attention to the areas where you noticed visible mold. After you scrub, use a clean cloth to wipe up any remaining cleaning solution.
  5. Repeat on the drawers, shelves, and fridge door. You may also see mold growth on the rubber stopper on the door. If you do, you’ll need to clean it with the vinegar solution (not bleach).

Extra Deodorizing Measures

When people want to deodorize their fridge, they mean they want an absence of smells. Usually, we need to add something to the fridge to get rid of bad smells, but this often comes with another smell.

Baking soda helps neutralize bad odors in your fridge without adding another strong scent. Aside from that, you can add vinegar or coffee grounds. Both of these items help neutralize any odors that could be coming from your fridge. They have a unique smell, though.

What’s the Best Cleaning Solution for Mold?

The best cleaning solution for mold depends on the surface you’re cleaning. For non-porous surfaces, like the plastic in your fridge, it’s fine to use a non-penetrating substance, like bleach. Mold will only grow on the surface of these materials, so you only need to clean the surface.

But some surfaces are porous, like drywall or rubber. To clean these, you’ll need something that gets inside those pores. Vinegar can get into the pores and clean mold inside and out. 

Is Mold Dangerous?

Mold can have significant negative impacts on your health. If you have asthma, mold exposure can cause an asthma attack or make your asthma symptoms worse. In children, mold exposure can bring on the symptoms of asthma, too.

There are severe reactions to mold, but these are exceedingly rare. The symptoms include severe shortness of breath and fever. If you were exposed to mold and are having these symptoms, visit a doctor right away.

Allergic Reactions to Mold

The other type of reaction to mold is an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions occur in some people because when mold spores enter their bodies, their immune systems attack the spore. That causes symptoms associated with allergies, such as:

  • Sinus Congestion
  • Asthma-like Symptoms
  • Coughing
  • Irritated Eyes 
  • Rashes

Allergic reactions to mold can be serious. Although mold isn’t known to cause anaphylaxis, it can cause other serious symptoms. That includes mold-induced asthma, allergic fungal sinusitis (severe sinus swelling), or hypersensitivity pneumonitis (lung swelling).

Preventing Mold Growth

There are three actions you can take to prevent mold growth in your fridge. First, purchase only what you know you can eat. By eating all the food in your fridge before it has the chance to go bad, you’re reducing the likelihood of any spores spreading in your fridge.

Second, you can discard any food that has gone bad. It may seem like a waste, but getting it out of your fridge is the best way to prevent mold in your fridge. For added safety, you should ensure all your food is wrapped so any mold spores don’t land in your food.

Finally, clean your fridge often. If you do big grocery shops once a week, try cleaning out your fridge before going to the store. By doing this, you’ll prevent mold growth in your fridge. And if you do see any, you’ll know how to get rid of it right away. 

FAQs

Here are a few of the most common questions we see about mold in refrigerators. 

Does Mold Grow in the Walls of the Fridge?

Yes, mold can grow within the walls, motor, water dispenser, or door of the fridge. If you suspect that your fridge has mold in its walls or its motor, cleaning won’t help. Instead, you’ll have to purchase a new fridge. 

How Much Mold Will Make Me Sick?

It depends on the person. Some people are extremely sensitive to mold, so the tiniest amount will cause a reaction. Others won’t have any symptoms at all. Your best bet is to clean mold right away if you encounter any. 

Who’s at the Greatest Risk from Mold Exposure?

Some groups of people are more likely to get sick from mold. The most sensitive group are immunocompromised people, such as those undergoing chemotherapy. Or people with pre-existing respiratory conditions, like asthma.

Finally, the elderly, pregnant women, and young children also experience the effects of mold more than most people. Elderly people and children are more likely to have serious symptoms, while pregnant women are more likely to have complications.

Final Thoughts

To summarise, mold is something you should take notice of, should you come across it in your fridge.
You should look to disinfect your fridge and get rid of any mold that may live near your food. This can be done using a bleach or vinegar solution.

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