Do you know a good way to grow some mold in a refrigerator?  Here are 3 easy steps:

1. Turn off a refrigerator.

2. Leave the door closed.

3. Wait a few weeks.

See the attached photos. A great environment for mold to grow has been created-  no air circulating, mild temperature and plenty of moisture so mold can grow on plastic or residual food.

Mold in refrigerator

 

When this happens how do I fix it?

The most certain method is to replace the refrigerator.

Here is a cleaning procedure I have tried and it did work. 

If you have a sensitive individual at home, do not attempt the cleaning. You need a new fridge. Sensitive individuals include those with compromised immune systems, allergies or asthma.

There is no guarantee that mold growth will not return but you have a fair chance of success if the mold has not gone too far. Bacteria should also be reduced by the cleaning but never eliminated completely.

 

1. Take out the movable shelves, bins, drawers and anything else that can be removed. 

2. Clean the movable parts and refrigerator surfaces with some detergent and baking soda dissolved in water. Be careful to wear some goggles to protect the eyes because baking soda is an irritant and molds can enter your body through the eyes. Also wear rubber gloves.  Use good quality disposable paper towels with wet strength and a stiff brush. Dispose of the towels in a plastic garbage bag and seal the bag when done.

3. Rinse with water, wipe dry with the paper towels and allow to dry in the open air.

4. Place some baking soda in flat dishes on the refrigerator shelves.

5. Close the door(s) and run the refrigerator at the least cold setting for at least 5 days. Inspect very carefully to make sure the mold growth has not returned and the surfaces are dry.

6. Return the unit to the normal temperature setting. Verify the temperature in the freezer and refrigerator according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Replace the dishes of baking soda with some opened boxes of baking soda . Replace them if they get wet.

8. Make sure you keep all food and beverage containers sealed.

 

Does this cleaning kill mold?

It is not intended to kill mold, just remove it. Mold is very hard to kill and requires special EPA/DEEP registered chemicals.

 

Why do we use baking soda?

Baking soda is alkaline, not toxic and a good cleaning agent. Most  molds would rather be in an acid environment so any residuals of baking soda would not encourage more mold growth. Baking soda in powder form also helps clean the air as the air circulates through the unit.

 

Do not use chlorine bleach or cleansers with chlorine

Chlorine bleach will usually roughen or etch the surface and make it easier for new mold to grow.

 

What about Bacteria?

Stagnant and moist conditions that favor mold growth can also promote bacterial growth. Your best defense is to keep the unit clean and dry when shut down and at the proper working temperature. The cold  will slow down the bacterial growth.

 

What if I prop the door open when I shut down a refrigerator?

The chance of mold growing is slim compared to leaving the door closed. It is also important that the unit is clean and dry.

 

Ron Arena

Chem Scope

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2 Responses to Mold in the Refrigerator… What To Do?

  1. Mildew usually wreaks havoc on bathroom tiles, closets, basement walls and exterior walls.
    If it’s something like a flood there is no small repair for the
    floor. It is best to have a professional service in to survey the area and give advice before cleaning is attempted.

  2. Anne says:

    We accidentally left a refrigerator closed for two weeks in hot garage. some mold formed on surfaces which we were able to wipe off but I’m concerned about mold in the tubing for the ice maker or anything concerning the water supply. Can anything be done?. Was giving it to family members and don’t want them to get sick….one young child.

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