Refrigerators are among the dirtiest things in our kitchens. From smudges on the exterior to leftovers that have passed their prime and mysterious spills that somehow cement themselves onto the shelves—there are plenty of germs that need to be cleaned.

It's always important to clean your fridge's shelves and doors a regular basis. We recommend purging expired food and wiping down the shelves and crisper drawers before restocking your fridge with your weekly grocery haul. But even with routine cleaning, you may still notice some odor coming from your refrigerator. The culprit may be coming from a hidden spot that you've probably never noticed: the drip pan.

"What's a drip pan?" you may ask. While the exact location may vary by model, drip pans are typically located under your fridge and collect defrosted ice or condensation from the compartments that store your food. Drip pans prevent water from leaking all over your kitchen floor. However, it's up to you to empty out the pan and make sure it stays clean.

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Over time, the standing water allows a variety of germs and even mold to flourish—which may explain the stinky smell coming from the appliance. We recommend setting aside time every three months to give your fridge some TLC and clean out the drip pan. But if you've never done it before, here's how:

Step 1: Check Your Fridge Manual

The location of your drip pan will vary depending on what type of fridge you have, and some might not even be removable. The only way to find out is by checking your appliance's manual. But if you're a renter or didn't hold on to the paper copy, you can find a digital version with a quick internet search. Check the interior of your fridge for a manufacturer's sticker and google the model number. From there, you can find the location of your drip pan and see if you can remove it for cleaning.

Step 2: Clean Your Drip Pan

If your drip pan is removable, you'll either need to remove the toe kick from the front of the fridge or unscrew the back panel of the appliance. Your trusty manual will most likely offer specific instructions to help you through the process. Once you've exposed the underside of the fridge, you should easily pull out the drip pan—but make sure to do this with care. There will likely be a pool of murky, germy water that can slosh around if you're not gentle enough.

Once you've successfully excavated the drip pan, carefully pour the contents down the drain of your kitchen sink. Give the drip pan a rinse with clean water, then drain it again. Then you can hit it with cleaning products. Using either a disinfecting cleaning solution or distilled white vinegar, wipe every corner of the drip pan until it's squeaky clean. Et voila: your drip pan is clean and ready to return to its original spot.

If you cannot remove your drip pan, you can still achieve a thorough clean—it'll just require some extra work. Once you remove the toe kick or back panel, crouch down and look for the drip pan. Then, using a claw grabber or even a pair of tongs, pick up a paper towel and use it to reach in and sop up excess liquid.

Next you'll want to grab a pack of disinfecting wipes and repeat the process, replacing the wipes with fresh ones as needed, until the drip tray is clean.

Step 3: Pat Yourself On The Back

Seriously, that's it. With just a few simple steps, you've given your fridge a much needed refresh that'll last for months. Just make sure to set a reminder in 90 days to repeat the process.

Have you ever cleaned your drip pan? Let us know how it went in the comments!

Headshot of Gabby Romero
Gabby Romero
Editorial Assistant

Gabby Romero is Delish’s editorial assistant, where she writes stories about the latest TikTok trends, develops recipes, and answers any and all of your cooking-related questions. She loves eating spicy food, collecting cookbooks, and adding a mountain of Parmesan to any dish she can.