How to Find and Clean Your Refrigerator Drip Pan

by Team HomeServe
the back of a newer GE refrigerator shows the condenser cover removed and the condensate drip pan is underneath the coils circled in red.

If you've spent ages scrubbing your fridge but can't get rid of stubborn odors, your drip pan may be the culprit. Refrigerator drip pans sit concealed at the bottom of the fridge, so it's hardly surprising that many people forget to clean them. Removing mold and dirt from your drip pan can get everything smelling fresh again.

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It's easy to access and clean a refrigerator drip pan if you know what you're doing. Here's how to locate and remove your refrigerator drip pan and get it clean.

What Is a Refrigerator Drip Pan?

As your freezer operates, it produces condensation. The refrigerator drip pan collects water as it comes out of the defrost drain. Usually, this water evaporates into the air. Accessing the drip pan may be necessary if you need to empty or clean it. You may also need to remove the refrigerator drip pan to repair or replace it.

How Much Water Should Be In the Refrigerator Drip Pan?

Refrigerator drip pans often stay dry because the water can evaporate at the same rate as produced from the defrost drain. However, you may notice a small amount of standing water in your drip pan from time to time. This isn't usually a problem if your fridge is working properly. However, if you constantly need to empty your drip pan or it overflows, it could be a sign of a problem with your fridge. In that case, it's a good idea to call a professional to diagnose the issue.

Where Is the Refrigerator Drip Pan?

Accessing a refrigerator drip pan is quick if you know where to look. Although individual fridge models vary, the drip pan is almost always located at the bottom of the appliance to allow gravity to drain wastewater away.

If you have the manual that came with your appliance when you bought it, check to see if it explains how to locate the drip pan. If not, try taking the kick panel off the front of your refrigerator by tilting it and then pulling it out.

Your refrigerator drip pan will most likely be concealed behind the kick panel. If you have a front-access drip pan, you can pull it out. Otherwise, move the refrigerator out from the wall to see if you can access it from the back. It's a good idea to turn off the water supply to the refrigerator to stop it from leaking while you find the drip pan. Switch the electricity supply off at the main if you need to pull your fridge out to avoid electrocuting yourself.

If you can't find the drip pan, get a flashlight and try to find the defrost drain line. Follow it downwards until you find the drain opening. The drip pan is located underneath the opening to catch the water.

Take care when sliding the pan out because it will probably contain some standing water. You can then pour the water down the sink before you clean the refrigerator drip pan.

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Removable Drip Pans

You can clean a removable drip pan using a household bleach solution. Use one part bleach to two parts water, and mix it thoroughly before applying it to the pan. Leave the bleach on the surface for a few minutes before scrubbing any dirt away and rinsing it with water.

If your drip pan is moldy or smells unpleasant, you can leave the bleach solution on for longer. This will help remove stubborn mold and kill any bacteria causing the odor.

Dry your drip pan thoroughly before replacing it. You can wipe away any leftover water using a kitchen towel or allow it to dry naturally on the draining board.

Bleach can alter the color and appearance of a drip pan if it's not white. As it sits concealed under your refrigerator, this shouldn't cause a problem and won't damage it. However, you can use vinegar instead of bleach if you prefer not to use harsh chemicals.

Non-Removable Drip Pans

Some fridges have non-removable drip pans, but they're not as common as removable ones. Non-removable pans are harder to empty and clean, and one of the easiest ways to scrub them is to use a wipe or cloth attached to a claw grabber.

You can use an antibacterial cleaning wipe or a cloth soaked in cleaning fluid to clean a non-removable drip pan. Open the grabber's claw, place the cloth or wipe inside and reapply the grip to hold it securely in place.

Next, manipulate the claw grabber inside the drip pan to wipe up any dirt or residue. You may need to access the drip pan from the front and back of the refrigerator to reach the entire surface. It's important to be gentle when you're scrubbing a non-removable drip pan to avoid damaging any of the nearby components.

Check the wipe or cloth regularly and replace it with a clean one if it gets dirty. Once you've finished cleaning your refrigerator drip pan, replace the kick panel. If you moved the refrigerator to access the back, switch the water and electricity back on and slide the fridge back into its original position.

Why Does My Refrigerator Drip Pan Smell?

Refrigerator drip pans can get smelly if bacteria or mold builds up inside. Drip pans are a good breeding ground for germs because they are moist environments. You can stop your refrigerator drip pan from getting stinky again after you've finished cleaning it by pouring in a small amount of a solution made from equal parts vinegar or bleach to water and leaving it inside to kill germs.