When you have limited free time to clean your house, certain spots get prioritized. Areas that you see regularly—like floors, countertops, and sinks—become harder to ignore the dirtier they become. Sanitizing the hidden parts of your home may not be high on your to-do list, but they often need the most attention. The drip pan at the bottom of your fridge is a prime example.
According to Kitchn, a drip pan is a tray that catches condensation from your freezer’s defrost drain. Most of the moisture evaporates on its own, so there’s no need to wipe down this piece of equipment on a weekly basis. But even residual amounts of moisture can breed harmful microbes like mold if they’re left to sit for too long.
Most drip pans are located beneath the fridge’s doors, which makes any grime build-up hard to catch unless you look for it. Typically, you can access it by popping off the panel covering the bottom of your refrigerator. (Designs vary, so consult your owner manual first if you aren’t sure where to start.) You should see a plastic or metal receptacle on the floor of the compartment. If it’s dirty, you can lift it out of the brackets holding it upright to clean it, taking care not to spill any standing water on yourself.
Drip pans can be cleaned with regular dish soap and hot water, or a solution of bleach and water for especially nasty jobs. Even if you don’t see excess water in the receptacle, it’s still a good idea to clean it every three months or so—and if you don’t remember the last time you checked it, plan to disinfect it sooner rather than later. Here are more household chores you should be doing more often.