7 Ways to Clean Behind and Under Every Appliance

These tricks and tools can save you from having to move heavy appliances to keep a clean and healthy home.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
ways to clean behind and under every appliance - person standing with cleaning supplies


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Keeping up with household cleaning tasks can be, well, a real chore. As if it weren’t enough that you occasionally have to clean inside your refrigerator, dishwasher, range, washing machine, and dryer, you really should also be cleaning underneath and behind them. When too much dust and debris collects around these appliances, their performance can suffer. For example, if the coils on the fridge become too dusty or dirty, the fridge may have to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.

As a general rule, aim to clean under your major appliances at least twice a year, or any time something spills. For the fridge and range, where crumbs are more likely to accumulate, plan for three or four cleaning sessions each year, or about every 3 months. As all of these appliances are heavy and cumbersome to move, you’ll need some strategies for cleaning under and behind them without having to drag them away from the wall. To make this regular chore a little easier, here’s a roundup of some of the best tools and cleaning hacks for dealing with those tough-to-reach places.

RELATED: How to Make Every Appliance in Your Home Last Longer and Run More Efficiently

1. Microfiber Gap Duster

ways to clean behind and under every appliance - microfiber gap duster on cabinet

Microfiber gap dusters—like this flat duster with an extendable pole at Amazon—feature a thin and flexible head. The thin head slides easily under many different appliances, and because it can bend, you can maneuver it into the best angle to push out crumbs and other grime. As well, microfiber is an excellent material to use for cleaning. Its tiny fibers create more surface area for dirt to cling to, and the fabric is incredibly absorbent. It’s positively charged, so it attracts negatively charged dust and debris, allowing you to get even more gunk out from under your appliances. Once you’ve finished the cleaning tasks, simply remove the microfiber cover and toss it in the washing machine to clean.

RELATED: How To Clean Every Appliance in Your Home

2. Flat Vacuum Tool

ways to clean behind and under every appliance - woman using flat vacuum tool under fridge

You know that there are all sorts of crumbs under your stove and refrigerator, but you just can’t reach them with your vacuum. Or can you? This 36-inch-long vacuum extension attachment at Amazon, offers a solution. It has a very flat (½-inch-tall) head that can slide under appliances and into other challenging-to-reach places. Dual openings—a long flat opening along the bottom and a smaller opening at the end of the tool—let it suck up dirt both below and in front of it, allowing for more thorough cleaning. The tool is compatible with a range of vacuum hoses, making it a relatively inexpensive investment with a lot of promise.

RELATED: Suck It Up: 11 Vacuum Attachments You Should Own (and How to Use Them)

3. Yardstick and Sock

ways to clean behind and under every appliance - woman holding pair of socks

If you don’t want to spend money on a special cleaning tool or are feeling really motivated to get cleaning right away, you probably have something around the house that will do the job. One option is to grab a yardstick, place a sock over one end, and secure it using a rubber band. Then, get down on the ground, push the yardstick under the refrigerator or other appliance, and move it back and forth to dislodge debris. Slide all the crumbs and dirt out in front of the appliance, where you can then vacuum or sweep them up.

4. Drain-Cleaning Zip Tool

ways to clean behind and under every appliance - three green drain zip tools

Drain-snaking tools can be real lifesavers when you have a clogged drain. However, they can also be helpful in cleaning under your stove, refrigerator, and other appliances. They’re long and flexible, and they fit easily beneath your appliances, allowing you to pull out any debris trapped under them. Because these tools are relatively inexpensive, you can get them in a multi-pack, like this Zip-It drain snake cleaner 3-pack at Amazon, and leave one under your kitchen sink and one in your laundry room so you’ll always have the right tool at hand, whether you’re cleaning under the refrigerator or the washing machine.

RELATED: How to Snake a Drain

5. Dryer Vent Cleaning Brush

ways to clean behind and under every appliance - dryer vent brush cleaning vent

To keep your dryer running efficiently and safely, it’s important to clean the dryer vent periodically. Not surprisingly, there’s a special tool for that. But the long, flexible design of a dryer vent brush , like this Vanitek dryer vent cleaner at Amazon, is also great for a range of other tasks, including cleaning under your appliances. The strong bristles on the brush are particularly good at releasing and pulling out all the debris hidden under the fridge, washing machine, and other appliances.

RELATED: How to Clean a Dryer Vent

6. Broom Handle and Microfiber Cloth

ways to clean behind and under every appliance - broom on blue microfiber cloth

This is another DIY hack, similar to the yardstick-and-sock method shared above. Use a rubber band to attach a microfiber cleaning cloth or rag to the handle end of a broom or mop. Slide the handle under the appliance and move it around to pull out as much gunk and grime as you can. This works well if you have plenty of space in front of the appliance, so it’s a handy tip for the garage refrigerator.

RELATED: How To: Clean a Refrigerator

7. Butter Knife

ways to clean behind and under every appliance - butterknife with yellow substance

A butter knife clearly isn’t going to reach very far under your appliances. However, it can be helpful in removing sticky or grimy residue just below the front of an appliance. Use the edge of the knife as a scraper to loosen stuck-on gunk that you can then wipe up with a damp cloth. A pan scraper or cheese spreader could also work if you don’t want to use one of your butter knives.