The refrigerator is one of the most important and costly appliances that you have in your home. If it isn't regularly maintained, the buildup of dirt and grime will reduce efficiency, meaning that the fridge works harder to maintain internal temperatures. This in turn will reduce the lifespan of your fridge and make it more prone to breaking down. However, with these simple maintenance tips you can keep it working at optimal efficiency for much longer.

Weekly: wipe down the interior surfaces

Wipe down the interior surfaces of your fridge using warm water and soap in a bowl. This is to remove crumbs, spills and other dirt from the walls and shelves of your fridge. An absorbent microfiber cloth or sponge should be used for wiping. For deeper cleaning, you can use a homemade all-purpose cleaner made from ammonia (1 cup), vinegar (1/2 cup) and baking soda (1/4 cup) mixed in about 4 litres of water. This is excellent if you want to de-grease the fridge. It also prevents growth of mildew and mould.

Monthly: check temperature and gaskets

At least once a month (e.g. on the day of deep-cleaning), check the door gaskets or seals for signs of loosening, tearing or weakening. Loose gaskets make internal temperature regulation much harder since cool air will escape through the gaps. The fridge then uses more energy to maintain internal temperatures. You can hold a piece of paper against the length of the rubber and watch out for any fluttering, which indicates that the fridge is losing air. Wipe down to remove dirt and dust particles, crumbs, and spills in the seals.

In addition, check that the refrigerator temperature is within acceptable limits, usually between 2-4°C for the fridge and 0°C for the freezer. If you notice a temperature variation, this could indicate a leak in your seals or an even more serious problem. If your seals are okay, call in a professional to ensure that it isn't anything more serious. You can keep a thermometer in the fridge at all times, instead of just using it for the monthly check – this isn't costly and allows you to inspect it regularly.

Annually: clean and inspect coils

Condenser coils are located behind or underneath your fridge, and they can attract dirt and dust over time. These coils are essential to removing heat from food in the fridge. They should be cleaned at least once a year, twice if you live in very dusty/windy places. Unplug the fridge from power, and move the fridge to enable you access the coils. Use a soft bristle brush or vacuum to draw out the dirt and dust particles and other debris from the coils.