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How to Remove Glass From a Refrigerator Shelf

Open refrigerator full of food

Refrigerators, as much as they are a crucial part of our everyday lives, are not thought of often. That is unless you have a reason to, like if it breaks or, heaven forbid, needs to be cleaned. One of the more difficult aspects of cleaning the fridge is the removal of the shelving, especially if it happens to be made of glass. It can be tricky, and there is certainly a ‘knack’ to it. Not to fret, we are going to walk you through the process. Keep reading to learn how to remove the glass from a refrigerator shelf. 

Be Prepared

There is little worse than getting into a frustrating project and then realizing that you do not have all of the tools needed, handy and nearby. Since we are dealing with a project that could potentially result in injury (glass will cut you), being prepared is an important part. Collect all of the tools that you will need (owner’s manual, tools called for, paper towels, appropriate cleaning solution, etc.) and place them in a convenient and accessible area. 

Are you removing the shelves due to a move? Check out our post How to Transport a Refrigerator in a Pickup Truck to learn how to properly move your fridge in a pickup truck.

Safety First

Although glass shelving can be quite thick, as with most glass, it is still breakable. Removing the glass from shelving can also be tricky if it is slippery due to cleaner or sticky from spilled food or drink. Always be as gentle as possible when popping the glass from its frame/border. If your glass is dishwasher safe (check the owner’s manual – some are dishwasher-friendly but some are not), be sure to let the glass sit out at room temperature for a bit before running it through the dishwasher. Going from the coldness of your refrigerator straight into an extremely hot environment, such as a dishwasher, can cause the glass to shatter, crack, and/or break. Try to get it as close to room temperature as possible.

Why You Need to Remove Glass from a Refrigerator Shelf

view of inside a fridge containing only 1 green apple on a glass shelf

You know that old adage – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? That general life rule applies here. Removing the glass from the shelving in your refrigerator is typically not super difficult, particularly if you do your research and know what you’re doing, but it really only should be done when absolutely necessary. The more it gets moved around and messed with, the more likely it is that it will get accidentally broken, which can not only be a pain in the rear to replace but also somewhat expensive. And, that’s not to mention the possibility of injuring yourself should the glass shatter or break.

Steps to Remove Glass from a Refrigerator Shelf

gloved hand with blue cleaning rag resting on glass shelf of refrigerator

Step 1 – Read the Owner’s Manual

No two refrigerators are the same – but they do all come with a handy owner’s manual. Familiarize yourself with this manual. It is specific to your machine and will have some helpful tips such as how to remove any clips or latches that may be holding the shelving in place. Get yourself acquainted with the refrigerator, and all of its many parts, before diving in and removing stuff. 

Step 2 – Remove All Contents

Now’s the time for action. You will want to remove all of the contents of the refrigerator. Place any perishable items in a cooler, preferably with ice. To do this correctly, the fridge should be completely empty – and that includes condiments. You need to be able to see the shelves in their entirety.

Step 3 – Scrubbing

While not the most imperative step in the process, cleaning (and drying) the shelves might make it easier to remove them. Spills happen but those spills can be gross and sticky. They also might get in the way of being able to get a firm enough grip. Bottom line, spritz a little cleaner, do a little wiping, and dry them off before attempting removal. Plus, now you won’t have to do it later – ya know, when you’re all frustrated from the glass removal.

Step 4 Inspect

Remember reading the owner’s manual? Great. Now that the refrigerator is empty and squeaky clean, you should be able to really see the shelving and the glass panel contained within it. The owner’s manual should have information on any latching devices that might be present. As these are there to prevent sliding, it is important these are removed intact. They will need to be replaced to avoid issues with the shelving. 

Step 5 – Undo Any Latches, Clips, or Clasps

Now that we have identified them, it is time to safely remove any latches, clips, or clasps. Again, this should be done as gently as possible. The clips do serve a purpose and rough handling could result in damage to the shelf or glass panel. 

Step 6 – Gently Pull from Refrigerator

Refrigerator shelving is made to fit in its place snugly. Once you have unlatched any locks in place, the shelf needs to be slid out. If the shelf feels like it has become stuck, do not yank or pull on it. Sometimes food and other fun stuff can get stuck in the track, causing the shelf to stick.

Step 7 – Delicately Pop Glass from Frame/Border

The glass is going to be surrounded by a metal or plastic border or frame. Not to sound too much like a broken record but this needs to be done with the utmost of care. In addition to being an expensive part to replace, storing your food might be somewhat of a challenge until you do. So, let’s not break anything. If you are having difficulty, the owner’s manual will also have the best way to do this part too.

The Make/Model Matters

The refrigerator section of an appliance store

As already stated, no two refrigerators are the same, hence the reason we keep reiterating the importance of referring to the owner’s manual. The process of removing the shelving on one make/model could be entirely different than another make/model. 

Once the glass is clean, everything needs to be put back together – carefully. You’re almost at the finish line, this is no time to get careless. The hard part is over. Breathe. You did it. We get it, these kinds of things aren’t fun – for anyone. But, alas, it must be done. However, it does not have to be a traumatic event. When done right, this can literally be a 30-minute job. Do your homework, follow directions, and you will be just fine.

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