It’s a thankless job, but one you know needs to be done. Your intentions are good—you know there’s a lot of old food and a few spills that need to be cleaned in the refrigerator. You want to get it cleaned out. It’s on your to-do list…for tomorrow or the next day. Pretty soon, it’s the first of the month and you still haven’t gotten around to cleaning that fridge. Perhaps these tips can help…
Cleaning Out the Refrigerator
It’s one thing to empty a dishwasher and reload on a regular basis. But, a refrigerator full of food! Yep, the best way to tackle the job is to empty the refrigerator. Everything out—all the food, shelves, and drawers. Anything that can be pulled out, comes out. This step will make the cleaning go a lot faster in the long run.
Soak the shelves and drawers in the sink with warm water and regular dish soap. Dry thoroughly before replacing.
Wipe all the areas with a natural cleaning mixture, never a disinfectant cleaner. Remember, you and your family eat all that food, so natural cleansers are best for areas where food is stored. Use either a microfiber cloth or a high-quality sponge, so that no particles get left behind.
Make your own cleaner:
Mix one part white vinegar with two parts hot water and funnel into a glass spray bottle. Adding a small amount of lemon essential oil will help with any odor as an option. Spray the inside and let it set a couple of minutes. Wipe out with a cleaning cloth thoroughly.
For stubborn spills or stains, mix a paste of baking soda with water and apply to the spill for about an hour. That should loosen it up so that it can be wiped away.
For on-going cleaning, make it a practice to wipe up spills immediately. Keep a baking soda container tucked away on the bottom shelf to control odors. Dispose of old leftovers and outdated foods regularly.
Keep It Clean
Organization helps keep a refrigerator clean and can make it easier to reach foods. Some tips include:
- Keep the shelves clean –
- Keep like foods in containers/baskets.
- Line refrigerator shelves with easy-to-wipe-down mats or line them with plastic cling wrap; when spills happen or they get dirty, just peel them off and toss.
- Use the front-to-back method of food storage—i.e., fresher food is in the back. Rotate food as you shop, so that what’s already in the fridge gets used first.
- Keep meat or seafood on the bottom tray/drawer so that fluids from them don’t drip onto other foods.
- Don’t over-stuff the refrigerator; foods need adequate space to stay cold and avoid spoilage.
- Keep the inside temperature at 40 degrees F. or below to avoid potential bacteria buildup.
- Avoid slicing up foods until you’re ready to use them; they last longer whole.
- Don’t mix meats, fruits, or vegetables in the same crisper drawers.
- Keep milk in the middle section of the refrigerator, not the door. The temperature fluctuates too much for milk to be kept there.
The first cleaning may take a while, but with some effort and cooperation from the rest of the family, keeping the refrigerator clean is worth the effort. Then, mark that task off your to-do list (finally)!