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Cleaning Out the Fridge
Why is cleaning the fridge out such a chore?
And why did I ask if you do it?
Of course you do!
We all do.
We just hate doing it.
Total aside here: I once had neighbors across the street who would periodically drag their fridge out into the driveway – empty – and hit it with the power washer!
I mean, I know they had a bunch of kids and both parents worked, but still….
How Often to Clean the Refrigerator
So I looked it up, to be sure that my idea was right. (And we all know that what we think and what we do are often different things.)
A quick wipe down every week to get the surface stuff, a better cleaning once a month, preferably before grocery shopping, and a deep clean every season.
I honestly don’t know if I would do it as often as once a season. I think sometime in the fall before all the holidays hit and then sometime in the spring ought to do it, but maybe my fridge doesn’t get as much traffic as others.
Empty it Out
The first task in cleaning the fridge is getting it as empty as possible.
Of course, during your weekly wipe out, you’ll just move things around a bit and concentrate on anything that’s spilled.
Once a month, when the fridge is already good and empty, you can give it a better cleaning. Now is the time to get rid of the science experiments and leftovers that aren’t going to be eaten. Also check items for the sell by date to make sure they’re still good.
Seasonally, you’ll want to do a deep clean. I think fall is a great time because it seems like we use our refrigerators more during the summer.
For this kind of cleaning, wait until it’s as empty as possible, and then use a cooler for the food until you can put it back.
How to Clean It
Stick with the basics on this one: warm water, a tiny bit of dish soap or vinegar, and baking soda.
Personally, I would go with vinegar rather than soap, so there’s no residue or rinsing required. And anything stuck on always gets the wet paper towel treatment in my house: take a paper towel or two, dip them in your bucket so they’re nice and wet, and slop them down on the offending area.
Let it sit for a few minutes, and then use baking soda if you need to scrub anything. That way it won’t scratch any of the surfaces.
I have glass shelves in my refrigerator, so I always dry them before I put them back in (during a deep clean). If it’s just regular cleaning, I don’t always bother.
And I always line my crisper drawers with clean paper towels before I put them back.
The drawer for our meats and cheeses broke years ago, and a replacement was ridiculously priced, so since then, we’ve been using a couple of baskets to hold everything. (I confess – when it first broke, I only had one basket that would work, but I needed two. So for a long time, we had a shoebox in our fridge holding the cold cuts and cheese. We’re fancy like that.)
Rotation, Rotation, Rotation
One of the biggest problems with any refrigerator (and most pantries) is how deep they are. Yes, it’s wonderful for when you need lots of storage, but not so great when things get lost at the back and forgotten.
And why is it the male species is unable to find anything that doesn’t jump out and smack them in the face?
Anyway, it’s a good idea to find a system that works for you when it comes to food in the fridge. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make a habit each time you put something away to bring the older stuff to the front so it will be seen and hopefully used.
- Keep a list on the fridge itself so you know what’s in there, especially the crisper drawer.
- Designate an area or shelf to hold leftovers and make them visible or label them.
- I personally like storing food in those plastic storage bags, but they are bad for the environment, and it’s not always easy to tell what’s in them. The absolute best solution are square or rectangular glass containers with lids. They’re environmentally friendly, will last forever, and it’s much easier to see what’s inside.
Oh, and have you seen these?
Drawer liners that extend the life of your fruits and vegetables by absorbing moisture, preventing mold, bruising, and odors. And they’re FDA approved.
I think if I ever write a prize winning cookbook (me – who never measures anything), it will teach people how to take some leftover this and that and make a meal out of it.
So there you have it. Your guide to cleaning your fridge.
Pencil it into your planner soon.
More Cleaning Tips for Free
I have more cleaning tips and recipes for homemade cleaners in the Resource Library.