How to clean and organize your refrigerator may not sound sexy, but believe me the results ARE. Plus, regular preventative maintenance of this appliance will save you money in the long run.
It’s springtime! And that means Spring Cleaning for many of us. I love the chance to clean and organize a few areas of my house that really don’t get regular attention the rest of the year. So here is a guide to cleaning the refrigerator. And as a bonus, the printables at the end are from the April 2019 edition of Texasliving, where the information was originally published. Yes, yours truly is a paid writer…even if this topic isn’t so sexy.
CLEANING THE INTERIOR
Gather the cleaning products you will need:
- Clean sponge
- Dish soap
- Lint free dish towels (flour sack style is recommended)
- Microfiber towel
- Paper towels
- Counter space
- Sink or tub
- Trash Can
- Thin washcloth
- White vinegar (in a spray bottle)
- Olive oil
Keep in mind that you will want the most natural products available. Bleach or other harsh chemicals or disinfectants are not recommended.
Once you have your cleaning products organized, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. This entire project should take you less than an hour, depending on the current state of your refrigerator.
Begin by removing all of the food; this makes the process of cleaning faster and easier. Consolidate like foods on your countertop. For example, all salad dressings together, all condiments together, all cheeses together, and so forth.
Remove all of your shelves and drawers and place into a sink or tub full of warm, soapy water.
While your shelves and drawers are bathing, wipe all of the interior surfaces with soap and warm water. (If all you want to go 100% natural, mix 2 Tablespoons of baking soda into one-quart hot water and use in place of soap). After the overall wipe down, rinse surfaces with clean water. Finally, take the time to towel dry with a soft cloth.
If you have stubborn stains on the interior walls (or even on your shelves or drawers) make a paste with baking soda + water. Apply this paste to the stain and leave it for up to 60 minutes before wiping away.
For your door seals, use your index finger and a thin washcloth to wipe the seals thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Remember to rinse and dry the seal. In order to keep it in the best condition, lubricate with weather stripping or Vaseline every time you give your refrigerator a deep clean.
While we are on the topic of the door seals, take the time to do the dollar bill test. It is as simple as it sounds- place a bill between the seals and the door then close the door. If the bill falls out, it’s time to have the seal replaced.
ORGANIZING THE INTERIOR
Now that your refrigerator’s interior is sparkling, let’s get that food back inside! Of course, after all of that work, you don’t want to just put your food back in the way it came out. Start by wiping down the jars and bottles, and then grouping them in the refrigerator by use. Always put the labels facing forward and you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for faster.
Believe it or not, there is a “science” to organizing your food within your appliance. Here are the basics:
- Store fruits and vegetables in separate, but designated drawers.
- Keep your meats, poultry and fish on the lowest level shelves. This will minimize any cross contamination if you experience any leaks or drips of these items.
- It is not suggested to keep your milk on the door, but rather in the back (corner) of the space for the best regulation of temperature. The reason being when the door opens, whether searching for milk or not, the temperature of the milk adjusts.
- Keep eggs near your milk for the same (temperature regulation) reasons.
- Store sauces, condiments, jams and jellies on the door for easy access.
- Cheese and lunch meat can be stored together, similar to a delicatessen. Make sure any open packaging is re-sealed tightly.
- Group leftovers together and store in clear containers to tell what’s inside. Often out of sight means out of mind, and that’s an easy way to lose a perfectly good meal!
- Finally, do not over fill your refrigerator. Having a packed interior lessens the circulation of air – and your food will actually spoil faster.
If you have a handful of smaller items that you use regularly, such as jarred garlic, put them on a lazy Susan inside the fridge.
You can rearrange the shelves when you put them back in. Place the shelves to suit YOU. Whether it’s moving a shelf up or down to make room for tall containers on the top or the bottom, etc.
Now that your interior is clean and organized, it’s time to clean the outside of your appliance.
CLEANING THE EXTERIOR
Start by wiping down the front and sides of the appliance with a damp sponge.
If you have a stainless steel refrigerator, a simple combination of white vinegar + olive oil is a great cleaning solution. Put some white vinegar in a clean spray bottle and then lightly spray the exterior of your stainless steel. Wipe the surface with a clean microfiber cloth. Then dip the cloth in olive oil and proceed to move it in the direction of the grain. You’ll see a beautiful shine begin to develop without streaks or marks.
Make sure to remove any moisture from the drip pan under the fridge. It may be full of water, or just have a few drops. Either way, wipe it with paper towels, then pull it out and wash it with warm, soapy water. If the drip pan is not removable, wrap a damp dishtowel around the end of a broom handle (secured with rubber bands) and then use it to “clean” the pan.
Vacuum your coils at least once a year – especially if you have pets or performed any household renovations. Coils may be on the top or bottom of the fridge, depending on the style. If the coils are dirty, your fridge works extra hard and could lead to burn out.
Finally, some simple details to keep in mind:
- Edit your food items once a week – just before you do your weekly meal planning and shopping. Check product / condiments expiration and plan to use (or throw away). You’ll save money by not having duplicates AND will avoid “science projects” growing inside!
- Check the temperature regularly. The ideal temp is 40° Fahrenheit. Any warmer, you risk the growth of harmful bacteria, any colder and your food may start to show signs of freezing.
- Wipe up spills immediately after they occur!
- And of course, keep a fresh box of baking soda on hand to replace each month.
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