Here’s how to clean your fridge in a few easy steps
- February 11, 2023
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I’ll put it this way: You probably need to clean your fridge more often. I probably need to clean my fridge more often. Refrigerators are like revolving doors for produce, meat, condiments, dairy, take-away containers, beverages and who knows what else, all with different origins, expiration dates and degrees of crust dried on them (maybe I’m the last). If you think about it for too long, it will inevitably annoy you.
But aside from getting rid of odors, sticky stains, or slimy puddles, cleaning your fridge is also a healthy thing to do. Refrigerators are – and I don’t want to generalize here – gross. According to the USDA, a refrigerator’s low temperature isn’t enough to stop germs from growing, while Michigan State University points out that refrigerators can be breeding grounds for listeria, a common bacterium in food.
Health and hygiene aside, a clean fridge can be a quality of life improvement in itself, making groceries, leftovers and snacks all the more craving. And luckily, cleaning your fridge regularly makes the task easier in the long run. So grab those gloves and dish soap.
take everything out
To really get into the cracks and crevices, you have to empty your fridge. Put everything in a box to keep all bottles, jars, and other containers close by. If something spills in the box, you can throw it away when you’re done. Use this step to check expiration dates and reconsider your spice collection. Do you really need that new hot sauce from your road trip last year?
If you’re concerned about perishable foods spoiling during the cleaning, consider placing ice packs on particularly delicate foods. If you have an insulated cool box, you can use that instead of the box. But ideally, this whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour or so. The USDA suggests a “2-hour rule” to let food out of the fridge, which is more than enough time to deal with all that mess.
Chances are, when removing items, you’ll cross dried herbs, stray crumbs, or other dusty things. Sweep up with a dustpan and brush, or vacuum the surfaces of your fridge once. Now for the fun part.
Scrub, scrub, scrub.
For regular cleaning (preferably once a month), picking up expired food and scrubbing with a soapy sponge will suffice. First remove all removable shelves and drawers. Clean these with hot water and dish soap in the sink, then wipe away excess moisture with a dry cloth (microfiber is great if you have it).
When the shelves are ready, move on to the main event – the fridge itself. Get a bucket and a sponge, fill it with warm water, add dish soap and stir until it becomes sudsy. Scrubbing is the order of the day: Work from top to bottom like you would with cars or furniture. This way, if dirt runs off with the soapy water, it won’t drip onto areas you’ve already made shiny. When you’re done with the inside, wipe down the outside of your fridge as well. If you have a stainless steel fridge, consider using a special stainless steel cleaner to maintain the shine.