The end of winter means it’s time to give your home a thorough spring cleaning and have it smell fresh and new and ready for sunny weather. Of course it’s not the most fun way to spend a day but if you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to sit back and relax in a sparkly clean house in no time. For many people, tackling the fridge is one of the most daunting tasks but it’s actually one of the easiest things in your home to clean. If you then keep it tidy, future fridge-cleaning jobs – you need to clean your fridge every two months or so – will be even easier. Here are 10 clever hacks for cleaning and organizing your fridge.
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The first step in how to clean a fridge is to unplug it. While this isn’t strictly necessary, it will prevent you from wasting too much energy while you’re cleaning. Some older fridges may also have a build-up of ice in the freezer compartment and it will be easier to remove if it’s melted a little bit. It might be a good idea to place some old towels or newspapers on the floor around to fridge to catch any water and prevent damage to the flooring.
Take Out Everything
You won’t do as thorough a job if you have to work around jars and containers and wilting lettuce. It’s much easier to clean a fridge when you’ve taken out everything that can be taken out. So toss whatever is past its prime, put items like milk or juice in the freezer until you’re done, and use a cooler to temporarily store everything else before you have to deal with household odours as well. Then remove the loose parts too: drawers, shelves and the like.
Let Glass Shelves Warm Up
If your fridge has glass shelves, let them stand a bit so that they can warm up to room temperature. The reason for this is that when cold glass comes into sudden contact with hot water, it can crack or shatter.
Wash the Shelves and Drawers
Here’s one of those things you didn’t know your dishwasher could do: it can clean fridge shelves and drawers. Just make sure you don’t put cold glass in the dishwasher. Alternatively, wash the shelves and drawers with warm water and baking soda and let them dry. You can use dish soap too but remember that food can absorb strong scents, so make sure your dish soap is fragrance free.
Wash the Inside
Use a sponge or soft cloth and warm water and fragrance-free dish soap to wash the fridge on the inside. Even better than using dish soap is to learn how to clean a fridge with baking soda: you’ll need about two tablespoons of baking soda to about a liter of hot water. The baking soda will help absorb odours in the fridge and its gently abrasive action will help lift off stubborn dirt.
Clean the Outside
Wondering how to clean a fridge outside? The same way as the inside, really: with a sponge or soft cloth and warm, soapy water. It’s also one of those things you can clean with a lemon: especially chrome or stainless steel surfaces.
Clean the Fridge Seals
You can use the same cleaning solution you’ve used for the inside of the fridge to clean the fridge seals. A toothbrush will help you get into the small nooks and crannies. Depending on the state of the fridge, you may have to know how to clean mould from a fridge seal: spray it with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar to kill the mould and gently scrub with a toothbrush.
Get Under It
Remove the drip pan underneath the fridge; then empty and clean it. If you can move your fridge away from the wall, now is a good time to do so: you’ll need to get in there with a vacuum cleaner to get rid of those dust bunnies. Gently clean the condenser coils too, since they’ll work better if they’re not covered in dust and grime.
Wrap It and Label It
Before you put the shelves and drawers back in the fridge, wrap them in cling film or a press-and-seal plastic wrap. This way, when food spills in the fridge, you just need to remove the wrap for a quick clean-up. It will also help you to keep your fridge organized if you label all the shelves and drawers to show what goes where before you put all the food back in the fridge. If everyone knows, for instance, to put condiments in the door, you won’t find mouldy mystery sauce at the back of the fridge months down the line.
Get a Lazy Susan
One of the best products under $25 to keep your home organized is a lazy Susan or rotating shelf. Putting one of these in your fridge will help you to easily reach behind that leftover slice of cake to get to the carrot sticks – or vice versa. This makes it harder for just about anything to languish at the back of the fridge ever again. InterDesign Linus Lazy Susan, Amazon, $23.