Your fridge is one of the most useful appliances in your kitchen but it can quickly become one of the grossest too. Cleaning it, unfortunately, involves more than just a quick wipe-down. Giving your fridge a proper deep clean is one of those time-consuming, mind-numbing tasks many of us postpone until we run the risk of releasing new life forms into the world every time we look for the milk. Our hacks, however, will not only help you work smarter instead of harder, they’ll also assist you in keeping your fridge clean for longer.
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Deep Clean Every 3 to 4 Months
Mark it in your calendars – your fridge should be thoroughly cleaned every three to four months. When this date rolls around, start by taking everything out. Keep a cooler handy for all the contents you want to keep, and toss everything else.
For this next step, consider unplugging the fridge for the sake of safety. Then, remove all the drawers and shelves and then wash and wipe down both the inside and the outside of the fridge with warm, soapy water. Go back over these areas with a wet rug containing no soap in order to remove all the suds. Wash the shelves and drawers in the sink using warm, soapy water and dry before putting back in the fridge.
Every six months, move the fridge and vacuum the ventilation grills and the floor behind and around the fridge, too.
Choose Your Cleaning Agents Carefully
One of the best fridge-cleaning tips is to be careful about your cleaning agents. Food absorbs odours, so avoid using any cleaner with a strong smell, like ammonia or bleach. Also avoid anything that can release harmful toxins, since your food will absorb these too. Homemade natural cleaners with Castile soap and solutions with vinegar or lemon juice have grease-cutting and disinfecting properties. Baking soda will help remove tough grime and absorb odours.
Add Baking Soda To Absorb Odours
Fridges are great at trapping odours, and nobody wants that. One cheap, easy life hack? Baking soda. Put an opened box of baking soda at the back of the fridge to absorb odours. Replace it every two months or so. When two months are up, don’t toss the box! There’s a ton of things you can clean using baking soda.
Don’t Forget the Water and Ice Dispensers
Cleaning the fridge water dispenser and/or ice dispenser is important because bacteria, yeast and mould can build up in these and end up in your drinks. Use a straw brush and a solution of equal parts warm water and white vinegar to clean the water dispenser’s nozzle and then let the water run for a minute or so, until it doesn’t taste like vinegar anymore. Then, check the manufacturer’s manual for instructions on how to clean the water line and the ice maker. You’ll ideally want to do this monthly or every two months. But if you can’t make the time, add this task to your deep clean scheduled for every three or four months.
Do Your Maintenance
To keep your fridge running smoothly, you also need to conduct regular maintenance. Among the easiest refrigerator maintenance tips include keeping the fridge on a level surface (so, ensure the flooring beneath your fridge isn’t broken or uneven), keeping it away from heat-generating sources like the oven or stovetop, not leaving the door open and, lastly, keeping the fridge full: not overstocked, but filled roughly to capacity, so that it cools more efficiently. The fridge manual will show you how to check the door seals, change the lightbulb and filters and how to clean the different parts. Follow these instructions and add these steps to your routine deep clean scheduled for every three or four months.
Line the Shelves
Want to know how to keep your fridge clean? Start by lining the shelves. When something spills, the liner will keep it from spilling onto the shelf below. It makes cleaning a breeze too because you only need to remove the liner for that one shelf and clean or replace it. Clingfilm or plastic wrap are cheap options. If you want something more sustainable, use wax paper or thick plastic mats that you can use again and again.
Related: We Tried These Sustainable Home Products: Our Honest Opinions
Use Storage Bins
Storage bins and baskets are not only storage solutions for bedrooms and bathrooms: they can help you keep your fridge organized and make cleaning easier. If you tend to be lazy, use shallower containers so that you don’t have to pull out the whole thing to get to the item you want. Durable plastic bins and baskets are easier to clean and if they’re made of a clear material, you can easily see what’s in them. Use these storage containers to efficiently store eggs, prepped produce, foods of a kind such as various cheeses or deli meats and, of course, leftovers.
Have a Bin For Items You Need to Use Soon
When you fill your fridge with new groceries, it’s easy to forget about the yogurt or milk or leftovers that are about to turn. So, have a designated bin for items you need to use up soon and plan your meals around the contents. As you put new items in the fridge, move the older stuff to this bin. Once a week, go through it, see how you can reuse food scraps and toss whatever needs to be tossed.
Have Designated Food Zones
Divide your fridge into zones for different types of foods. The door is the warmest part, so is best for items that don’t perish easily, like condiments, pop, wine or beer. Have a crisper drawer on high humidity for leafy greens and one on low humidity for other fruit and veg. Use the meat drawer for deli meat and cheese. The lower shelves are colder, so are best for dairy, eggs and meat – although meat is best stored in the freezer. The top shelf is great for leftovers and your use-up-soon bin.
Related: Where to Take Your Used Appliances and Cabinets, by Province
Get a Lazy Susan
Looking for a game-changer to keep your fridge organized? Invest in a lazy Susan. No more forgetting food at the back of the fridge until you have your own penicillin farm: simply rotate the shelf to bring whatever you need to the front. And the best part? An easy-to-clean plastic lazy Susan isn’t much of an investment. Check out this 2-pack from Amazon, $27.
Related: The Best Products Under $25 That’ll Keep Your Home Neat and Organized
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