1. Wipe Down!
Use a sponge or light, soft scrubbing pad and soak with soap and water or a kitchen cleaner to wipe down the exterior of the fridge. If you have lots of papers and magnets on the fridge, take those off first. Consider only keeping 3 magnets on the side or front of the fridge as this tends to instantly make a kitchen look cluttered. Remove all sticky marks, fingerprints and don’t forget to wipe the top of the fridge for dust if you have access to the top.
2. To eat, or not to eat? Open your fridge and get out a garbage bag and do a process of elimination by sorting, keeping and tossing. Go shelf by shelf and start pulling items and looking at expiry and best before dates. Anything expired goes into the garbage. Likewise anything that looks like a leftover and you are unsure of when it was placed in there, goes too. Any other items that you don’t need, want or use will also go. Anything you truly need and do use will go back in after the cleaning, set aside on the counter in one area. Do the same with the freezer
3. Clean on the inside. This is the most important part of the process. Now that the fridge is free from food items and containers you can take each glass shelf out and clean with kitchen spray or soap and water followed by a wipe down with glass cleaner. Make sure the inside corners and walls of the fridge are also wiped down. In the door of the fridge you’ll clean each storage compartment then move to the fruit and veggie crispers etc. Take a good look and make sure that everything is sparkling. Wipe down all the bottles and containers with soapy water, dry and replace into the fridge.
4. Keep Odor under Control! Place a new opened box of baking soda at the back of the top shelf of the fridge. This will help keep odor in check as the baking soda absorbs bad smells. Always take a permanent marker and write the date on the box. Remember to change it every 3 months. In addition always place items in the fridge in either a plastic sealed bag or plastic container. If you leave an onion half-cut in the crisper, you fridge will smell like an onion and your milk and juices will taste like it. Smells travel so keep them at bay. Also add a baking soda box to the freezer and follow the same premise.
5. Keep Leftovers in the Clear. There is nothing worse than opening leftovers from a month ago and having to smell and see what is inside. Know what is inside of every container by investing in some inexpensive clear storage containers. You might want to use some clear labels to list the date and the contents. Leftovers will get buried in opaque containers. You are also more likely to see the item and eat it instead of wasting it as it winds up in the trash.
6. Everything in its Place. Set up your fridge so that like items are located in the same place. For example all condiments can live in the fridge door on one or two shelves All large containers of juice, milk and water are best on the top shelf of the fridge. Raw meat belongs on the bottom shelf as not to cross-contaminate should it leak. Each shelf can have a theme almost. Shelf two could be grain products like muffins, bagels, bread and maybe the associated spreads like peanut butter or butter. Use the fruit and vegetable crispers separately for what they are intended. This makes for faster cooking and preparation when you don’t have to search the whole fridge for one item.
7. Stay on top of it! It is easy to see a raw meat juice spill in the fridge and say “I’ll get it later”. Later usually becomes never. Do yourself a favor and pick a day, maybe the same day you clean the rest of your house or grocery shopping day, to keep it clean. If you follow these steps weekly it will be much easier. When you look into your fridge weekly you’ll only need to wipe it down, glass clean a few shelves, wipe down a couple containers and toss an item or two that has expired.
The Fridge can seem like a whale of a job but only if you let it get that far. Tackle this job once today and the payoff will be well worth it. Not only is it presentable to your family an unsuspecting house visitors, it is also hygienic and clean to keep your family healthy!