Every season, you should take the time out of your busy weekend to perform a deep clean on your refrigerator. Not only does this prevent bacteria from forming, but it also allows you to add items to your grocery list. Many refrigerated items spoil over time. You may have some toxic foods sitting in your doors or on your shelves right now.
The first step to cleaning your fridge involves turning it off. The switch is usually located right inside the refrigerator on the temperature dial. Turning it all the way past zero (this varies from model to model) will turn it off. Take out all the items. Remove drawers and wash in warm soapy water. Now spray down all shelves and wipe them clean. Some muscle may be required to clean up sticky spills that have been ignored for some time.
If you have a separate freezer area, now is the time to clean that as well. Take out all the frozen items and set them aside. Give the freezer compartment a thorough cleaning. Now tackle the rest of this project.
Once everything is clean, you can start putting items back into the fridge. Do not rush to do this though, you will need to look at every container or jar first. Typically, any product with oil has less than a year’s shelf life. Look at your salad dressing, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, and other sauce containers. Find their expiration dates and throw away anything that has gone past that specified date. If you come across an item that is nearing the date and you rarely use it, toss it out now.
Do the same with your butters, cheeses, and other dairy items. It can be dangerous to eat dairy products that are past their prime. Bacteria thrive, even in the colder areas of the fridge. If you come across items that you bought on sale and then did not like or rarely use, toss them out. There is no point in keeping it around if you are never going to touch it. Keep a mental list of the items you are throwing out so that you can replace the necessary ones and avoid those you thought you would like but didn’t.
If you come across jars that are sticky from spills, wash them first or toss them out. Don’t put a messy jar back into a clean fridge or it defeats the purpose. If you come across an item you don’t recognize, throw it away! Leftovers often go untouched and then become a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. If you have kept the food in disposable containers, throw them out as well. It may be unsanitary to use them again if the food has been in there for a long period of time.
Once you have the refrigerator sorted, work on the freezer items. If you cannot recognize the item, throw it into the trash. If you decipher something’s identity, label it before putting it back in. Put a date on the label so that you know when to use items. This is important for meats, which are generally unsafe to eat after a year’s time. Get in the habit of labeling the meats you buy.
Cleaning your refrigerator does not have to take hours. Often the job can be done in less than thirty minutes. It does keep you safe from harmful intestinal troubles down the line.