How to Clean Your Fridge: Five Steps

After living with some untidy roommates, I’ve seen more than a few unkempt and even grimy refrigerators. And it’s usually been up to me to bring them back to cleanliness and sanitation. Though it can seem daunting, especially if you fear what lurks in the back, it’s easy to clean your fridge thoroughly when you tackle the project in an orderly way. For those new to cleaning refrigerators, here’s my five-step guide.

Clean Your Fridge: Step 1

Crank up the coolness a notch or two. Because you’ll have the door open during parts of the cleaning process, this will prevent the fridge for getting too warm, ensuring that you can safely put everything back in when you’re done. Remove all the food, and perform a “freshness audit,” throwing away anything sketchy. This is a good time to check labels for expiration dates, especially on infrequently used products that may have spoiled.

Clean Your Fridge: Step 2

Remove all the shelving, crisper drawers, or anything else that lifts or pops out. Be especially careful with any glass, of course. Using a clean soapy rag, wipe out the entire inside of the fridge, rinsing frequently. Because the food is stored in this compact space, you don’t want to use any strong chemical cleaners – no 409, no PineSol, no bleach, etc. If you wouldn’t clean off your dining plates with it, then don’t use it to clean your fridge! Be sure to get the top, bottom, sides, and all the crevices (butter bins, egg holders, etc.).

Clean Your Fridge: Step 3

Create a water and vinegar mixture (1 gallon of water with 2 cups of vinegar will be plenty potent), and wipe of the innards of the fridge again to make sure you’ve gotten rid of any soap suds. The vinegar-water solution is a nice safe way to get it feeling and smelling clean without using harsh agents unsafe for food.

Clean Your Fridge: Step 4

Repeat the steps above for any shelves, drawers, etc.: first wipe with soapy water, then do a rinse-wipe with the vinegar water before reinserting back in the refrigerator. Replace all the food promptly and turn the dial back down to a normal cooling setting. Add a fresh opened box of baking soda to help collect future odors.

Clean Your Fridge: Step 5

While you may be done with this inside of the refrigerator, there are still some additional tasks at hand:
· Clean the exterior of the fridge with whatever is appropriate for the surface (409, stainless steel cleaner, etc). Get the top, front, sides, and even the bottom of the doors.
· Wipe out the grooves where the door meets the fridge frame. That suction-y rubber zone tends to get grimy. Use more soapy water followed by vinegar water.
· Take a duster to the coils on the back of the fridge.
· If you’re really ambitious, move the whole unit and clean the floor underneath.

I haven’t addressed cleaning the freezer because freezers vary based on defrost type, size, etc. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for this part of the unit.

Enjoy your newly cleaned fridge!

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