How to easily clean a refrigerator!
While not anyone’s favorite task, cleaning the fridge is something that we all need to do periodically. The refrigerator is where we store much of what we eat. Keeping it clean and fresh smelling will help prevent odors from migrating and food from tasting not-quite-right.
A thorough cleaning gives you the opportunity to go through everything in the refrigerator, get rid of any spoiled or expired food items, and lets you know what you have that should be used up.
As well, you can couple refrigerator cleaning with the task of re-organizing everything to make meal preparation easier.
What you need to get cleaning
Fortunately, no special equipment is needed to tackle this task:
- Rubber gloves
- A sponge
- A soft scrub brush (or a magic eraser)
- Some paper towels or rags
- Baking soda
- Dish soap
Make sure you have all of these ready and then you are good to get started.
Empty out the Refrigerator
Clear it out. Remove everything.
This is best done BEFORE you do your weekly shopping!
Empty all of the items off the doors, out of the drawers, and off the shelves. Toss anything that is no longer at its best.
This is the part where you will most likely find at least one unidentifiable item!
I find that refrigerator bins make this part of the task easier. It also makes it easier to find items that get buried in the back. I have a bin with all of my salad dressings, one with all of my condiments, and one with canned drinks in my fridge. Instead of removing all of those bottles and jars one by one, I can clear an entire shelf with a single trip
Remove all of the removable parts and wash them
This includes crisper drawers, shelves, your egg bin, and door bins. Use a mild dish soap and hot water to do this. Once they are clean, dry them well and set aside.
Clean the inside of the refrigerator with baking soda and vinegar
You don’t want to clean the inside of the refrigerator with anything harsh or strong smelling, that is why you want to use baking soda and vinegar.
Start by making a thick paste of baking soda and water on a sponge. Scrub the entire inside of the appliance (including the door and the butter compartment) with the sponge, and then rinse well with a clean sponge and water.
If there are any stubborn stains or stuck-on food, use a soft brush with more baking soda and vinegar. ( be careful as this will foam as it removes stuck on food etc )
You could also use a magic eraser (truly a miracle product!). Once this is done, saturate a paper towel with vinegar and wipe all of the interior surfaces. Allow drying for a few minutes.
Replace all of the drawers, shelves, and bins. I usually line my crisper bins with a double thickness of paper towel, but you can also use a kitchen towel, or specially-made liners that are available on Amazon… Then replace all of the food, organizing as you go.
This Youtube clip shows the powerful cleaning effect of mixing baking soda and vinegar
Don’t forget the refrigerator gasket!
The one thing that stands between your refrigerator and room temperature is the gasket. That’s the rubbery thing that surrounds the perimeter of the refrigerator door and functions to seal the appliance.
Gaskets dry out as they age, so they should be periodically conditioned. Clean the gasket with a paper towel dampened with vinegar. If you see any mold on the gasket, use a weak solution of bleach and water.
Once the gasket has dried, use mineral oil or lemon oil to keep it supple. Lemon oil is also good for polishing stainless steel appliances.
How to clean a refrigerator that really smells
Many of us have been there, you go away on holiday and while you are away the power goes off and things begin to go bad. There are many reasons for fridges to smell bad at some point. It is quite common for conventional cleaning methods not to be up for the job of removing the smell.
This is one of the reasons that it is a good idea to use baking soda and vinegar as this is a very effective way to get rid of odors without having to use strong chemicals such as bleach.
How to clean your refrigerator’s exterior
Give the outside of the refrigerator a good wipe-down. Use a disinfectant on the handle, which has been shown to harbor more germs that the toilet seat in a public restroom. If your refrigerator has coils on the back, gently vacuum them with the soft brush attachment. And give the top a good wipe down as well.
Maintaining your refrigerator
This may seem obvious, but make sure to wipe down any spills as soon as they happen. Ditto for the white crust that always seems to form under the carton of milk! I also disinfect the handle several times a week, especially during cold and flu season.
To keep your refrigerator fresh, I recommend keeping an open box of baking soda tucked away in the back. I do this in both the refrigerator and the freezer. If you are so inclined to new technology, there are some nifty keep-fresh gadgets on the market that you can also use. To minimize odors, always store food in airtight containers. Especially onions or other strong-smelling foods.