It’s the end of the day. You clear the sink, fill the dishwasher, you might even wipe down your countertops before you leave the kitchen for the night. But how often do you clean the inside of your fridge?
Your refrigerator is probably home to spills that have all but frozen to the surface, leftovers that you can’t remember putting there, and at least a handful of expired items. All of these things are breeding grounds for bacteria, which is why it’s so important to know how to clean out a fridge effectively.
By using the following fridge cleaning tips a few times a year, you’ll be able to keep the inside of your fridge spotless, as well as bacteria and odor-free. Keep reading to learn more.
Have a Plan
Depending on how much food you have in your fridge, sorting through it all might take some time. And that’s on top of the time it’s going to take to do the cleaning of the appliance itself.
To prevent your refrigerated foods from spoiling during this time, you need to have a plan. If you only have a few items in the fridge, you can set everything on the counter while you clean. For larger projects, it’s a good idea to have a cooler to house everything.
In addition, you should ensure that both your sink and dishwasher are empty and available for the various Tupperware containers and dishes. Have a trashcan nearby for tossing expired items and old leftovers as well.
Get Your Cleaning Supplies
Now that your kitchen is ready for the project, you need to gather your cleaning supplies. Even if you have a cooler, the goal should be to have your refrigerated items outside of the fridge for the least amount of time possible. You don’t want your milk to spoil while you’re hunting for bleach.
When it comes to cleaning a fridge, there are two options. The first is to use either a store-bought household cleaner or a solution of bleach and water to sanitize the inside of the appliance.
If you’re worried about introducing these chemicals to your food, vinegar mixed with water creates a non-toxic, food-safe cleaning solution.
Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll also need a scrubbing sponge or cloth and a microfiber towel or two. Now, if you’re going to use your normal dish sponge in your refrigerator cleaning, you need to sanitize it first.
Cleaning a refrigerator with a used sponge is counterproductive, as your kitchen sponge is likely the germiest item in your home, housing about 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter. Soak your sponge in a mixture of vinegar and water for 20-30 minutes then rinse and dry before use.
Empty Out the Fridge
With your cleaning supplies at hand, you can begin the process of emptying your refrigerator. The first step is to sort through your food, tossing any expired food and old leftovers into the trash. The food that’s still good can either go on the counter or inside the cooler you set aside earlier.
In addition to the food, go ahead and remove all the shelves and drawers from the fridge that you can. If these pieces are made out of metal and plastic, they can be washed with hot water and dish soap.
Components that are made from glass or clay will need to be set aside until they get to room temperature. Attempting to move them straight from the refrigerator to a hot sink can cause cracks and breakage.
Once they’ve reached room temperature, you can either wash them by hand or put them in the dishwasher to lower the chances of an accidental shatter.
Clean the Interior of the Fridge
While your fridge components are in the dishwasher or soaking in the sink, you can clean the inside of the refrigerator. Using the mixture of hot water and vinegar (or hot water and bleach) and a clean cloth or sponge, wipe down all surfaces, including the sides and back.
It’s wise to move from top to bottom as you work to prevent contaminating your clean surfaces with dripping from your sponge. If you encounter any tough spills, you can either break out a scrubber or lay a warm cloth over the area for a minute or two. This will soften whatever has spilled, making it easy to wipe away.
When you’re finished wiping the fridge down, you need to dry everything off. Your microfiber towels will come in handy here. Be sure that everything is dry, including the inside of the doors, before you put the drawers, shelves, and food back.
At this point, you should also replace both the air filter and the water filter, if your fridge has a water dispenser. If you’re unsure about why or how to replace your air filter, this article can tell you everything you need to know.
Put Everything Back and Clean the Outside
The inside of your fridge is now sparkling clean! You’re ready to put everything back. As you’re moving the food back into the fridge, check that your containers are clean.
Wipe down the outside of jars and other containers with your vinegar and water solution and dry them off before you put them in their place.
When everything is back inside the fridge, do a quick wipe down of the exterior. You can use the same cleaning solution you used on the inside of the fridge, the only difference is if you have a stainless steel refrigerator. In this case, you need to make sure that you use a microfiber cloth and not a sponge to keep the surface shiny and scratch-free.
Keep Your Family Safe by Learning How to Clean Out a Fridge the Right Way
It’s a common misconception that refrigeration kills bacteria. The truth is that the low temperature inside of your refrigerator simply slows its growth.
By learning how to clean out a fridge the right way and doing so every 3 to 4 months, you’ll protect yourself and your family from potential illness due to bacteria and mold.
Looking for more tips and tricks for keeping your home clean and your family healthy? Be sure to check out our blog!