You probably spend more time cleaning the kitchen than any other room in the house. But how clean is your refrigerator? If you can spot a spill or detect an odor, your fridge is due for a deep clean. We call it the spring fridge purge!
These fridge cleaning tips are useful for refrigerators of all sizes, including micro- and mini-fridges.
Tip 1: Come Prepared
You must completely empty the fridge to give it a deep, thorough clean. That means time is of the essence. The sooner you finish cleaning, the less time your food spends unrefrigerated.
To save time, gather what you will need for the spring fridge purge before you begin. We recommend:
- A bucket of warm water
- Scentless dish detergent, or vinegar and baking soda
- A clean sponge
- Garbage bags or bins (plus a compost bag, if you separate organic waste)
- Rubber gloves
The choice between dish detergent and vinegar/baking soda is a matter of personal preference. Vinegar and baking soda is the more ‘natural’ choice. If you do go with a detergent, choose one without a strong scent, because your food may absorb a strong scent.
Tip 2: Turn Off the Fridge
Is your refrigerator running? For once, the answer should be “no.” Leaving the fridge plugged while it is empty is a waste of energy (and the fridge consumes more power with the door open.)
Tip 3: Purge All Past-Date and Unused Food
Sort everything you remove from the fridge into one of three piles: items you plan to keep in one pile, containers you plan to wash and reuse in another, and a third pile for garbage.
Any past-date or expired food should go to pile number three. Expired food can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which puts you at risk of food poisoning. When in doubt, throw it out!
Consider discarding any condiments, sauces, and other items you haven’t eaten (and don’t plan to eat) in a month. There’s no reason to fill your fridge with things you hardly use; crowding the fridge impedes air circulation, and the idea that it cuts your energy bill is a myth. Plus, it is much easier to keep the fridge clean when it isn’t full to the brim.
Tip 4: Clean from Top to Bottom
It’s not only the shelf-tops that need a good clean. The vinyl seal that lines the refrigerator door is a magnet for crumbs. The front grill collects lots of dust and dirt. The bottoms of the shelves can hide sticky stains. And the refrigerator door handle? You don’t want to think about all the messy fingerprints are lurking on the underside.
Your spring fridge purge isn’t over until you have cleaned the whole thing inside and out — not just what you can see at first glance. If possible, remove the shelves and crisper bins to ensure you’ve cleaned every edge and corner.
Tip 5: Make Cleaning the Fridge Part of Your Routine
The best fridge cleaning tip we can offer is this: don’t wait until spring to do it! The task is only daunting if you only confront it when the fridge is a mess. Get in the habit of wiping spills before they dry, cleaning jars and bottles before they go in, and disinfecting the vegetable crispers once a week.