You might be scratching your head wondering where those Italian leftovers from three weeks ago went, or you might find that you don’t have room for your new groceries because of all the old food still in your refrigerator.
If that sounds like you, it might be time to deep clean your refrigerator.
Deep cleaning your fridge is vital to keep it sanitary and functional. Snap on your rubber gloves and stock up on these five tips for deep cleaning your refrigerator.
1. When it’s time to replace your refrigerator
Sometimes, refrigerators are too far gone to be adequately cleaned. Run a small diagnostic on your fridge. If it makes more noise than your washing machine on the spin cycle, or if it’s hot to the touch, it may be reaching the end of its life cycle.
You should also consider a new refrigerator if you notice your groceries constantly spoiling faster than you can buy them.
Old refrigerators build up excessive condensation or frost on the inside and outside. You don’t necessarily have to replace your fridge if it starts sweating, but condensation is a tell-tale sign of an older fridge.
When you need a new fridge, retailers like Goedeker’s can help you find a model that satisfies your wishlist items, lifestyle needs, and even the most seemingly insatiable appetites.
If your refrigerator is still running (better catch it) but the inside is filthy, it’s time to pour on the elbow grease.
2. Empty your refrigerator
Because you’re talking about a deep clean here, cleaning around all of your food won’t cut it. Take all of the food and containers out and set them on a counter.
Check the expiration dates and throw away outdated items. Toss your groceries in an ice chest or a sink full of ice to keep them nice and cool while you clean.
Once you have removed the food and containers, take out the shelves, drawers, and other removable parts. You’ll want to clean these in your sink or tub so that all the grime washes down your drain.
3. Start scrubbing
After you’ve removed everything from your fridge, it’s time to suds up your sponges and get to scrubbing. Rather than using a chemical-laden cleaning product, you can use a basic baking soda and water mixture.
Two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart of warm water will make your fridge’s grime disappear like magic.
Use the mixture to clean the shelves and drawers in your sink, too. If the shelves have caked-on grime, you might need to let them soak before attempting to scrub them.
Don’t be afraid to put your back into it to get rid of stubborn stains.
When cleaning with the baking soda mixture, don’t use an abrasive sponge. The baking soda will gently remove the caked-on food by itself.
Using an abrasive surface could leave unsightly scrapes and scratches on your fridge’s interior components.
If you’ve got a dishwasher, it could help you blast away bacteria on your shelving. Read your refrigerator’s manual to see if the components can withstand the heat of a dishwasher.
If you are uncertain, err on the side of caution and wash manually using your sink.
4. Dry everything
When you finish cleaning the interior and shelving units, dry everything thoroughly. If you let the dirty water pool at the bottom of the refrigerator, you could encourage mold or bacteria to grow.
Drying the shelves ensures they won’t drip all over your freshly cleaned interior.
Use cloth towel paper towels to dry your interior, so you don’t encourage more gunk to find a home inside the appliance. After you’ve cleaned and dried the interior and the components, you can put the shelves and drawers back in your refrigerator.
5. Don’t forget the seals, grates, and back
All too often, refrigerator cleaning checklists neglect the less visible components. As you wipe down the interior, remember to clean the seals around the perimeter of your refrigerator.
You should also pull your fridge away from the wall and vacuum behind and underneath it. Use your vacuum to clean the bottom grate and kickplate. If your fridge has a drip pan, remove that, clean it, and put it back.
6. Create a plan
The last step is deciding where to put everything in your refrigerator. Before replacing the food, look at your fridge to plan where you should put your food. You might need to adjust the shelves so you can put tall items in new places.
An organized fridge is easier to maintain because you know where everything goes when putting away your groceries. Not to mention, a refrigerator with rhyme and reason cuts back on waste by keeping all of your groceries visible and easy to find.
There are a few rules of thumb to follow when organizing your icebox. Put raw meat on lower shelves to protect other food from any drippings.
Use separate drawers for fruits and vegetables. Keep cheese and cold cuts in a dedicated drawer.
Many people put milk in their door compartments, but constant opening and closing can make the door shelving less cold than the interior shelving.
Store milk on the innermost shelves to make your dairy products last longer.
Don’t let your leftovers get left behind. If you develop a system for keeping scraps, you’ll have fewer items building up in your fridge and hiding your perishables.
People often label their leftovers with the date they put them in the refrigerator. This way, you’ll remember to eat the food rather than letting it sit around to grow mold.
When you deep clean your refrigerator, you create more space, extend fridge life expectancy, and encourage better food safety for your household. Add a fridge deep clean to your regular home maintenance schedule to keep it cool as a cucumber and clean as a whistle.