Today (November 15) is National Clean Your Refrigerator Day! The refrigerator is one of the hardest working appliances in your home — and one that often takes a beating. With the holidays around the corner, we wanted to take a moment to go over some helpful tips and tricks to clean your refrigerator before your prep work for entertaining begins. A clean refrigerator promises to keep food fresher and diminish your chances of growing mold or bacteria, so do your best to maintain the cleanliness of this kitchen workhorse.
1. Take out all the food. If you’re worried about spoiling, store the perishables in a cooler while you clean. You’ll want to see every crevice that’s in need of a scrub down.
2. Pull out your drawers. There’s no point in bending over backwards to get in those hard-to-reach places. If possible, take each of your drawers out so you can wash them individually in your sink. This will save you much time and effort.
3. Avoid abrasive cleaners. Be sure to use water and mild dish soap when cleaning your shelves and doors. If this still doesn’t do the trick for those hardened spills, mix vinegar, baking soda, and a bit of dish soap to a bucket of hot water. Feel free to squeeze some lemon juice in there for fresh scent. This will be safe to have around food, easy to rinse off and is chemical free. There’s no need to use harsh chemicals — especially in a place where you store your food.
While you’re cleaning your fridge, take a moment to go through all of your food – including condiments! If anything is past its prime, be sure to toss it to avoid further rotting. And since you’ve pulled everything out, why not organize it?
- Group things together. This can range from nut butters, salad dressings, marinades, sauces, etc. Grouping your items together make them easier to find, enabling you to quickly whip up your next meal.
- Don’t place items that expire easily in your doors. This can include dairy products, fresh squeezed juices and more. Be sure to place items like this on your shelves, close to the center. The center of your fridge is typically the coldest and will keep these items fresh longer.
- Store leftovers in glassware. Not only is glassware free of chemicals like phthalates and BPA, but your leftovers will be stored in a clear container that is easily visible that won’t be forgotten.
- Store meat on the bottom shelf. If you’re a meat eater, try to store it below other foods or in a designated drawer to avoid it from dripping on other foods.
- Keep fruits and vegetables readily visible. If you store your fruits and veggies at eye level, you’ll be easily reminded to eat them on a regular basis. Store them in a place where they are the first things you see when you open your fridge.
- Eliminate odors. Even though your fridge will now sparkle and sine, you may experience the occasional odor of leftover holiday food. Baking soda works great. We recommend pouring some over a rimmed baking dish and leaving it inside with the door closed until the smell goes away. Or, place activated charcoal (available at drugstores or pet shops) on a tray inside, with the fridge temperature set on “low.”
Spring cleaning is still a few months away, but gutting your fridge now will make life easier down the road. Take advantage of the time you have now before the busy holiday months arrive. Baking, cooking and entertaining will be that much easier. We promise! Plus, this will make you more aware of what you have in your fridge and the lifestyle you are currently living. Take a moment to evaluate the nutritional value of the contents in your fridge. Are you happy with your current food choices? This may be the perfect opportunity to sit down and make some changes to your diet before the holidays. Making changes now will make it easier to resist the cookies, pies and other treats associated with the holiday months.