Most people wipe down their counters daily, and clean their stove and microwave at least once a week because they get grimy from heavy use. However, there is another vital piece of kitchen equipment that you are probably ignoring: the refrigerator. Whether it’s because the doors stay closed and you don’t look too hard at the corners, or because it seems like a more daunting task (or, because that chime keeps going off when you leave the doors open…), people tend to want to ignore the state of the fridge. And yet, this is where we store our fresh food and our leftovers, so it makes sense to keep it clean so we don’t ruin our grocery order for the week.
No matter how well-hidden the inside of your refrigerator may be, it's still important to keep it clean and germ-free. Keeping the refrigerator clean is the first step in ensuring the safety of the food and drinks you offer to yourself and others. This guide will also tell you how often to clean your refrigerator, and give you some useful ways to make this task easier.
The refrigerator's handles should be wiped clean every day.
Take a moment every evening as part of your straightening up routine to clean the refrigerator's handles using Disinfecting Surface Cleaner, which is plant-based and safe to be used on food surfaces. The dials and buttons for appliances like water dispensers and ice makers should be wiped once a day as well, as all of these surfaces receive frequent contact from many hands.
In the event of a spill, act quickly.
If there is a spill in the refrigerator, clean it up right away. Large enough spills can drip onto other shelves and drawers, so you might be doing a surprise deep cleaning of your fridge. Cleaning these spills quickly ensures that there is no residue to make your shelves sticky or stained, and you avoid mystery smells from the spilled liquids. Spills can also breed bacteria and other pathogens, so cleaning them up quickly can prevent illnesses.
Take the time to clean up any spills using a Microfiber Towel and make sure they haven't contaminated any other food or drink. Keep your food in airtight, spill-proof containers to avoid any mishaps. As a general rule, you should give your fridge a quick wipe down whenever you notice food or drink residues, such as sticky sauce bottles, or leaky storage containers.
Food that has expired should be thrown away once a week.
Each week, before the week even begins, check the fridge and freezer to see what you have to work with. This will help you plan your food for the week, but also help you eliminate any foods that didn’t get used before their expiration dates. Get rid of any outdated foods or leftovers that have sat too long uneaten. It's crucial to routinely sort through your refrigerator, as spoiled food can promote bacterial growth and leave mold spores, as well as produce unsavory smells that can attach themselves to your fresh foods.
In doubt as to what has run its course? Find the expiration date on the label of each bottle. If you are unsure about the freshness of an item and there is no expiration date on it, it is best to toss it. Any food that has been stored near or in contact with expired or recalled foods should also be thrown away, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Perform a thorough fridge cleaning once every season.
Every three to four months, give your refrigerator a thorough cleaning. In the interest of keeping things simple, you may want to give your refrigerator a thorough cleaning before the start of each new season, or on the Equinoxes and Solstices.
In order to thoroughly clean your refrigerator, you should remove all of the food and store it in a cooler with enough ice to last for the full cleaning time. Most people prefer to clean their refrigerators when they have used up most of their perishable food products, since this means fewer things to unload and put back when you’re done.
Learn the proper cleaning procedures for your refrigerator by reading the instructions included with the unit. Normally, it will tell you to turn off the fridge's power supply before doing anything else, but most people skip this step in the interest of having more light to work with in the back corners.
The shelves and drawers should be removed and washed in hot, soapy water or with Multi-Surface Cleaner before being reinstalled. Wipe down the inside of the refrigerator, including the walls, with this cleaner as well. Keep in mind that you should also clean the top of the refrigerator's interior as well as the doors and door shelves.
Remove any debris from the ice machine and water dispenser.
In-built ice makers and water dispensers are now common features in many refrigerators. If yours does, keeping it clean is essential if you want to continue using it to store ice or water without worrying about contamination. You'll need to frequently replace the water filter in your ice maker or water dispenser, since these moist areas can harbor bacteria and the filter collects contaminants from your water supply. According to Consumer Reports, most filters should be replaced every six months; however, the manufacturer's instructions for your specific refrigerator might suggest replacement more frequently.
Remember the exterior of the refrigerator.
It's best to clean the exterior of your refrigerator with a Microfiber Cloth and a gentle, plant-based cleaner, like the Everyday Surface Cleaner. Wipe off any moisture with a dry cloth so you’re left with a clean surface with no streaks or fingerprints.
You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust and dirt from the top of your refrigerator so that it doesn't get into your food or drink the next time you open the door. Vacuuming can also help reduce allergens in the home. If your refrigerator has wheels and can be rolled out, make enough space to vacuum under the fridge as well as behind it, since these often-neglected places can hold quite a bit of dust and allergens. If you have cats, you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of lost toys that they will promptly chase under the fridge again when you’re done.