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How to Clean Your Fridge in a Few Easy Steps

by TopBusinessView

I’ll go ahead and say it: You probably need to clean your fridge more often. I probably need to clean my fridge more often. Refrigerators are like revolving doors of produce, meats, condiments, dairy products, takeout containers, beverages, and who knows what else, all with varying origins, expiration dates, and levels of crust dried on top (maybe that last one’s just me). If you think about it for too long, it’s bound to give you the yuck.

But beyond getting rid of smells, sticky stains, or slimy puddles, cleaning your refrigerator is also the healthy thing to do. Fridges are—and I don’t mean to generalize here—gross. According to the USDA, a refrigerator’s low temperature is not enough to stop the growth of germs, while Michigan State University points out that fridges can be breeding grounds for listeria, a common food-borne bacteria.

Health and hygiene aside, though, a clean fridge can be a quality of life improvement in its own right—making produce, leftovers, and snacks all the more craveable. And luckily, cleaning your refrigerator regularly makes the task easier in the long run. So grab those gloves and dish soap.

Take it all out.

To really get into the cracks and crevices, you have to empty out your fridge. Move everything into a cardboard box to keep all of the bottles, jars, and other containers nearby. If anything in the box leaks, you can throw it out when you’re done. Use this step as a chance to check expiration dates and reconsider your condiment collection. Do you really need that novelty hot sauce from your road trip last year?

If you’re worried about perishables spoiling while you clean, you can place ice packs on any particularly sensitive foodstuffs. Or, if you have an insulated cooler, you can use that instead of the box. But ideally, this whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour or so. The USDA suggests a “2-Hour Rule” for leaving food out of the refrigerator, which is more than enough time to deal with all that grime.

Odds are, as you remove items, you’ll cross paths with dried-out herbs, stray crumbs, or other dusty stuff. Sweep out with a dustpan and brush, or give your fridge surfaces a once-over with a vacuum cleaner. Now onto the fun part.

Scrub, scrub, scrub.

For regular cleanings (aim for once a month), clearing out expired food and scrubbing with a soapy sponge is all you need. First, remove any removable shelves and drawers. Clean these with hot water and dish soap in the sink, then wipe away excess moisture with a dry cloth (microfiber is great if you have it). 

With the shelving done, move onto the main event—the fridge itself. Get a bucket and a sponge, fill it with warm water, add dish soap, and stir until sudsy. It’s time to scrub: As with cars or furniture, work from the top to the bottom. That way, when dirt runs down with the soapy water, it’s not dripping onto areas you’ve already gotten sparkly. Once you’re done with the interior, wipe down the outside of your fridge as well. If you have a stainless steel refrigerator, consider using a dedicated stainless steel cleaner to keep things extra shiny.

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