Another interesting “holiday” today – it is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day! Are you planning on celebrating? Hmmm, not sure if that is a celebrating kind of thing, maybe for those of you who are neat freaks. For folks like me who are not a big fan of the chore of cleaning it is something we need to do though. Here are some tips to get you started.
Oh, and this is my refrigerator before it has been cleaned out. I need to do it too, but instead I am writing this post about it. Ha! I am hoping to get it done this weekend because it needs it badly! If any of you who are nearby love cleaning out refrigerators I am happy to let you get your kicks doing mine though.
Cleaning the Inside Of Your Refrigerator
- Go Shelf by Shelf
Instead of emptying the entire fridge out, I prefer to go shelf by shelf from the top to the bottom. This way the foods that I am keeping do not sit out as long. Plus, if something happens and I get pulled away from the job it is easier to stop and go back later. If you decide to do it all at once instead, just use a cooler to keep your food cold while you are working.
- Food Removal
As you remove the food decide whether it is going to go back in or needs to be thrown away. Science experiments of leftovers are the easiest to get rid of. Check the expiration dates on any items you want to keep. Remember that sometimes the expiration date means if not open. If you have opened an item see if it needs to be used within a certain time frame. Use the look and smell test too – if it looks funky or smells funky get rid of it (unless it is supposed to smell that way). Plus, wipe off packaging as needed – you know if you have kids there is always gunk on the ketchup bottle and jelly jars at least!
- Remove Shelves and Wash
Take out shelving and other removable pieces as you go. If you have glass shelves let them sit out for a bit to warm up before washing them in warm soapy water. Plastic pieces you can wash right away. Dry well.
- Wipe Down Inside Walls
While you have the shelving out, now is the time to wipe down the inside walls of the fridge. I use warm soapy water on this too with a clean rag. If you have stuck on food try to wet it a bit and wait a minute or two and then try to wipe again. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can be helpful too but I try to avoid using a lot of chemicals inside the refrigerator. Dry the walls off with a clean cloth.
- Cracks and Crevices
Of course the spills always go into those hard to reach places. Use that soft toothbrush in warm soapy water again to help clean out those areas and then wipe dry well with a clean cloth.
- Remove the Drawers
Take out any drawers and wash well and wash the interior walls of the fridge that are covered by the drawers usually. When replacing be sure to re-adjust any air flow levers you may have.
- Clean the Door Shelves
Follow the same steps as the shelves for checking food, washing dividers, and general cleaning.
- Freezer Cleaning
It is basically the same kind of thing. Throw out expired food or any that has freezer burn or lots of ice crystals inside. This is a good time to try and organize a bit in here too when you put things back in.
- Replace Filters and Bulbs
If you have water filters or light bulbs of any kind (inside or out) now is a time to check them and replace any that need it. Make note of the types you need and put it into an app on your phone for easy access next time you need a replacement.
- Check and Replace Door Seal
The seal around the inside of the door keeps the cold air in and the hot air out. These get worn. Use a piece of paper to test the seal by placing it between where the door closes and if you can pull the paper out easily you need to replace the seal. You can by seals at local appliance stores, hardware stores, or online. Replacement is fairly simple and you probably will only need a screwdriver as your only tool. Make sure to do the paper test again after you install the new one just to make sure it is installed well.
- Check the Thermostat
It is easy to bump dials when cleaning. Make sure you note what temperatures (numbers) your refrigerator and freezer sections are set at before you begin and then re-check that they are set there when you are done.
- Replace the Baking Soda
Yes, baking soda really does help with smells inside your refrigerator. Now is the time to replace with a new fresh box. Tip: You do not have to throw away the old box, use that for cleaning the sink drains out!
Cleaning the Outside of Your Refrigerator
- Wipe Down the Outside Surfaces
Take off all the magnets and artwork from the sides and the doors. Take off the miscellaneous stuff that has accumulated on the top of the fridge (we keep cereal, crackers, etc. up there, my mom did that too). Use the cleaner of your choice, and what is safe for your fridge, to wipe down the doors, sides, handles, the top, and all. I personally like Clorox Wipes or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for this job.
- Ice/Water Dispenser
If you have a bottom grate in this area be sure to take that out and wash in warm soap water. Wipe down all the buttons, switches, and walls where you put your glass. A soft toothbrush dampened with warm soapy water can help if you have gunk build up in cracks and crevices.
- Clean the Coils
They will be usually on back or bottom of the fridge. Unplug your refrigerator while you do this just to be safe. Use a vacuum with brush or crevice attachment (as needed) to get all that dust off. If there is a cover over the coils (like if it is on the bottom) make sure to clean that well also. Plug the fridge back in and put back in place.
That should make your refrigerator look, smell, and work better for you! Do you have any additional tips you would like to share?