While we typically clean the sticky handprints off of the outside of the fridge as part of a regular cleaning routine, the inside often gets neglected. Food drips, spills, and crumbs accumulate on surfaces inside the refrigerator and need to be cleaned up periodically.
Equally important, if you find that foodstuffs are passing their expiration dates before you get a chance to use them, clean them out as often as need be. Don’t let old food sit around stinking up the fridge, because bad smells are tough to remove from a refrigerator.
Start with the Door
When cleaning your fridge, start by cleaning shelves or racks on the inside of the door. Working from the top down, check for any food that needs to be tossed. Shift items from side to side so that you can wipe all surfaces clean. If areas are jam-packed, remove the contents and set aside temporarily, wipe the area clean, then replace items. Be sure to wipe clean any containers that are sticky on the outside prior to replacing.
Any tough or sticky messes on trays or racks might need special treatment. If trays are removable, wash them in warm water with dish detergent. Let them soak for a bit, if necessary. Scrubbing with a non-abrasive nylon scrubber sponge might help loosen the mess. After they’re clean, rinse, dry, and replace.
Don’t forget to clean the door gasket before moving on. Wipe gently with mild soap, getting into the ridges carefully to avoid causing damage. Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.
Shelves and Drawers
After the door is clean and re-organized, move to the shelves inside. Work from the top down so that any falling debris lands in areas that haven’t yet been cleaned. Use the same method as for the door: either shift items from side to side to clean surfaces, or remove items, wipe the area clean, then replace the items. Again be sure to clean the outsides of containers if they are sticky and toss out anything that’s no good.
Also clean inner walls (sides and back) as you work.
If they’re very dirty or sticky, remove drawers and other removable parts and clean with warm water and dish detergent, then rinse well.
The freezer can be cleaned using the same methods as for the fridge. Use a cloth dampened with very hot water to remove drips or spills in the freezer.
But Wait, There’s More
After the interior of the fridge is clean and organized, there’s still work to do. Dust builds up underneath and behind the fridge. Small objects also tend to find their way under the refrigerator. This is the time to unearth the bottle caps, toys, popsicle sticks, and dried-up green peas that accumulate in this space.
How to Clean Underneath
Many refrigerators have a grill on the front toward the floor and underneath the door. These are generally held in place on each side with clips. Give it a little pull and it’ll usually pop right off.
Next, wrap a rag or old towel around a yard stick and use this “tool” to remove any objects under the fridge, such as those mentioned above.
Finally, use a long, narrow attachment tool to vacuum the area clear of any remaining dust. If you don’t have such an attachment on hand, improvise by using a cardboard wrapping paper tube.
Removing larger objects prior to vacuuming prevents you from ending up with bottle caps or similar objects lodged in the vacuum cleaner hose.
Pull It Out (If It Rolls)
Some refrigerators have wheels underneath so that they can be pulled out away from the wall for cleaning ease. In this case, carefully pull the fridge forward and clean the floor area under the fridge as well as the wall behind it.
Since the refrigerator is a food storage space, it’s important to keep it clean. Plan on wiping up spills and crumbs at least once every month or so. Keep a close eye on expiring food as well, and clean it out as often as necessary. These simple maintenance procedures ensure that your fridge will always be clean and hygienic.
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