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Cleaning Out The Fridge

by Judy Brown

One of the challenging jobs that many ofClean the fridge out us put off is cleaning out the refrigerator.  Why do we tend to procrastinate when it comes to cleaning out the fridge?

Do you have many UFOs (Unidentifiable Fridge Objects)? Do you have about a dozen plastic containers that keep getting shifted from one spot to another because you are afraid to look in them? Do you buy extra jars of mustard or pickles because you thought you had some but don't see them in the fridge? Then you find the ones you already had hidden behind something, so then you end up with two of everything?

Well don't worry, this is not a fatal condition and once you get past the procrastination of the fridge wars it really doesn't take all that long to get it looking (and smelling) good again.

Now if you do keep putting off doing the job, because it seems like such an overwhelming chore, think of what it must have been like for the pioneers. They likely had a root cellar and a fridge like we have today would have seemed like heaven to them. They would have loved to scrub up something so useful and I bet it would have taken pride of place in the pioneer kitchen. Our problem is we take these things too much for granted.

One good thing about cleaning out the fridge is that when the racks are sparkling and the items are set out nicely, it is not only easier to find everything, it is cheaper to keep everything cool. You can see the contents without having to bend down and dig through a big mess and the air can circulate freely so takes less power to run.

If you have really let this go, start by taking everything out. It's good to do this before you go shopping on a day when you are feeling like you haven't got a thing to eat. Take a picnic cooler and store your frozen stuff in it while you clean the freezer area. If you have a frost-free fridge, this will just be a general wipe-down or scrub with bleach and water then wipe dry with paper towels or an old bath towel. (Not too much bleach.)

Have a big garbage bag handy and throw out all the UFOs. When the fridge is empty, take out the racks and crispers and soak them in the bathtub in a mild solution of bleach and water. Then sprinkle the inside of the fridge with baking soda, and wash it all down with a mixture of vinegar and warm water. If you have stains inside, spray the walls or bottom with a bit of bleach and let it soak while you wipe off the jars and containers you will be putting back in after you have cleaned everything, including the racks. By the time you finish the interior, the racks in the tub should be ready to scrub with an SOS pad, rinse and they should be like new.

When you put everything back in, be sure that you have things grouped so you have like items in one area and it will be easy to see what you have or what you are nearly out of. If you make a habit of doing a quick clean up when something spills and straighten things when they get messy, it will be easier to clean next time. Try to do this at least every two weeks. You will always have a good-looking fridge and your UFOs might even be - sort of - recognizable.

Keep your fridge at least 3/4 full for optimum energy savings. A bare fridge wastes energy but if you are low on food, fill the space with jugs of water to keep it to the 3/4 full state.

Keep an opened box of baking soda in a corner on one of the shelves to keep the interior fresh and clean smelling. When it gets old and you think it isn't working any longer, pour the baking soda down your drains to keep them running free and fresh smelling too.

Every now and then, say every six months or so, move the fridge out from the wall and vacuum off the coils at the back. Be careful and do this gently. It will add to the life of the appliance if you keep it from getting a heavy build up of dust.

I won't get into defrosting, but remember even if you have to defrost, it is a whole lot easier than digging a root cellar, or having an icebox with melting ice that has to be replaced every few days. Take pride in your nice clean fridge and think how much better off you are than your forefathers were. It might be just a bit easier to keep it clean every day.

Here's a page with fridge facts and a quiz, as well as tips on defrosting, proper cooling and a bit more: Fight Bac - Chill

Copyright © 2003-2004 Judy Brown