The good thing is: It keeps cool so you don’t have to clean it every day. However, you should clean your fridge thoroughly from time to time, so that everything in there stays fresh and safe. Working in a lab I needed to take care of my space in the fridge so that everybody stays healthy and germs won’t celebrate parties in there. I kept some of my old lab routines to keep my kitchen clean. Here is how I care for the “freshkeeper” who cares for my beloved dairy friends. They deserve a clean fridge. And so do you.
Especially, if you are a busy cook don’t forget to give this never sleeping working-horse some TLC.
Cleaning the fridge like a lab pro
When we moved to Morocco we started with nothing. Our stuff was placed in storage in Germany and we had no nest egg. We rented an apartment and got some essential things. Soon we realized we needed a fridge, too! But we had no cash left for a new one. We looked around for a used one and found one, very old, moldy and filthy. It was the only one we could afford then and we paid with a check asking the vendor to only cash it after another week when my husband’s salary would be paid.
Ok. There I was with the most filthiest fridge I had ever seen. I recapped what I had learned in my time at work. I had to get rid of bacteria and mold fungi. Well, this was totally doable with a little elbow grease and simple means: Dishwashing liquid and vinegar.
Clean Fridge – Easier than you might think
Chances are your fridge is not as dirty as ours was. So, better forget harsh chemicals and fancy products when it comes to cleaning the fridge. All you need for the mundane clean-up is some scent-free dishwashing soap and white vinegar. Easy and frugal.
Turn off power before any major cleaning job. Make a nice soapy warm water with the dishwashing liquid. Take everything out of the fridge. Take drawers and shelves out and wash the entire inside of your fridge. Wash drawers and shelves in the sink and dry them.
Now comes the disinfecting part. In the cool and moist environment, there may build up mould easily and you won’t see the beginning of it. Vinegar is a safe and natural means you can use to get rid of any fungi hanging around your fridge interior. Wipe down everything inside the fridge. Use only vinegar for disinfecting the fridge. It is great for cleaning and non-toxic.
If you occasionally want to disinfect special spots in the fridge, for example, because some meat juice got spilt use isopropyl rubbing alcohol (70%). First wipe away contamination with paper towels, then spray rubbing alcohol on that spot only, trying not to inhale it. Let it sit for 30 seconds and wipe dry carefully. Rubbing alcohol will vanish into the air anyway, but you should make sure it is not getting in touch with food! Only use if necessary and do not use anything else to disinfect. Disinfecting agents are usually toxic for humans, too, like bleach!
Perfect! Do this once a month and your food has a decent place to call home: a sparkly clean fridge.
How to keep the fridge fresh between cleaning sessions
First of all, take care that everything that goes in there is clean from the outside. In most homes, there won’t be biohazardous things to go there (though I’m not sure about some containers that hide in the back of my fridge). However, bacteria and fungi can easily grow in spilt food and liquids. Wipe jars and close them carefully. Put raw meat and fish on a plate or into a box. Place raw meat just above the drawer. This is not only the coolest spot but from here any dropping juices will not spoil the entire interior or drop in food underneath. Take out rotten food asap.
Check for rotten food or spills daily.
If something got spilt, DO NOT plan to clean the whole fridge and rip everything out! This is a great way to procrastinate until the mess got dry and even harder to remove. Instead, grab some paper towels and wipe away the spoilage. Go after that with a damp microfiber cloth. Disinfect if necessary with rubbing alcohol as stated above. That’s it.
In case something has dried up in there try to rehydrate or rub it with a mixture of baking soda and warm water.
How to get rid of bad odours
Sometimes you put something in your fridge that may be delicious but stinky. Or something rotten has poisoned the good air. Don’t worry, because you don’t have to rip this whole thing apart again. Put a small plate with baking powder inside your fridge and it will capture the bad smell. Ground coffee works, too. To avoid bad air use air-tight containers whenever appropriate.
If you think you might want some extra nice smell in there use a drop of natural peppermint or lemon oil on a cotton ball. Let it not touch food. You could also use vanilla extract for baking.
Special occasion: Clean the outside of your fridge
Once in a while, you should clean the top, sides and back of the fridge, too. Wipe down door seals with soapy water using dish-washing detergent. Dry with a kitchen towel. Wipe down areas with fingerprints weekly with a damp microfiber. If you have some sticky greasy layer on your fridge because it stands close to the oven use baby wipes to wipe it away. If you have no baby wipes use vegetable oil and paper towels or microfiber cloth.
Once a year remove dust from the back of your fridge. Use a broom and gently brush it off. You can also use the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner and vacuum on low.
So, now you have a nice and fresh sparkling clean fridge.