If you know me, you know I’m a person who likes to keep things clean. I especially pride myself on a nice spic-and-span kitchen, with the stainless steel appliances and kitchen island wiped down to perfection. Imagine my horror, then, when I looked into the fridge this morning and realized…I’m one of those people with a disgusting refrigerator!
Don’t get me wrong- from the outside it’s picture perfect. Streak-free, no fingerprints, everything tidy right down to the tray under the water and ice dispenser. But open the doors and suddenly you’re hit with spilled juice dribbles, white rings from underneath the milk jug, a streak of hot sauce from a once-mighty breakfast burrito and what has to be three weeks’ worth of suspect-looking Tupperware full of leftovers I’m frankly afraid to view. How did this happen to me?
Fear not, fellow Type A neat-freaks: you’re not alone. Cleaning out your refrigerator can be a simple task that you can do once a week to stay on top of the accumulation and basic grunge of everyday living. For the big jobs, follow this link for a handy checklist from Real Simple on how to give your refrigerator a deep cleaning in only 20 minutes, but you can also just follow these handy tips for a 5-minute weekly spot-clean sure to keep your refrigerator fresh, clean and free of nastiness.
Clean the fridge on Trash Day- This way you can just pitch all the questionable looking fruits, veggies and meats that are past their use-by date right into the bin and take it straight out to the curb. No stinky garbage to contend with! Also, if you’re like me and prefer to use the disposable food storage containers instead of the pricey, reusable kind, you can just toss any containers you’re scared to open right into the trash too, avoiding a run-in with your gag reflex.
Windex is your friend! -The shelves on most modern fridges are made of tempered glass, making a glass cleaner like Windex the ideal cleaning agent. Clear the shelves one at a time, top to bottom, and clean with a cloth sprayed with Windex. (Don’t actually spray the Windex into the fridge, as it might contaminate any uncovered food on the lower shelves.)
Baking Soda, Baking Soda, Baking Soda!- This wonder substance can be used to freshen and deodorize virtually anything, but its ability to keep odors from forming in the refrigerator is really what put it on the map as a household cleaning staple. These days you can even buy baking soda in a fridge-friendly pod that suctions right to the inner fridge wall! I prefer to go old-school with a nice 50-cent box of Arm and Hammer with the top ripped off. It’s cheap, it’s effective, and it makes all the difference. (Just don’t use the same box of baking soda that you have open for deodorizing in, say, a cookie recipe, because that’s just gross.)
Time to shine!- Now that the inside of your fridge is all spiffy, make the exterior gleam with a mix of equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. This keeps the stainless steel streak-free and squeaky-clean without any residue or buildup. For extra disinfecting power, run a cleaning wipe down the door handles, where germs love to hide. I like Clorox Wipes myself. An alternative to the water-vinegar combo if you’re really in a hurry is a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Not only does it take about 17 seconds to clean the whole outside of the fridge, but it also leaves behind minimal residue, keeping your fridge from looking dull.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever found in your fridge? Let us know in the comments below.