Your refrigerator is an essential and hard-working appliance in your home. If it’s a gross mess, it’s degrading the quality of your food and putting you and your family at risk. Clear it out, clean it up and keep it organized with the following tips.
Before you can organize your fridge, you have to take stock of what’s lurking inside your fridge, namely expired food, long-forgotten leftovers and unrecognizable container contents. Once you’ve cleared out the muck, it’s time to clear everything else out, according to Reader’s Digest writer Lisa Marie Conklin. Review each item, and if you have any doubt whether something is still edible, it’s best to discard she says. Since you won’t be able to put any food back into the fridge while you clean, transfer anything that’s dangerously perishable to a cooler or freezer, advises New York Times writer Jolie Kerr. You don’t want to compromise the quality of dairy items or raw meat.
You’ll need some elbow grease and an effective cleanser to remove the spills, drips and gunk lining the shelves and drawers of your fridge. The experts at HGTV recommend using a degreasing, all-purpose cleaner comprised of 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 cup clear ammonia and 1/4 cup of baking soda. These ingredients should be mixed in a gallon of hot water and transferred to a spray bottle. You can also pour the mixture into a bowl and apply it with a sponge to every nook and cranny of your fridge’s insides; formidable stains are no match for toothpaste. Kerr suggests removing bins and drawers and washing them in the sink with soap and water just like you would tackle dirty dishes, and a stained interior could look new again with a little help from a Magic Eraser.
The outside of your fridge needs just as much attention as the inside. A microfiber cloth is ideal to remove spots or messes on stainless steel appliances, according to Kerr, while the solution you used for the inside of your fridge is perfect for fridges made of plastic. The top of your fridge has been catching dust and dirt for a while, so make sure to wipe it clean.
Now that your fridge is glistening inside and out, it’s time to clutter it up with food again — in an organized fashion, of course. This might require some reconfiguring of your fridge’s shelves or bins to properly accommodate items. Kerr suggests wiping down condiment bottle tops and bottoms and tightening caps before placing them back into your sparkling fridge.
Taking inspiration from restaurant kitchens to safeguard the quality of your food and to minimize cross-contamination, The Kitchn writer Christine Gallary suggests using door shelves only for condiments; lower shelves for raw ingredients; and drinks, yogurts, deli meats and leftovers should inhabit space on the upper shelves. Designate a drawer for fruits and veggies. Raw meat should get its own drawer as well. If your fridge drawers are stacked on top of each other, meat should occupy the one on the bottom.
Your fridge works hard for you and your family. Do your best to keep it clean and organized to help maintain the highest level of food quality.