Declutter Kitchen | Best Ways To Clean The Refrigerator

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Full disclosure my refrigerator doesn’t look like this picture decluttered or otherwise! Although I am a bit obsessive about keeping my refrigerator decluttered and clean. 

We all have at least one refrigerator

The refrigerator is an essential appliance in every household, responsible for keeping our food fresh and safe to consume. However, many of us tend to overlook the importance of regular cleaning and maintenance for this vital kitchen companion. This can be a manageable task especially if done regualrly.

In the entire house the cluttered, and could be cleaner, refrigerator probably poses the biggest potential for a health hazard.

Cleaning the refrigerator on a regular basis

If you keep your refrigerator and freezer clean as a daily task there is no such thing as a big daunting task of cleaning out a fridge. This is great way to cut down on any cleaning chores and it spends a lot less of your valuable time.

Let’s look at why it’s crucial to clean out your refrigerator regularly, how to clean it properly and thoroughly, the benefits of a clean and well-maintained refrigerator, and when it’s time to consider replacing your refrigerator altogether.

Importance of cleaning out the refrigerator regularly

Regularly cleaning of your refrigerator is more than just a chore; it’s a necessary step to maintain a healthy and hygienic kitchen environment. Here are a few key reasons why cleaning out your refrigerator on a regular basis is important.

Food safety

If you have a large amount of foods and storage containers, with a little bit of this and that, haphazardly strewn about in your refrigerator the odds are higher some of these food items have gone bad. 

Over time, expired or spoiled food can accumulate in the refrigerator, leading to the growth of harmful bacteria and mold. Regular cleaning helps eliminate these potential health hazards and ensures the safety of the food you consume.

This is also a potential time saver. Do you ever just glance in the fridge before you are dashing out the door to go grocery shopping, only to find upon your return the cream cheese in the cardboard box and mozzarella had gone bad. Instead of having to go back to store I could have saved a trip had I taken a minute to check the condition of the food first.

Odor control

Leftover food, spills, and food particles can cause stinky odors that permeate other items in the refrigerator. Regular cleaning helps remove these odors, keeping your refrigerator smelling fresh.

Efficient cooling

A clean refrigerator operates more efficiently. When dust, dirt, and debris accumulate on the condenser coils and vents, it can hinder proper airflow and cooling. Regular cleaning ensures optimum performance, helping your refrigerator maintain a consistent temperature and save energy.

Many new model refrigerators have built in thermometers. I keep a thermostat in my refrigerator and freezers. This is a trick I learned from a health inspector. When health inspectors go out on a call the first thing they check is temperature . Optimal temps are 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fridge and 0 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer,You can adjust them to your preference of course.

How to clean the refrigerator properly and thoroughly

Cleaning your refrigerator doesn’t have to be a daunting task.   I keep up cleaning the fridge, as an ongoing process, because I am not a fan of big daunting cleaning tasks.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure a thorough and effective cleaning process.

Empty the contents

Start by removing all the food items from the refrigerator. Check expiration dates and dispose of anything that is expired or spoiled. 

Have a trash bag handy and toss unwanted items. 

Place the remaining items in a cooler or insulated bag to keep them cool while you clean. There are different ways to handle the food you have removed from the fridge and freezer.

Do what works best for you. If I had to hunt down and scour a cooler first my fridge would not get emptied often.

It is my habit to clean my refrigerator and freezer before a shopping trip when I generally have a small number of items to empty. I put the contents of fridge and freezer in my large kitchen sink with the freezer contents on top. It takes me very little time to empty and clean the interior of my fridge and freezer because I do this regularly enough and the foods are not in danger of thawing because I don’t have a lot of stuff and I am quick about it.

Remove shelves and drawers

The best thing to do is to take out removable shelves, drawers, and bins. Wash them with warm, soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and let them dry completely before placing them back in the refrigerator.

Wipe interior surfaces

An easy way to wipe down the interior surfaces of refrigerator, including the walls, door, and shelves is to use a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water. Pay special attention to spills and stains. For stubborn stains, a solution of baking soda and water can be effective. I set a very hot wet cloth on top of a stubborn stain and it wipes right off.

Clean the gaskets and seals

The rubber gaskets and seals around the refrigerator door can accumulate dirt and grime. Wipe them clean with a cloth dampened with mild detergent and water. Make sure to dry them thoroughly to prevent mold growth.

I run wet Q Tips between the gasket if there is anything unsightly.

Do not forget the condenser coils.

Locate the condenser coils (usually found at the back or beneath the refrigerator) and gently vacuum or brush off any dust or debris. This helps maintain proper airflow and cooling efficiency. The coil is in a very small area and needs air to circulate for optimum efficiency and when clean the coil operates easier and is more environmentally friendly because it will use less energy to operate.

Final touches

Once the interior is clean, return the shelves, drawers, and food items to their respective storage spaces. I always leave an open box of baking soda, and replace regularly, inside the refrigerator to absorb odors.

One does not have to be a professional organizer to keep food in refrigerator organized. If you don’t have a big fancy fridge with built in storage systems you can easily group like foods in larger storage containers. This way if you are looking for something it will be easier to find because the foods are in their proper places, meaning whatever you deem to be its proper place. This really is not hard work and you will have less stuff here and there in the fridge to deal with.

Organizing food saves time when you are in a rush and open fridge to get the big picture of its contents. Remember to empty out the storage containers regularly to clean too.

Benefits of a clean and well maintained refrigerator

Maintaining a clean and well-maintained refrigerator offers numerous benefits that go beyond food safety and your physical health. A clean refrigerator will make finding what you are looking for, at any given time, easier when space is clean and the foods are in their proper places.

Extended lifespan

Regular cleaning and maintenance can help extend the lifespan of your refrigerator. By keeping the components clean and functioning optimally, you reduce the risk of breakdowns and expensive repairs.

Energy efficiency

A clean refrigerator operates more efficiently, saving energy and reducing utility bills. Properly maintained condenser coils, unobstructed vents, and a well-organized interior help the refrigerator cool effectively and maintain a consistent temperature.

Freshness and Food Quality

A clean refrigerator provides a fresher and more hygienic environment for your food. By removing contaminants, odors, and spoilage agents, you ensure that your groceries stay fresh for longer periods, reducing waste and saving money.

When to consider replacing your refrigerator

While regular cleaning and maintenance can prolong the lifespan of your refrigerator, there comes a time when replacement becomes necessary. 

Is it time to replace your refrigerator?

Frequent breakdowns

If your refrigerator requires constant repairs and seems to be failing more frequently, it may be more cost-effective to replace it with a newer, more reliable model. Online comparison shopping is easy these days.

Inefficient performance

If you notice a significant increase in your energy bills or if your refrigerator struggles to maintain proper temperatures, it may be time to consider an upgrade to a more energy-efficient model.

Aging and outdated technology

Refrigerators have come a long way in terms of energy efficiency and features. If your refrigerator is outdated and lacks the modern features you desire, it might be worth exploring new options.

Keeping our families healthy is important to us all. A clean refrigerator and freezer has a positive impact on our health and it really only takes a small amount of time especially if you keep up with maintenance.

If it is time to shop around for a new refrigerator and freezer have fun! There are some pretty cool offerings out there!

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Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutterer and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

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