Even if you don’t see your fridge Dirty, chances are it’s a haven a lot Warts According to the NSF, the veggie bin is one of the germiest places in the house. And the meat compartment is not far behind.
Why is the fridge a hotbed for bacteria? “Your refrigerator is one of the most used appliances in the kitchen,” says Laura M. Ali, MS, RDN, a nutritional consultant and culinary nutritionist in Pittsburgh, PA. “It’s probably opened and closed multiple times a day by multiple people, which means there could be germy hands on the door handles and on the food inside.” Factor in spills, leaks, and rotting materials and, well, you get the picture.
But disinfecting isn’t the only reason to clean your fridge. A clean, organized fridge makes cooking less stressful and can help reduce food waste. And it doesn’t have to be a big project, either.
If you want a sparkling clean fridge with minimal effort, this guide can get you started.
Break it down. In a perfect world, we’d all have clean, shiny refrigerators. But really, who has time? Apparently, not many of us. Studies show that half of people do it two to four times a year. By comparison, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends cleaning the appliance weekly. If that never happens, there’s a better way. “When you don’t have time to clean the entire fridge at once, break it up into parts and do a little at a time,” says Ali. “Then, when you have a chance, tackle another section and repeat until the refrigerator is clean and organized.”
Get the right gear. Before diving in, you’ll want to have the right supplies on hand. While spraying the shelves with disinfectant may seem like a good strategy, food safety experts recommend sponging everything with soap and water to avoid contaminating food. (Now is the perfect time to toss your germy old sponge and replace it with a pristine new one.) And don’t forget to grab a few clean dishcloths or paper towel rolls to dry everything off.
Think from the top down. With all those shelves, drawers and compartments, it can be hard to know where to start. Ali recommends working vertically. “Start with the top shelf, unload it, and wipe down the shelf and sides,” she says. “Organize the items you want to keep and those to go, then put the keepers in the fridge.” If you notice any dribbles or drips in the jars or bottles, wipe them well as well.
Next there are drawers and door compartments. While it’s perfectly fine to sponge these off, if you have a little extra time, it’s best to remove them and give them a good scrub in the sink. Once everything is fresh and clean, dry it all off and pop an open box of baking soda on the top shelf to absorb the smell. Then, wipe the door handle and you’re done!
Prevention is everything. A little organization can do wonders for maintaining all your hard work. “To make future cleanups easier, invest in some clear plastic refrigerator bins to store yogurt, condiments, or other small items that tend to get lost,” says Ali. “It’s much easier to take out a bin, empty it and clean it than it is to clean an entire shelf.” Clear bins make it easier to see what you have. Of course, there will be some items that don’t fit. Arrange them on shelves by size, hiding tall items at the back and short items at the front for better visibility
Any time is a good time to build a shelf or two, Ali is a big fan of tackling the task right before grocery shopping. That way, you can take stock of what you have, toss anything that’s worn out or no longer needed, and replace low-moving items. But if you are short on time, focus on crisper. “Since this is where my fresh produce is stored, I want to make sure it’s clean, sterile and nothing is spoiled,” says Ali. And for whom there is no time?
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, changing your sleeping habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.