Vol.2, No.6

How to thoroughly clean your refrigerator and freezer

Clean your freezer and refrigerator until they are pristine using this quick guide!

Clean refrigerator door
Photo Credit: Doug Nelson
The best time to clean your refrigerator is when you really need to go grocery shopping because the refrigerator is almost empty. At that time, you will have much less to deal with than if you undertake this task when you already have the fridge stocked with food.

First of all, turn off the appliance. Then, take stock of what is in the refrigerator. Now is a good time to throw out any old take-out cartons, limp vegetables or old sauces and marinades that have lived in the door of the refrigerator for far too long. Do the same thing with the freezer. Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because food has been stored in the freezer that it is still good. If something has been in there longer than a couple of months, throw it out. Foods can get freezer burn and absorb smells, and are generally not too tasty after spending a long sojourn in the freezer. Also, throw out the boxes of baking soda that have been in the freezer and refrigerator, and make a note on your shopping list to replace them.

It is a good idea to have a cooler on hand. Put your frozen and refrigerated foods into the cooler until you are finished cleaning your appliance. Most freezers no longer need to defrost, but if yours is one that does, plan in advance for this event and purchase some ice for your cooler.

Prepare a sink full of warm water. You can use either dish soap or baking soda to clean the refrigerator. Pull out the drawers and wash them out thoroughly. You may need an old toothbrush to get into all of the little crevices and corners. Be sure to wipe down the outside of them as well. Rinse, and set them on the counter to dry. Then pull out the shelves and wash them in the same manner. Now you are ready to tackle the inside of the refrigerator. Wipe down all of the interior walls, and pay special attention to the bottom of the refrigerator underneath where the produce drawer is located, as it especially tends to accumulate grime. Also take extra time to clean the inside of the door, as spills from ketchup, sauces and the like can make this area sticky. If you have the option of removing the shelves in the door, do so, and wash them in the sink. If your refrigerator is especially grimy, change the water midway through the job and start fresh.

After you are finished with the refrigerator, begin with the freezer. Usually, the freezer will be easier to clean. Again, make sure your appliance is unplugged. Not only is this safer, but the little bit of frost that accumulates on the freezer walls can cause your sponge to stick to the walls! Needless to say, that makes for a frustrating job. As with the refrigerator, clean the bottom of the freezer really well, and remove the side shelves for cleaning if possible. Also, remove the ice tray and dump out all of the ice, so that you can start fresh.

Take a towel and dry out both the refrigerator and the freezer. If you are able, pull out the refrigerator and wipe down the sides that are normally not seen. Clean off the top of the refrigerator as well. Vacuum the condenser coil on the back, which will save you money on electricity, as your refrigerator will function more efficiently. Also clean the floor underneath the refrigerator.

Carefully put the shelves and drawers back in the refrigerator and freezer. Take your food out of the cooler and organize it. Now you can go shopping and put your purchases in a pristine environment. Don't forget the boxes of baking soda! Every week, before you go to the market, it is a good idea to give the shelves a quick wipe-down, and to throw out any dairy products, produce or leftovers that are past their prime. That way, you will start each week with a clean and organized refrigerator.