November 19, 2010

Tips for a Clean and Tidy Fridge

A clean refrigerator makes me smile.   I love to open a clean, well organized, fresh smelling fridge.  Don't you?

There are few things quite as disgusting as a fridge so messy that things get lost in the back and start turning into penicillin.

And unlike other jobs we do around our home, such as washing laundry or making the bathroom sink sparkle, this is a job that actually stays done for more than 2.3 seconds.  Which, for me at least, makes it a pretty satisfying task.

Here are some tips to help you have a fridge that makes you smile.



  CLEANING
  • Choose a cleaning solution:  There are countless things you could use to clean your fridge, and what you choose will depend on the state of your fridge.  Here are the guidelines I use.
    • If there is mold, I use warm water with a little bit of bleach
    • If there is stuck on ickyness, I use warm water with a mild dish soap
    • If the fridge is pretty clean but could just use a wiping out and freshening, i use warm water mixed with some baking soda.
  • Remove all the food from your fridge and put the highly perishable things like meat and milk in a cooler while you clean.  Less perishable things like fruits and veggies will be fine on the counter.
  • Starting at the top and working down, wipe all surfaces with the cleaning solution of your choice. Then rinse using fresh warm water.  Dry with a rag.   
  • Don't forget to clean the rubber gasket around the door too.

ORGANIZING
  • Check the dates on items as you put them back in your fridge. Throw out anything that is past it's prime.
  • Put like foods together on the same shelf.
  • The conventional wisdom is to put raw meats at the bottom of your fridge so that they can't contaminate other foods.  I'm not in the habit of putting messy dripping chunks of poorly packaged raw meat in my fridge, so I don't really see the value of this.  If you get it, feel free to explain it to me.  In the meantime, my meat goes in the deli drawer.  
  • Line your produce drawers with paper towels to help keep them clean longer. 
  • Baskets are great problem solvers!
    • My kids tend to push and shove and  impale each other in the mornings trying to get their preferred flavor of yogurt.  So I've taken the yogurt containers out of that cardboard sleeve that always ends up empty at the back of my fridge taking up space and snapped them apart into individual cups and placed them in a basket.  Problem solved.
    • Do you get the same sandwich ingredients out every day to assemble packed lunches? Why not pile those things in a basket?!
    • Do you often serve garden salads with a choice of dressings?  Place all your salad dressings in an attractive basket with a handle so you can place the whole thing on the table at dinner time and put them all away with one trip to the fridge when you're done!
  • If you turned off or unplugged your fridge while cleaning it, don't forget to turn it back on when you're done!  If I had a carton of spoiled cream for every time I've forgotten that....

FINALLY 

  • Put half a slightly squeezed lemon or lime in a polka dot bowl to keep everything smelling fresh.  (okay, it doesn't have to be a polka dot bowl...but it's better if it is!)    

  •  Note: This is not intended to be a comprehensive description of how to care for your fridge.  Please read your manual.

Do you have any great tips or ideas I missed?

40 comments:

  1. Please come clean my fridge. I've been meaning.needing to do it since like a month after getting our fridge, and that was well over a year ago.

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  2. I've been looking around your blog, you crack me up! I'll gladly buy everything in teal and polka-dots definately make things better. Stop by, domesticdeadline.blogspot.com

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  3. I couldn't keep a lightly squeezed lemon or lime in the fridge - DH would eat it before it made my fridge smell lovely :D

    I do love the basket idea, and I agree - I don't put poorly packaged meat into my fridge either! It's good practice, though, so I put mine in the bottom in a tupperware container (without the lid). I only have the one drawer at the bottom of the fridge, which I use for produce :)

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  4. I appreciate the penicillin joke. Not many people I know would understand.

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    Replies
    1. AKA "science project" ;)

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  5. Love the basket idea! Will use! I keep all of my meat in the bottom drawer because it's colder at the bottom(hot air rises) and will keep my meats fresher, longer. Sometimes they even have a frost on them, when I remove them to cook. Makes me feel better :)

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  6. I love the idea of the baskets and I already line my drawers with paper towels but I am an impulsive shopper and my refrigerator is always packed. In fact I have two refrigerators and a 20' freezer all packed. But I will try the baskets maybe it will help. Thanks, great idea.

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    Replies
    1. You could even use the peel and stick "ceran" wrap. I think they do come with designs on them, to pretty it up.

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  7. The meat. Well, I don't put gross raw meat in the fridge, but my husband hunts, so he does. I've had to clean a couple of pints of deer and elk blood up at times, but putting the meat on the bottom shelf hasn't kept my veggie drawers safe! It tends to trickle down and you have to remove the whole bottom unit regardless:) *sigh* the real trick, catch him before hand!

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    Replies
    1. To keep the blood from running all over your fridge, either put them in a plastic bowl, pan, or even on a cookie sheet... it will all be self contained, and not all over the place.

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  8. A handheld steamer is well worth the investment for this chore and many others. Easily gets the gunk off the rubber seal and disinfects the handles and easily cleans the textured exterior.

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  9. I love how you have a little disclaimer at the end stating that this is not a comprehensive way to clean the fridge! have read your blog from the top and it's just lovely. you're all lovely :)

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  10. I saw on pinterest a suggestion to line the shelves with Glad Press N Seal so this way you can just change that out once in a while - should make cleaning the shelves a little easier

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    Replies
    1. I do this and it works GREAT!

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    2. tried it...didn't work!!

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  11. I love that Glad press n seal idea, I may have to try that. Most food service regulations require the most contaminated products to be stored the lowest just in case of spills or leaks. As long as you have your meat well contained, it should be fine. I don't clean my fridge that often because I hate taking all the stuff out, but I do go over it often with a rag, shoving bottles around and hitting the obvious drips and drops. It's also best to clean spills up as soon as they happen, even if they're small spills.

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  12. I love your suggestions. I would add two things:

    First: you don't have to clean the entire refrigerator all at one time. When life gets busy, sometimes I just clean one shelf a day (or one shelf a week). By doing that, I can go much longer between the times when I actually have to empty the whole fridge to clean it.

    Second: you'll want to vacuum the coils on your refrigerator, if you can figure out where they are hiding them. If you can get a long skinny brush (like they sell with dryer cleaning kits now), you can use that to also brush off the coils, if they are under the fridge like mine are. I did learn the hard way, however, that you need to unplug the fridge while doing that, and be careful not to clean so vigorously that you bend the fan blade in the back of the fridge (where you can see it until the repair man comes to fix it). My fridge also has a drip pan down there, next to the coils, that gets pretty nasty, so it's nice to clean that once in a great while, too, but just be careful not to crack it or you'll have to replace it.

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  13. I'm telling you, you are a genius! I thought *I* had bins and schedules all figured out! I am SO hitting the dollar tree tomorrow! Salad dressing in a handled basket instead of the door!? Pure genius! Paper toweling in the crisper! Fabulous!

    I worked a long time in restaurants and it's regulation to keep the meat on the bottom. I do this in my own home, just in case. And with four kids and a husband rummaging for yogurt or whatever, it makes sense to keep the meat out of their way. My little kids like to help cook, but there is a clear rule that they are not allowed to touch raw meat. (Waitress turned nurse. It happens. lol)

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  14. Your basket idea is genius. My mother in law uses small lazy susans in her refrigerator and those work wonderfully as well. She keeps dressings, jellies, and other jarred items on them and it helps making finding stuff very simple. I have two small children and an child-like husband, so the lazy susan idea doesn't work for me yet, but baskets will be great!!

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  15. I line produce bins with bubble wrap. It cushions the fruit,etc. and can be discarded easily.

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  16. Lol!! You are funny! I love how you said polk a dot bowl! I read it twice like 'What??" "What does that do??"!! You got me! Thanks for the tips!

    iamlizziejones@blogspot.com

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  17. Just read the 31 days to an organized home and am now working my way through your other posts! I'm loving your sense of humor and all of your helpful tips! With a new baby on the way I find myself thinking "I won't have time to keep my house looking that perfect", but you have lots of kiddos running around and you have the time to keep everything looking wonderful. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  18. The raw meat issue is a restaurant thing....but think about it! Even wrapped in the store packaging, sometimes it can leak, and you dont want it leaking all over the place, let alone onto other food items. Besides, the lowest part is the coldest, and that's where you should also store your eggs, and milk/dairy products...the opposite of your picture. Nice job, by the way. Only negative thing I see to the baskets is that if they're too big, or bulky, you will lose some available shelf space, so I guess then you have to prioritize your needs, as in maybe smaller baskets.

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  19. I just came across your blog today, and I have read many posts!! I really enjoy them! I will continue to visit! :)

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  20. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE ALL THIS TIPS! AAAMAAZING :)

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  21. True fact: sometimes I pray for a days long power outage so I am forced to clean my fridge :(. #ilackmotivation.

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  22. Woohoo..I just cleaned our fridge this past weekend and I know it was clean b/c DH said hey the fridge looks great. Thanks for the motivation boost :)

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  23. i have a cheery teal polkadot!!! cheapo plastic serving tray i found at the dollar store, i put that on the bottom of my fridge to place meats on for storage or defrosting, so much easier than pulling out a meat drawer to clean! :D

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  24. How do you feed a family of 7 with so little in your fridge? I only have 3 people in my house and I have 2-3 times that at all times. LOL

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  25. I know this is a supremely old post, but a great way to keep your fridge deodorized is to fill a mug halfway with ground coffee and hide it in the back of the fridge. Same idea as keeping a box of baking soda in there, only you get the yummy coffee scent too! (I have a reaaaally old bag of decaf that I didn't like, so instead of throwing it out I use it for this trick.) I switch out the grounds every two months or so...typically I do it when I change the filter in our Brita pitcher. You can put the coffee grounds in your compost when you're done too! Hope this helps somebody :] LOVE the blog!

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  26. How often do you change the lemon?

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  27. Loving the idea of putting like foods in baskets. Clever.

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  28. The idea behind the meat is that accidents happen even to those best prepared. Sometimes the best way to thaw and or "keep" raw meat is to store it in the refrigerator. It all depends on the kind of meat, when you bought it, how you bought it (fresh vs frozen), and when you plan on using it. Thawing meat in the microwave (even with the defrost setting) ends up cooking the meat which ruins it for a lot of dishes. You don't want the meat to cook. You want it thawed.

    Another reason is for marinades. I have a container of Tilapia in a lemon marinade in the bottom drawer of my fridge right now. I was able to park it there last night and it will be delicious by dinner time. Yes, it's in a container but even the best laid plans can go awry. It's just a safer idea to keep it down low. If something leaks I know it didn't hurt any of the other foods.

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  29. One of the fastest ways to thaw anything is to first put it in a sealed plastic bag. If it was frozen in the original wrap with foam bottom, unwrap it and then put it in the bag.
    I then put the bag in a container of hot water. I use a large metal bowl. When the water cools I replace it with more hot water and turn the bag over. As it thaws I break the pieces apart and remove the foam bottom if I couldn't get it off before putting it in the bag. Some things will thaw in a matter of minutes. Even for a last minute supper you can use something out of the freezer. It works very quickly for chicken pieces. I've even thawed a small roast this way but of course it takes longer. it's fast and safe if you just do it when you need it and not leave it for hours. Water in the bag is just from the thawing process and probably not a leaky bag.

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  30. I have found if I clean one shelf a day I can keep a clean and organized fridge. Things don't seem to get lost in the back and turn into science projects. Works for me thought I'd share.

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  31. I want to share my experience here.
    I have a LG refrigerator where the fridge stopped being cold, but the freezer still worked. i called http://www.bergenrefrigeration.com/repairs.htm . One Man came over and fixed it inside of an hour. Very pleased.

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  32. I love cleaning (weird? Maybe. Instant gratification? Yes.) but I dislike (read: hate) cleaning my fridge. This post almost makes it sound fun!!!

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  33. Hi Kelly
    Thank you so much for an inspirational blog. I loved your tip about baskets for stuff in the fridge - actually, I went right down and bought myself 4 baskets, and now my freshly cleaned fridge looks perfectly tidy and well organized. I think it'll be so much easier to keep the fridge clean in the future. Thanks!

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