How to clean out and reorganise one of the hardest working household appliances
Is your fridge filled with fuzzy UFOs (unidentified food objects) and duplicate jars of jams and sauces because you can’t find – or remember – what’s in there? Add this hard-working appliance to the cleaning list and set yourself up for reduced waste, organised shelves and easier maintenance.
Although you might be tempted to start tossing immediately, there is a big step before that.
First, plan the storage areas, or zones, in the fridge. Depending on your situation and the size of your appliance, you might group food types together, arrange items according to height, or set up zones for family members or roommates.
Unless you have an appliance with a dual cooling system, consider temperature when organising your fridge. Different zones are better for some things than others.
The storage area in the door is not as cold as the inside of the fridge, making it a good place to store condiments and juice.
The main component in the bottom of the fridge is the coldest, so that’s where you should put meat, fish and poultry.
The top shelf is good for herbs and already-cooked items.
Dial down the humidity for the fruit storage drawer and up for the vegetable drawer.
SORTING AND PURGING
Sort and group items as you remove them. For example: Juices together, condiments together, and so on. If necessary, store things in an ice chest while you work. Throw out anything past its prime or expiration date.
Once the fridge is empty, remove shelves and drawers and wash them in warm, soapy water in the sink. For stubborn, sticky spills, try a nonabrasive paste of baking soda and water, heated vinegar or hot water. Be careful: A rag with hot water won’t crack a shelf, but boiling water will.
Wipe the inside walls, floor and ceiling using a spray bottle filled with vinegar or a solution of mild dish soap and water. To wipe freezer drawers, shelves and interior, use vinegar in a spray bottle or dip a microfibre cloth in warm water.
Use the same solution for the top and exterior. Take off magnets and wipe these and the fridge surface before re-applying. To remove fingerprints from stainless-steel surfaces, buff with a dry microfibre cloth or wipe with a stainless-steel cleanser. Put cleansers on the cloth, not the appliance. Wipe with the grain. Use a non-abrasive surface cleaner or dish soap and water with a microfibre cloth to clean handles.
PUTTING THINGS BACK
Use bins you pull out like a drawer to contain clutter. Bins make it easier to wipe shelves and double as trays when you want to take out condiments. Keep raw meat, fish and chicken on a shallow tray to catch spills.
Use masking tape to label bins, drawers, shelves and leftover containers. When freezing leftovers, use a zippered storage bag to save room.
Clean the fridge handles daily. Clean the shelves every few months and wipe the interior and exterior and the vacuum coils every six months.