Cleaning the fridge is one of those chores that just has to be done every now and then. A clean fridge is a hygienic environment in which to store food and chill drinks – meaning fresher and tastier food and no nasty mould or bacteria that can make you ill.
What’s more, keeping your fridge and freezer regularly looked after and in good working order can extend its lifespan – meaning you get more out of your investment.
Manufacturers tend to recommend that you clean your fridge at least once a year, but obviously you should use your own judgement to assess the condition of your fridge’s interior – it may need cleaning every month!
If you’ve looked in your fridge and it’s less than squeaky clean, it’s time to take action. Here’s how to go about it:
Remove all items from the fridge
Take everything out and check for freshness. If you find any foodstuff that’s past its use-by date, throw it out. Check fresh fruit and vegetables and use common sense to decide whether it’s OK to keep. Perhaps make a ‘use today’ pile for making tonight’s dinner?
Switch the appliance off
There are two schools of thought here: some people unplug the fridge for cleaning, some don’t bother. The reason for switching it off is that the fridge door will be open for some time while you get on with the job of cleaning, meaning extra energy consumption if it’s not turned off. However, if you’re just giving the fridge a quick clean and minimise any open door periods as much as you can, the electricity used to power it back up afterwards may not give you any net benefit in terms of energy savings. It’s up to you.
Remove shelves and drawers
Take out all the removable parts, such as glass shelves, vegetable baskets, and door trays and dividers. Wash each item individually in hot soapy water, taking great care to let glass shelving come to room temperature first so as to avoid breakage due to sudden heat shock.
Clean the fridge interior
Now that the fridge is empty, clean the plastic surface thoroughly with a mild detergent, ideally one that has antimicrobial and disinfectant properties. Use a sponge, non-abrasive scourer or microfibre cloth for best results. Work from top to bottom and pay particular attention to the bottom, the back and the door of the fridge. Treat hard stains by applying a warm, wet cloth to it for a few minutes to make the stain easier to remove. Rinse your cleaning cloth regularly to keep it clean.
Wipe down the fridge exterior
Using a mild detergent as above, clean the outside of the fridge from the bottom downwards. Don’t forget to give the rubber door seal a good wipe too – food debris often gets trapped there.
Put everything back in
Once your fridge is nice and clean, put back the clean and dry interior shelving, vegetable drawers and all other parts. Next, refill your fridge with food and drinks items, making sure any dirty containers are wiped clean before being put back in the fridge.
Keep your fridge smelling fresh and clean
It goes without saying that if you place open containers of food inside your fridge, the smell will linger. The same goes for food that has gone bad – do make it a habit to check your fridge contents on a regular basis. Handy tips to eliminate odours include placing an open box of baking soda or some freshly ground coffee inside the fridge to trap bad odours.