With temperatures shooting up during summers, the fridge is probably the most important gadget in kitchen to keep food from going ‘bad’. But is the fridge in your home actually “food-friendly”? Let me put it in another way — “Is your fridge clean, odour free and used in the best possible way to keep food absolutely fresh?”
This question reminds me of the time I was watching another nail-biting episode of MasterChef Australia, where both the contestants and viewers were taken by surprise. Because right in front of their eyes, flown in from their respective homes, were their own fridge and pantry material!
The first thing that came to my mind was ‘thank goodness it was not my fridge!’ What a shock! While I keep things pretty clean, the fridge does get cluttered and a national broadcast displaying the little packets of masalas and leftover bits of butter would be quite annoying. So I promptly went on a fridge cleaning and organizing spree. This is how I did it, in 5 steps, and I bet I burnt off a good many calories in the process!
5 Steps to a Totally Clean Fridge
Your fridge will be squeaky clean and as good as new after these five steps.
Step 1: Make Space and Take out the Food from the Fridge
Remember that food will start getting warmer the minute you take it out, so work without distractions and in a focused manner so that it all can be put back in the fridge within half an hour.
Make space on the kitchen counter or use a large tray to keep all the food from the main refrigerator compartment.
Keep a cool keg/insulated box or simply a container that can be covered with a thick towel for the frozen foods from the freezer.
Now it’s time to transfer stuff out.
Pro Tip : milk, cheese, meats and frozen goods should be taken out right at the end
Step 2: Soap and Rinse the Trays and the Interior of the Fridge
Switch off the fridge and remove the plug from its socket.
Take all the trays out of the fridge— the big and small, side and the main trays, vegetable trays, ice cubes racks. Use diluted dishwashing soap and a gentle scrub to thoroughly soap and rinse them clean. Leave to dry under the fan or use a clean kitchen towel to wipe them down. Leave no trace of soap.
The large glass shelves should be left to dry safely behind a cabinet or in some other clean, dry place so it does not topple over and break. You could also rest it on a towel on the floor in a corner.
Use a fresh, warm soapy solution and squeezed out sponge to clean the interior of the fridge. Don’t forget any groove, knob or notch, because residual food, spills and possible mould attacks begin here. I usually cover a chopstick or a pencil with a clean, old handkerchief and use this for hard to reach areas. A small sized brush is fine too.
Now use a fresh damp sponge/cloth to remove all traces of soap.
Step 3: Clean the Outside of the Fridge
Move the fridge forward to make the back more accessible. Gently clean off any cobwebs or dust from the back of the refrigerator. Pour off any liquid from the detachable tray, if you have been asked to do so by the manufacturer. Avoid interfering with the coils or any metal parts visible.
Use a clean, soapy sponge and clean all the other fridge surfaces thoroughly. Do not use bleach or any strong cleaning agents—your dishwashing soap is fine for this.
Bonus: Feel your muscles stretch as you reach for the top and squat to soap the bottom of the fridge. Yep! It’s a specially designed workout ! No Gym required!
Get the front, sides, top and also include a special cleaning for the handle. Wipe it all dry.
Give the floor below the fridge a swipe with a mop and then push the fridge back to its space.
Switch the fridge on again.
Step 4: Sort the Food for Discarding
Look through the food from the fridge. Dump all the wilted vegetables. Also get rid of anything that you do not recall the origin of (!). Discard cooked food that is more than a few days old. Throw out anything that you did not use for 3 months in the freezer section.
Ensure you clean the containers before loading them in the fridge. In case there were spills, scrub them well, so they don’t mess up the shelves again.
Step 5: Load the Fridge
Return food to the fridge. As you do that, recall the tips about the zones in the fridge. Also, get into the habit of automatically preventing contamination of food. Another simple but often ignored good habit is to cover all vessels with lids to prevent odours from penetrating into each other
Pop some lemon/orange peels in a corner or the fridge to keep it smelling fresh. A small quantity of baking powder is also effective, but I prefer using up the citrus peels for this purpose. Discard and substitute every time you have a fresh peel. Another tip is to get hold of some coffee beans…they make the fridge smell great!
I am sure the fridge will be food-ready and free of all nasty odours after this clean up. And indeed, if the fridge is ever shot for National TV, you can smile and say, “Yes, that is MY fridge!”