Ahhhhh, I just LOVE a clean refrigerator, don’t you? This post is all about Organizing and Cleaning the Refrigerator. It’s mid November and time for my semi-annual refrigerator clean up! Notice I said “clean up” not clean out. I know someone who shall remain nameless, who NEVER cleans their refrigerator! And it isn’t because they keep it sparkling clean, either. The only time it ever gets cleaned out is if I go to visit and do it for them. She jokingly calls me the refrigerator angel.
Organizing and Cleaning the Refrigerator: My Routine
I like my refrigerator to be neat, organized and clean so I make it a habit to stay after it on a regular basis. Cleaning the refrigerator isn’t hard if you make a point to stay with it. Here is how I keep it clean and organized.
Organizing the Refrigerator
I try very hard to keep like things together. The milk and iced tea are on the top shelf beside my delicious chicken eggs. Next shelf down contains an assortment of homemade jams, and canned pickles, and containers of olives, a large tub of Feta cheese and yogurt. Farther down I keep leftovers. Cheese, breakfast and lunch meats are stored in a drawer. Salad and vegetable produce is kept in one of the large drawers at the bottom and fruit in the drawer just above it. Door shelves contain, salad dressings, condiments, yeast, butter, and miscellaneous items like natural maple syrup and juice or lemonade. I do the same thing with the freezer section, keeping like things together with labels visible in both sections.
Cleaning the Refrigerator
Daily – I try to clean up any spills or leaks as they happen by using a wet sponge and dry paper towels. We try to take the time to put things back in place (seriously it doesn’t always happen). I wipe down the door handles and spot clean the outside of the door.
Weekly – The evening before our weekly trash collection, I go through both refrigerators (yes I have two of them) and sort the food. Any thing that somehow has gone bad (leftovers that have been in the frig too long) produce that did not get eaten fast enough, etc.) goes in the compost bucket or the trash depending on what it is. Produce that would be safe for my chickens to eat (see my article here) goes out to the chicken paddock. Then I reorganize the remaining contents so that you can tell what we have in the refrigerator; putting like things together. I wipe down the outside of the doors.
Musgos – Once a week we have musgos for dinner. I learned this years ago from an elderly lady who was a hoot! I had never heard of musgos so I asked what it was. Her response, “Honey, it’s everything in the refrigerator that MUST GO before it turns bad! Yes, it’s a weird combination of food but it helps to get rid of the left overs and cuts down on waste. ” Ever since she told me about this, my family has had musgos for dinner once a week or so. If need be I fill in with macaroni and cheese or another food item that goes well with most foods.
Monthly – I don’t do anything special with my refrigerator unless I have been so busy that I completely ignored it. Then I clean it out.
Just Before a Holiday or Feast Day – I straighten up the refrigerator and get rid of anything that needs to be removed. This makes room for all of the extra food that will be used to make the celebration meals and then to hold all of the leftovers.
Semi-Annual Cleaning of the Refrigerator – Twice a year I do a big clean up of both refrigerators. I clean the fresh food section first. All the food comes out and anything that has gone bad goes in the trash. All jars and containers are wiped off and dried, especially the bottoms. Lids are tightened to prevent spills. The shelves and drawers are removed and washed with warm soapy water and dried.
Next the inside of the refrigerator is wiped down with warm soda water and a sponge. Soda water is just a basin of water to which I add 1/4 cup of baking soda, stirred together until dissolved. For anything stuck on, I use a dish scrubby and then I wipe the inside dry with paper towels. The door gaskets are all cleaned and oiled (more on that later). I do the same thing with the frozen food section only I store the frozen food in another freezer or in an ice chest to keep it frozen.
Then, I move the refrigerator out from the wall and clean behind it. Next I vacuum the coils to remove dust and pet fur. Mine is under the refrigerator but some are behind it. The access to the coils is covered by a plastic vented cover. Once that is removed, it gets a good scrubbing with a brush and warm soapy water, then rinsed and dried.
The top is next and it is usually dusty so I first wipe it with a damp paper towel and then I clean it with a sponge. The sides are wiped clean and dried. Next comes the floor behind the refrigerator (this is actually the place where it normally stands). It is amazing how dirty and dusty it can get under there. I sweep and mop that area and when the floor is dry, the refrigerator gets pushed back into place. Finally I clean the door fronts and handles.
Door gaskets – Did you know that most refrigerators have two door gaskets and it can cost more than $100 to replace each one? Here is a tip that I learned 20 years ago – wash your door gaskets. Yep, clean them really well with warm soapy water. Get down into the folds clean them top, sides and bottom (it can get really gross down there if you never clean it). If you have white gaskets that are stained or have mold growing on them add a capful of household bleach to the wash water. Then I dry the gasket and apply a very thin coating of vegetable oil to the whole gasket on all sides. This helps to preserve it, keeps it subtle and helps it to form a tight seal. Old dried out or very dirty gaskets do not seal well and can cause air leaks that affect the internal temperature of your freezer and fresh food sections.
That’s it I’m done. Phew!
Well, there you have my tips for organizing and cleaning the refrigerator. Once it is done, it’s just a matter of taking the time to maintain it. If you do, you may find that you have a lot less food waste and the semi-annual clean ups won’t take as long. It really is easy to organize and keep the refrigerator clean and tidy.
Do you have more tips for organizing and cleaning the refrigerator?
Please share with us.