Sure, we all try to clean out our refrigerator regularly, mopping up spills as they happen and discarding obviously outdated food. But Spring Cleaning your fridge isn’t just about getting rid of the nasty stuff (though there is that) — it will also save you money. Here’s how.
You will need:
Coolers to store the contents of your fridge while you clean
Bath or beach towels
Sink full of warm, soapy water
Bucket of soapy water
Soft scrub brush
Spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner (or homemade mix)
Vacuum cleaner with crevice attachment
- Always unplug your refrigerator before cleaning. If you need help to pull it away from the wall, get it. I’ve thrown my back out trying to be Ms. Independent doing this, and it sucked. For days.
- Once unplugged, empty the contents of your refrigerator and its door. Check expiration labels as you work, and toss expired items into the trash can. Stash everything else in coolers, keeping meat separate from everything else.
- Remove the shelves and baskets from the fridge. Wash them in the sink of soapy water, and rinse well. Let dry on bath towels spread on your kitchen counters.
- Dip a cleaning cloth into the bucket of soapy water and wipe down the empty interior of your fridge from top to bottom, left to right. Rinse frequently. Repeat with the door.
- For stubborn, stuck-on spills, dip a clean cloth into the soapy water and sprinkle it with a small amount of baking soda. This will act as a gentle abrasive, allowing you to get the mess up. Rinse with warm soapy water followed by clean water. Wipe dry.
- Dip the scrub brush into the bucket of warm, soapy water and clean the gasket seal. Make sure to gently open the seal with your fingers so you can get into the crevices. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth.
- Scrub the hinges, using baking soda if needed for stubborn spills. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth, then dry.
- Close the fridge door and spray the exterior with cleaning spray. Clean the top first, then wipe the rest of the exterior from top to bottom. Be sure to get the underside of the handles, too.
- Remove the grill. Depending on your model it may be on the front at the bottom, or on the back. Using the vacuum’s crevice attachment, suck away all of the dust bunnies that have built up there. Don’t worry: even the best housekeepers get them, or so my mother tells me.
- Dust the wall and baseboard behind the fridge.
- Hand mop the floor beneath the fridge with a cleaning cloth and warm, soapy water. Use baking soda to scrub any stubborn food spills.
- Return the fridge to its proper location.
- Return the shelves and baskets to the fridge. Now is a good time to line your produce and meat drawers with paper towels to make future clean-up easier. (Note: fresh meats should always go on the bottom of the refrigerator!)
- Plug the fridge back in and let it chill, without being opened, for an hour before putting food back into it. Skipping this step may mean your food does not stay at a safe chilling temperature.
- Return the contents of the fridge, wiping down each bottle or jar as you work. This is a good time to make a note of any condiments you’re running low on, too.
Make a point of wiping down spills as they happen, and changing out the paper towels in your produce and meat drawers before your grocery shopping trips and you’ll help your fridge stay nice between deep cleanings!