Fridges and freezers are often thought of as the “backbone” of the kitchen. Careful maintenance and cleaning procedures must be followed at all times to make sure that your fridge isn’t doing you more harm than good.
Why is cleaning your refrigerator important?
Proper fridge cleaning and maintenance are vitally important, though they are often overlooked and viewed as “too hard.” However, what you don’t see in your fridge could actually be contaminating your food and making you sick. Did you know that dirty fridges can act as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, and E. coli?
A study done on the average frost-free home fridge found that salad drawers alone contained an average of 7,850 bacteria units per square centimeter. To put this into perspective, the recommended amount of bacteria units per square centimeter for safe food preparation is between 0 and 10. Proper cleaning should be performed regularly to avoid bacterial growth of this size.
How to Properly Clean Your Fridge
Items needed to clean your refrigerator:
- Sealed Bags
- Hot, Soapy Water
- Clean Towels
- Optional: Water + Bleach
STEP 1 – Discard expired food
- Going through the items in your fridge and throwing out any out-of-date items is a must.
- Expired food can contaminate other foods in the fridge and could be harmful if eaten.
STEP 2 – Empty your Refrigerator
- Empty the rest of the items in your refrigerator and put them on a counter or table while you clean.
- Take out shelving, drawers, and any other removable parts.
- Don’t leave unrefrigerated food out for more than two hours.
STEP 3 – Wash Removable Parts
- Wash shelving, drawers, and any other removable parts by hand with hot, soapy water.
- Dry with a clean towel.
- Don’t run cold glass shelves or drawers under hot water – the glass could crack. Let them come to room temperature first.
STEP 4 – Clean and Sanitize Inside the Refrigerator
- Wipe the inside of the empty refrigerator with hot, soapy water, then wipe with clean water to rinse off the soap.
- Dry with a clean towel.
- Don’t forget to wipe inside the doors and any drawers that cannot be removed.
Use a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid bleach in 1 gallon of water to sanitize your refrigerator. Do this after cleaning it with hot, soapy water.
STEP 5 – Return Shelves, Drawers, and Food
- Put the shelves, drawers, and other removable parts back in the refrigerator, along with the other items you took out.
- Wipe food and drink containers with hot, soapy water before returning to the clean refrigerator.
And don’t forget!
- Wash your hands with water and soap once you’ve finished cleaning.
- Use hot, soapy water to wipe kitchen counters that held food, drinks, refrigerator parts, and any cleaning materials.
- Wash any towels you used to dry the refrigerator before using them again.