November 15th: National Clean Your Fridge Day


You knew it would come to this. We’ve been talking about downsizing, organizing and cleaning. It’s time to focus on your refrigerator. Is your fridge clean and organized or does is it a science experiment gone bad? Is there a box in the back middle shelf of a mystery food and you’re not sure if it’s a meat or vegetable or even food product?

Before the holiday rush hits, take an hour or so to prepare your refrigerator for the upcoming onslaught of foods.

Refrigerators for home use were invented in 1913. Frigidaire introduced the first self-contained unit. Until then, blocks of ice were collected and stored in icehouses where sheets of ice were packed in salt, wrapped in strips of flannel and stored underground to keep them frozen until summer.

Freezers came along shortly thereafter, making the refrigerator/freezer one of the most used appliance in the home.

Who better than Martha Stewart to ask about the proper cleaning of this important food storage appliance? The fridge is subject to spills, varied odors and overcrowding.

Make it a point to wipe up spills immediately before they have a chance to dry. Wipe off the bottom of jars, condiments and storage containers so they don’t add to the stickiness of surfaces.

Check for spoilage. Throw out anything immediately that’s past its prime. Are there leaks or slow drips from any containers? Place a plate under defrosting meat or cartons of berries.

Weekly wipe the doors, including the edges and top of the refrigerator with a cloth dampened with mild dishwashing liquid and water. Stainless steel appliances are still very popular. Use commercial stainless-steel spray and wipe in the direction of the grain. Clean the door seals, which can collect crumbs, with hot water and mild dishwashing liquid. Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth. Be sure the seals are tight.

To clean shelves, take out everything and wipe down with a damp cloth. Dry with a clean lint free towel; a tea towel is a great source. Replace immediately if food is in good condition. Baking soda and hot water is a good cleaner to use. For stubborn dried stains, soak a rag with baking soda and water and place on the stain.

After cleaning thoroughly, keep your leftovers in airtight containers. You don’t want your fresh strawberries to smell like your leftover salmon. Fresh spinach for a salad doesn’t need to smell like onions.

To help eliminate odors, spread fresh coffee grounds on a tray and place inside until the smell goes away. You can also use baking soda or activated charcoal. Cat litter even helps.

A clean refrigerator is a happy, functional one. After this round of cleaning, take a few minutes weekly to clean this faithful appliance and you’ll be a happy chef.

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