Cleaning and Maintaining Refrigerator

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Refrigerator

Cleaning and Maintaining RefrigeratorFood that’s rotten or moldy is toxic to the human body, and keeping these kinds of produce and meat in your fridge can lead to more food becoming dangerous. Even after removing this spoiled food, the bacteria can still live in your fridge, and that’s why it’s important to keep your fridge clean—even before you smell something funky.

Each year, about 40% of the food in America gets wasted. Some of this has to do with product not being purchased, product spoiled during shipping, or food that’s left on the plates of countless restaurants. But some of that wasted food comes from our kitchens: the strawberries we didn’t eat, the meat that was freezer-burned, the leftovers we didn’t want to eat.

We’re going to talk about cleaning your fridge, but we’ll also talk about maintaining a clean fridge—which will lead to less wasted product, a cleaner fridge, and a healthier kitchen.

Healthy Fridge, Healthy Food

Refrigerator DoorIf you don’t regularly clean your fridge and freezer, the first time doing so will be a bit tedious. You’ll want to:

  • Remove all the food in your fridge and freezer—everything.
  • If possible, get these into a cooler or alternative fridge during cleaning.
  • Remove any shelving or food bins.
  • Begin with lukewarm water and soap and wash away any stains or spilled food.
  • Use a bacterial cleaner afterwards to ensure that all bacteria are killed.
  • Inspect food for mold, funky smells, and expiration dates.

These are the basics, and the process will take some time, but it’s the first step necessary to maintaining a clean fridge. In the past, maybe you removed only noticeably foul food—but now you want to start from square one with everything clean and tidy.

Temperature Settings

temperature settingsMost sources will recommend that you keep your refrigerator at 40° Fahrenheit or slightly below, but to get food items like milk and meat to last longer, 35° F will do the trick. So while your fridge is empty, be sure to change the temperature and then wait a half hour or so until the fridge has been able to restore its coolness. Because you’ve been cleaning it, much of its coolness has escaped.

For freezers, the ideal temperature is 0° F. However, the point of freezing food is that it traps enzymes and stops bacteria from growing. To successfully trap those enzymes, you’ll want to initially freeze your food at -10° F, and then gradually bring the temperature back up to 0°.

Non-Food Cleaning

For your refrigerator to operate at peak performance, you’ll need to do a few other things to complete the cleaning process. Water filters and coils need to be cleaned—and it never hurts to clean underneath the fridge to get rid of any unseen spills or mold you didn’t know were there. This is a prime time to check for small leaks. So change your water filter, vacuum the coils, and get some help in scooting the fridge to the side so you can clean there.


Okay, so you’ve got a clean fridge. But, as many of you know, you run the risk of negligence, and, before long, your fridge will be as dirty and unhealthy as it was before without diligence. The best way I’ve found is to think outside the freezer-box. Most of the food that I was wasting was leftovers. I don’t like to eat the same thing several days in a row and neither does my son, so we left excess food in the fridge that eventually spoiled.

With a weekly meal-planner, I managed to reduce the amount of spoiled leftovers and also saved on my grocery shopping. Each day I knew exactly what to make and, more importantly, how much. So if you really want to keep your fridge in its prime condition, plan your meals.


Featured Image Photo Credit to  Flickr/Kārlis Dambrāns Licensed under CC 2.0 with text overlay added

Temperature control image credit to Flickr/JD Hancock Licensed under CC 2.0

Inside of fridge image credit to Flickr/Goedekers’s Licensed under CC 2.0


3 thoughts on “Cleaning and Maintaining Your Refrigerator”

  1. So useful information! I confess that my fridge is not organized very well but I am trying… I hope that I will find time to reorganize it a little bit so my food will be fresh for a long time!

  2. It is very important to clean the fridge regularly. After all we put there the food we eat and it is important to clean that space often. Thanks for the useful article!

  3. An over-packed fridge is overwhelming, and it can cause your food to spoil faster too. Cool air needs to circulate to keep food cool and prevent it from spoiling prematurely. If you find yourself with a fridge that’s constantly full, try making two smaller grocery runs during the week instead of one huge one. This will also help you avoid buying too much food that goes bad before you are able to eat it.

    Best regards!
    Shadwell Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

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