Is it time to clean your fridge?

How often do you clean inside your fridge? Every week? Every year? Health experts are divided on how frequently a fridge should be cleaned, but the general consensus seems to be that if it’s longer than six months, then you’ve left it too long.

Cleaning your fridge regularly is key to keeping food fresh and healthy. Bacteria and parasites from old food can remain inside your fridge and spoil other items. It’s important to store foods according to how cold they need to be kept, so it’s worth while noting that some parts of the fridge may be colder than others.

We’ve also got some pretty good tips on how to store different foods to keep them fresh and safe to eat.

While wiping down the surfaces inside your fridge every week is recommended, you should aim to give your fridge a thorough clean every six months.

It pays to plan  

It’s a good idea to run down your food supplies before cleaning your fridge. You might wish to do it just before going away. Regardless, it makes it easier if you have fewer food items in your fridge. This is also a good opportunity to check use-by dates on all food.

You’ll have to take whatever’s left out and it will get warm. Try to consume any meat or fish, and put spoilage-prone foods in a sealed bag in a cool, dry place.

Or you could empty the contents into an ice-cooled esky. Once you’ve done this, switch off your fridge and unplug it from the socket.

It’s best to remove and wash all shelving piece by piece, scrubbing with warm, soapy water. You can do this in your sink or in a tub outside. Dry each piece well to ensure that no residual moisture, which can help bacteria to breed, remains.

Cleaning the fridge interior

You don’t have to use strong chemicals to clean the space around things you’re going to eat. Sterilising fluid – often sold for cleaning babies’ bottles – when combined with cold water makes for a good cleaning solution that safely kills bacteria.

Don’t use very hot water for the interior. This will raise your fridge’s temperature meaning it will take longer to cool your food once the cleaning is done and the door is closed.

A food-friendly alternative is distilled white vinegar. It’s affordable and effective and can be bought in large bottles from your supermarket. Mix vinegar 50–50 with water and put into a spray bottle. Or use a cloth. Either way, it’s a safe and simple cleaner. Add a bit of bicarb to the mix for stubborn stains.

If you don’t have either of these to hand and can’t be bothered going to the shops, then a solution of two cups of water and two tablespoons of bicarbonate soda will remove most built-up grime. Pay special attention to door seals and dry all surfaces well. A wipe with water (in which a few drops of vanilla have been added) will sweeten the task.

Read: Home cleaning tips

Don’t forget to check for grime in the folds of the door seal or the shelf channels. Use a cotton bud or the corner of a cloth to get into those hard-to-reach channels and grooves.

Once you’re done, make sure you dry your fridge with a paper towel or cloth, and let it cool for a while before returning your foods to their rightful place.

Keeping your fridge ‘healthy’ means your food will keep for longer and taste fresher. What are your fridge-cleaning tips? Why not share them with our members in the comments section below?

Amelia Theodorakis
Amelia Theodorakis
A writer and communications specialist with eight years’ in startups, SMEs, not-for-profits and corporates. Interests and expertise in gender studies, history, finance, banking, human interest, literature and poetry.
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