Thursdays are Home Organizing Days in G.O. with C.G.O. Month, and we’re digging into one of the scarier parts of the Home. The one place that we *know* items that aren’t supposed to have a life of their own sometimes manage to do so. The one place that the light stays off most of the time, because otherwise, you’d have to face the truth.
What’s in your fridge right now?
- Leftovers that will never get eaten.
- Condiments you needed just a quarter cup of and you put the rest away, as if you MIGHT have a hankering or a recipe for that rare ingredient sometime soon.
- That creamer that your in-laws had to have when visiting you over the holidays, and then left, never even having opened it.
- Half a bag of salad, looking none too appetizing.
- The last of the autumn apples, that are long past their prime.
If any of these sound like your fridge’s contents, t’s time to clean out that fridge!
THE CLEAN OUT:
1) The best way to clean your fridge is to start by turning off the cooling mechanism, and clearing it out completely. Set up a cooler or two to hold your food for about an hour (more motivation to finish the job quickly, right?). If you don’t want to turn off the refrigeration, just be sure to work quickly, so you don’t waste too much energy. For the clean out I did, we kept it on, worked quickly, and closed the door between phases of cleaning.
2) Warm sudsy water will be your best friend, and after washing, use cloths or paper towels at hand to wipe surfaces dry. Take the shelves and drawers out to clean in your sink or even your tub if you can. In this (and many) fridges, the glass directly above the crisper drawers comes out. It’s the best way to get at cleaning the track that the shelf sits in, which I always find to be a bit grimy!
3) Start cleaning at the top; crumbs and spills will keep working to the bottom, and you won’t have to re-clean a shelf you’ve already cleaned.
4) You’ll be surprised (and possibly disgusted) at what has taken over the surfaces of your fridge. Some things leak and just leave a gelatinous ring around them… seeming nothing like the original product itself. Soak a rag or paper towel in hot water and rest it on the goop to loosen it up, then use a plastic scraper or spatula (or even a credit card) to help work off the goop.
5) Wipe down the walls (I mean, seriously, how do these get stains on them?) Also, behind the crisper drawers, things seem to fall and die. Be sure to reach back there and give that area a good wipe down, as well.
6) The gasket (the rubber frame that surrounds the door to make a tight seal) also needs to be cleaned. Use a mixture of water and white vinegar, or antibacterial spray and a rag to manipulate into the creases and wipe out all the crumbs that land in there, too. Wipe all the way around the door.
7) Don’t forget to vacuum the coils and the bottom of the fridge for better efficiency, and to pull out the tray on the bottom of the fridge. It’s gross, and needs to be cleaned.
8) When you’re done cleaning, leave it open a bit longer to dry out, and be sure to remember to set the thermostat back to cool if you turned it off. And add a fresh box of baking soda to help absorb odors.
9) Consider using a product like Fridgecoasters, which I use in my fridge (not being paid by them to write this, by the way). You know those cardboard-y coasters you get at a bar? Imagine ones designed for the shelves and bins in your fridge. They help absorb spills, and keep the clean up process for your fridge much easier. I love using them, and change them a couple of times a year (especially the crisper bin ones… they really get a work out with all the fresh produce we use), and I really like that they come in a number of attractive patterns.
THE TOSS OUT:
1) Check expirations before you put anything in the cooler for safe keeping while you’re cleaning… don’t take up space for things that should be tossed immediately.
2) Not only are expiration dates important, but sometimes products will have a “Use within xx time after opening.”
3) The door is where small volume products go to die. 2 tablespoons left of jelly, one squeeze of ketchup. Things that look a bit browner than ideal. Seriously…say good bye to these, and put replacements on your shopping list. Why are you spending good real estate on products you won’t love using, or won’t have enough to use when you need it.
4) Not sure if you should still keep something? Why not try looking it up on stilltasty.com, the “ultimate shelf life guide”?
5) And, let’s face it: some plastic storage containers just aren’t worth saving if it means opening them up and dealing with a mold-fest. Just toss it.
So, get in there, give it a good look, drag that garbage can on over,
and get to work!