Have you put away all the holiday decorations yet? While the tree and wreaths may be down, I’m still recovering from hosting holiday gatherings. The fridge is often neglected during regular kitchen cleanings, but it’s time to tackle that refrigerator deep cleaning. In January there isn’t quite as much food stashed away and it’s a perfect time to make the refrigerator look and smell good again.
Deep clean the refrigerator
The first thing I do when cleaning the fridge is to remove shelves one at a time and wash them. By doing them one at a time I can move food to other shelves. Try to make sure that the shelf is at room temperature before washing. This helps prevent glass shelves from breaking. In the process I go through all the food, drinks, condiments and check expiration dates. I throw out whatever is past its prime.
Then you should wipe down the doors of your refrigerator using a cloth or sponge with some dishwashing liquid and water. Use this same solution on the top of your refrigerator as well. It is amazing how much dust and dirt can collect up there.
A couple times a year it is really a great idea to wash the walls in the interior of your refrigerator. It is best to do this with a mix of two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of hot water. This will clean the fridge and eliminate any residual odors at the same time.
Don’t forget the Arm & Hammer!
To help with odors I always have a small box of Arm & Hammer baking soda inside the fridge door. I find that it really cuts down on the smells that can accumulate inside. Every 90 days that box should be replaced. It is a small expense (usually about $1.50 at my grocery store,) but worth every penny.
Tip: Make sure your refrigerator baking soda is separate from your baking baking soda. If you use this box of Arm & Hammer when it’s time to bake, your treats will end up tasting like how the inside of your fridge smells.
Defrost the freezer
If you have a lot of ice build up in your freezer, or if you just haven’t defrosted in a long time (or ever), it’s time to defrost your freezer. The first thing you should do is to empty out your fridge and freezer. If you live in a cold state like I do then January is the perfect time to defrost your freezer. You can put your food outside in the snow. We have a porch near our kitchen that works great for times like this. If not, then just put it all in a bag or cooler so that it can keep cold together. Then turn your freezer off.
Find a wooden or rubber spatula (something that is NOT sharp) to gently work on the sides and top of the freezer. If there is nothing there, you don’t need to do this step. If there is ice build up and it won’t budge, don’t try to force it. It is very important that you don’t use anything metal or sharp in this part of the process. If you scratch or put a hole (even one) in the walls of your freezer it could release Freon gas. Not good for the environment, and you will have to get a new refrigerator.
At this point remove all the ice and water from the freezer. Then fill a baking tray halfway with warm warm and put it on the floor of the freezer. Then put a saucepan of boiling water on each of the shelves. Close the door until it is only open a crack and leave it this way for five minutes. When you return everything should be partially melted and you should be able to pry away any ice that is left. Then take a cloth and wipe down the inside of the freezer. After that your freezer is done. Turn it back on and after a few minutes return the food back to the freezer. The whole process should take less than 30 minutes.
Cleaning underneath and behind your refrigerator
To clean under your refrigerator you can use a vacuum or a coil brush. Sometimes you may need to pull your refrigerator out to really get a good clean by vacuuming. But, if this is not possible, then just get what you can with the vacuum and coil brush. Cleaning underneath and behind will keep your fridge running efficiently.
Hopefully these tips will help you speed up the process as you are post-holiday cleaning. Best of luck, and I hope your refrigerator looks great!