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This is the best way to clean your fridge from top to bottom

Cleaning the refrigerator; it’s something we all put off. We all have the mindset; if there is still room for more food, it doesn’t need to be cleaned. But seriously, you eat that food—so clean the refrigerator. If you get organized first and make sure you have all the necessary items you need to start cleaning, keep cleaning, and finish cleaning all in a short amount of time, it won’t be so bad.

inside of refrigeratorYour cleaner options

Food absorbs odors. You don’t want to use bleach or glass cleaner because everything you eat in the refrigerator will taste like bleach or glass cleaner. Here are some options to use for cleaning. You can buy commercial cleaners for cleaning the refrigerator, they will likely be vinegar or baking soda based, or you can make your own.

It’s easy, get a spray bottle and mentally divide the bottle into seven parts. Fill one part with white vinegar and fill the rest with water. Or, get a container you can fill with water and add baking soda to it. A dishpan or a plastic bin (the kind you store clothes in) works—any container around 1 ft. x 6 in. x 4 in. works. Then place about a cup of baking soda and water, and mix.

It would be best to have a sponge and/or a scrubber with a sponge on one side and scrubbing material on the other. It would also help to have towels or microfiber cloths for drying glass jars and shelves.

And, don’t forget a garbage bag.

Clear off an area for food items

You will be taking food, jars, bottles, etc., out of the refrigerator, so clear off an area on the counter or clear out the sink. You will fill one side of the sink with warm, sudsy water, and the other side you can use to drain and dry.

If you think it’s going to be a lengthy job (fuzzy mold and mystery gunk stuck to the walls of the refrigerator), get a cooler or two to put the food in while you clean.

neatly organized refrigeratorStart with the top shelf

Take the food out. If you don’t know what it is or was, throw it out. Place the food you are saving on the counter and, if you can, remove the shelf. Wash the shelf in the sink and place it to the side to dry. Using the baking soda or vinegar preparation, wash the refrigerator’s sides where the shelf was, and don’t forget to wash the shelf clips, too.

If the shelf doesn’t come out, wash it with one of your cleaning preparations. If it is a wire shelf, make sure you wash the underside, too, because that’s where food debris is hiding.

If you are washing shelves in the sink, shut the refrigerator door to keep the temperature where it’s supposed to be.

Replace the clean shelf, repeat.

The produce/meat bins

Empty both bins and remove them from the fridge. Wash them in the sink and set them aside to dry. Wipe off the bottom of the refrigerator clean. Discard any produce that has morphed into an inedible product.

Dry the bins before you put them back because you don’t want excess moisture hanging around in there, making your fruits and vegetables wet.

The door and door shelves

Here’s where old condiments go to die. If you haven’t used that salad dressing or horseradish sauce in more than a couple of months. Say good-bye and toss it.

Make that hard decision to throw out the jar of olives with only two olives in it.

Wipe off the top and the bottom of the condiment bottles and jars before you put them back on the clean shelves.

If the ketchup or mustard has those little dribbles outside the jar or bottle top (you know the ones we are talking about), now is the time to wipe them off.

woman wiping refrigeratorThe outside

Yes, now that the inside is bright and clean and has no food that has seen better days in it, clean the outside. Use a commercial cleaner for stainless steel if it’s a stainless steel finish and wipe with the grain. Usually, the grain runs up and down, so wipe in broad up and down strokes. Wipe off the little tray by the water and ice cube dispenser. Wipe the handle.

There, you are done, clean from top to bottom inside and outside. Perhaps you should celebrate with that last bit of wine in the fridge or those two little olives we mentioned above that are still good but taking up all that room.

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Kathleen Ostrander
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kathleen has worked for United Press International and she's written about everything from style to pets for newspapers…
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