The fridge is an integral part of any modern home, and one of the most commonly used appliances. Sadly, all too often this essential tool is neglected and left to deteriorate, becoming dirty and downright unhygienic. With proper cleaning, however, it’s easy enough to keep your fridge pristine.
Not only does this extend its life, but it also ensures the food within it is healthy and safe from harmful bacteria and germs. Never given your fridge a deep clean? Don’t despair, here’s how it’s done.
When to Clean?
A regular, weekly clean out is advised to help you stay on top of things and to ensure old food doesn’t begin to pile up and rot. There are many problems you can encounter in the kitchen, but a dirty fridge doesn’t have to be one of them. It’s best to do a deeper clean at least twice a year. Schedule cleaning sessions for when you know your fridge is likely to be emptier than normal, i.e. before a big shop. In this way, there’s less food you need to worry about keeping cool during the cleaning process.
How to Deep Clean Your Fridge
You might have moved into a new place that already had a fridge, or perhaps you’re moving and want to give your fridge a good going over. Either way, it’s a good idea to empty it, strip it down and thoroughly clean it inside and out.
Step 1: Empty Your Fridge
You’ll need to find somewhere to store the contents of your fridge while you clean it. If you have another fridge available, this is the best solution, otherwise a cool box or a bag loaded with ice packs will do the job for the few hours it takes for your fridge to be ready to go again.
Step 2: Remove and Clean the Shelves and Drawers
With the food taken care of, you can take out the shelves and salad drawers. Take care in doing so, as some models can be a little tricky. If you’re struggling, consult the manual or check online, YouTube is full of video guides.
A simple wash with warm water and washing-up liquid is generally sufficient for the shelves and drawers—just be sure to scrub at any mold that might have built up. In case of mold, soak any offending parts in boiling water to kill off the spores. Use a toothpick to get any dirt out of the shelf edgings and linings. Take care with glass parts, and allow them to reach room temperature to avoid shattering on contact with hot water.
Finally, rinse everything off and allow to air dry naturally. Be sure that air can circulate around each part to ensure everything dries properly, though you can use a clean, dry towel to finish any stubborn parts off.
Step 3: Wash Inside
While the shelves and drawers are drying, it’s time to tackle the inside. Rather than using warm water to wash the inside, it’s better to use a cold water and sanitizer solution. If you use hot water inside the fridge, it can raise the temperature and prevent you from putting your perishables back in for some time.
Use a sponge, but try to avoid using the scrubbing pad, as this can leave fine scratches in the plastic, allowing bacteria to bed in and thrive. Pay attention to the various grooves for the shelves, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush or cotton buds to scrape the worst of the dirt out.
Focus also on the drip hole, typically located at the back of the fridge. This can often become slimy and should be well washed and sanitized. Once everything inside has been washed and rinsed, dry thoroughly with paper towels. It’s important to dry it out as best you can to prevent bacteria from growing.
Step 4: Wash the Outside
It’s a good idea to keep the outside of your fridge clean as well, paying particular attention to germ hot spots such as handles and the door surrounds. Wash the surfaces as before, and check that the door seals are clean.
It’s often a good idea to vacuum the gap between the doors if you have a fridge/freezer with one on top of the other. Be gentle about it, though, as you don’t want to damage or displace the seal. Finish the door seal with a cold water and sanitizer wash, before drying everything carefully.
Step 5: Cool Down
Before reassembling your fridge and putting the contents back in, be sure to allow it to cool down to around 5 °C or 41 °F. If you don’t have a fridge thermometer, you can place a small glass of water inside and take a thermometer reading every 30 minutes or so.
For odour control, consider putting a small pot of baking soda in the rear of your fridge. This will absorb any smells from more potent dishes or ingredients!