It’s officially spring—so it’s time for some deep, thorough spring cleaning. (Yes, we can hear the chorus of groans from here.) One of the really challenging jobs? Getting stickiness, stains, and odours out of your fridge without exhausting your supply of elbow grease.
Before you decide that actually, winter wasn’t so bad after all, check out our fridge-cleaning hacks to make a grubby job that much easier.
Wipe up spills immediately
OK, so this isn’t going to help with the big, bad clean-out—but wiping up spills as soon as they happen means a lot less sticky mess when you do a top-to-bottom clean. Most spills can be handled with warm water and a little soap or vinegar, meaning you avoid using harsh chemicals around your food. Once they’ve sat, though, you’re in for some heavy-duty scrubbing. It should go without saying, but food and bleach don’t go well together, so don’t use bleach in the fridge.
Avoid cleaning spills altogether with press-and-seal plastic
If you know you’re not the type to regularly investigate your fridge for spills (no judgement), line your shelves with press-and-seal plastic wrap or cling film. That way, if spills happen, you can just strip away the plastic and stains.
Don’t use detergent on your fridge shelves—use baking soda instead
Soap or detergent can leave behind smells that food will absorb. Hot water and baking soda will clean without making your milk smell lemon fresh. Baking soda is also great as a gentle scrubber for tough, dried on stains: simply shake some on, dampen it with a little water, and let it sit for 10 minutes. The stain should be easier to scrub off after that.
Don’t use hot water on cold glass shelves
CrrrrrrACK—that’s what can happen to your shelves if you pull them out of the fridge and plunge them into hot, soapy water. Let the shelves come up to room temperature before washing them, then rinse them well afterwards.
Clean door seals with a butter knife
If your fridge door isn’t sealing properly, you’re wasting energy trying to keep your food cold. Using warm, soapy water, thoroughly wash door seals, which can collect crumbs and other debris. Then, use a blunt knife wrapped in a rag to really get into the crevices—just don’t push too hard, or you might damage the plastic. Once the gaskets are clean, wipe them with mineral or lemon oil to keep them supple.
Wipe stainless steel in the direction of the grain
For a really shiny door, free of annoying fingerprints, make sure you clean in the direction of the grain with a product specifically made for stainless steel.
Make fridge clean-up a game
Enlist your kids’ help with cleaning out the fridge: for every expired product or container of something moldy, give them a point. The one with the most points (or the person who had to dump the fuzziest container) at the end of the clean-up gets a popsicle.
Use a lazy Susan to make sure things don’t languish at the back
That jar of capers will never get used if it migrates to the back of the fridge and stays there. Use a lazy Susan for condiments and small jars, and never end up with a fridge full of mouldy, half-used condiments again.
Deodorize with activated carbon
Baking soda works too, but activated carbon or charcoal—the kind they sell for aquariums—works better. Put some in a clean sock for a spill-proof deodorizer.
Clean your fridge right before a big grocery shop
There are a couple of reasons to wait until your fridge has reached Mother Hubbard status to clean: one, and most obviously, there’s less to haul out. Two, an emptier fridge will give you a good idea of what you’ve already got (a surprise bottle of capers hiding in the back!) before you get to the store.
Vacuum your condenser coils
Unplug the fridge, then use a coil brush on condenser coils first, and bring in the vacuum to clean further. Keeping your coils dirt free can help your fridge run better.