Nov 22, 2016
I remember when cleaning the refrigerator was a high-priority weekly chore which involved removing all the contents, cleaning shelves, door bins and even the freezer compartment. This also included discarding anything that was saved on the last round. The result was a healthier, organized, odor-free refrigerated pantry - a refrigerator you'd be proud to show off.
Then came busy schedules and long working days with the cleaning becoming an occasional sorting/discarding (to make space), quick wiping (to save face) and a promise of a full cleaning later. Most often, the full cleaning includes only part of the refrigerator - the area that screams the loudest. But this is one chore that we need to work back into a regular, or somewhat consistent routine, even if we have to clean it in sections.
Besides managing the storage space, there are good reasons to clean the refrigerator and your family's health depends on it. Priority one of course, is to avoid accidental food poisoning by discarding spoiled foods.
Removing smelly items reduces odors and cleaning the spills improves the look, but what isn't readily visible is the bacteria that accumulates in this food storage area between thorough cleanings. Since we don't always wash our hands before retrieving or storing food items or condiments, a good cleaning is needed to remove the germs that take residence in the refrigerator.
Just how often should a refrigerator be cleaned? Ideally, a weekly cleaning would keep it clean, fresh smelling, food-safe and organized. However, this is not always practical and needs do vary depending on use and how you maintain your food storage on an on-going basis. Wiping condiments and dressing bottles before returning them to the refrigerator, is a good practice to reduce germs and makes a full cleaning later, much quicker. If your refrigerator is subject to lots of spills or collects food residue easily, you may need to clean it more often.
If you're worried when a helpful guest opens the refrigerator door, or you have to add safe-to-eat tags on certain food items when the kids are coming, your cleaning is way overdue. Make your refrigerator cleaning a planned, deliberate act. Don't wait until it requires a mask and takes a whole day to complete.
What often signals a refrigerator cleaning, is lack of storage space. But would increasing refrigeration capacity alter your maintenance schedule? In other words, does increased storage space just allow more left-overs to accumulate, thus delaying the cleaning altogether? On the other hand, a smaller refrigerator must be re-organized often to maintain adequate storage space.
It's great to have ample refrigeration capacity, but if you're thinking of getting a larger refrigerator, take a moment to consider your motives. You may find that routine cleaning and re-organization just might create that needed refrigeration space.