Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Big Chill: How To Clean Your Fridge

About most things I write on this blog, you may have noticed, I am consciously quite fastidious and organized. Especially about things in my kitchen. But it might surprise you (unless you actually know me) that it's all a facade. That's right, I'm outing myself- even though I act all tidy and organized, I'm a closet slob. Literally. (My closets are sometimes really slobby). For years, when I lived at home with my too-forgiving parents, or in cinder-block dorm rooms and tiny, cramped, rental apartments with roommates, I just didn't care enough to keep things organized and tidy- my clothes and papers were strewn about my room and you could usually find me by following the trail of discarded shoes on the floor (my dad once left me a note that said, "Dear Lil, Please close us! Love, Your Drawers).
But love does funny things to a girl. Once JM and I bought our place, and started building our life together, suddenly I felt driven to make a change and to try very hard to make our home as nice as it can possibly be.  Every day is still an internal battle between the angel and devil on my shoulders to overcome my own innate disorganization- every fiber of my being wants to dump that jacket on the ground rather than carefully hanging it in the closet - but most of the time, the angel makes me reach for the hanger anyway, because my desire to keep my home and my things looking as good as possible, and to provide a lovely place for our little family to live, wins out. (But sometimes I still drop it on the floor. Nobody's perfect).
And nowhere is my own lingering internal messypants more evident than in my fridge. I finally have a new, amply-sized, cold-all-over, stainless-steel, big-kid fridge, but I'm still working out how everything should fit in it. Let's just call it a work in progress. With the emphasis on the progress.

How To Clean Your Fridge

1. Take all the food out, throwing out anything that is moldy, spoiled, expired, or old. Also throw out that mustard bottle with 1/8-inch layer of yellow at the bottom- seriously, it's gone. Make a list of things to replace.
2. Take out all the removable parts of the fridge, like the shelves and the drawers. If your fridge has a drip-tray underneath, pull that out, too. Use a sponge, and warm water mixed with a mild non-toxic dishwashing soap to scrub them clean. (Just be careful not to take a cold glass shelf and expose it to very hot water- the temperature change might cause it to crack.) Also, don't use any ammonia or bleach-based cleaning products in your fridge- you don't want that stuff in with the food you eat, trust me. When everything's all clean, wipe dry with a clean towel.
 3. Wash out the inside of the fridge and the door with the same very mild soapy water solution, and wipe dry. If there is a residual foody smelliness, wipe the whole thing down with a solution of baking soda and warm water.
4. Put all the shelves and drawers back in. Make sure you place them so that one shelf is tall enough for your milk carton and other tall items. Every fridge is different, but here are a few rules of thumb for grocery placement.
     a) Veggies go in the crisper drawer. Usually the temperature is calibrated to be ideal for veggies.  I put mine in Ziplock bags to keep them fresher, but still make it easy to see what's in there.
     b) Don't put meat, milk, or eggs in the door- it is almost always significantly warmer than the rest of the fridge, so save that space for condiments, wine and juices.
     c) Keep fresh meat wrapped in a plastic bag on a shelf where it will be kept cold, and cannot drip on anything below it.
     d)Keep like with like- all cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products should be kept together. All fruits should be together. And lining up all the beer and canned sodas in tidy rows will give you that super-organized tv commercial look.
5. As you put things back in the fridge, make sure you wipe off each item with a damp rag, to make sure there is nothing sticky or gross is going back into your gorgeous, sparkly-clean fridge.  Oh, and put a box of baking soda in there to keep it smelling just as clean.
6. Think you're done? Sorry.  Repeat with the freezer.

 Pretty cool.


Photo credit: avc-recycle.blogspot.com/

1 comment:

La Rêveuse said...

Tip: put a few charcoal briquettes in a coffee mug in the back of the fridge to control odors. Works about 1000% better than baking soda, and doesn't need to be changed every six months. (I do mine yearly, if that.) Seriously, I can keep camembert in my fridge. It works. (My husband can give you all the scientific reasons about surface area and activated carbon, but I just care that it works.) I also keep one in my big freezer and it does the same. Also helps with excess moisture.

Just don't use the ones that are pre-soaked with lighter fluid. (Ick.)