A few things can accumulate dirt as unobtrusively as a refrigerator. The white interiors will fool you to think that everything is hunky dory. You will not see the small spills at the back, the cracked and leaking egg, and the mark on the shelves from the dal and curry containers. This is why knowing how to maintain and clean your fridge refrigerator in the right way is important.
The first inkling you will have that your refrigerator is perhaps not as clean as you think it is will be the stains from the bottles at the bottom of the bottle trays. Look a bit deeper and you will see the greyish marks from the dirt near the vents, the small spills from the curries, assorted crumbs and pieces from breads, fruits and vegetables, and what not.
Now before you pull your hair out, take a deep breath and relax.
Cleaning a refrigerator is easy – and fun! In fact, it is so easy that you can make it a family activity to teach your kids the importance of cleaning and show them how to keep things the smart way in a fridge. Also, if you are in a stressful job, then you should allot one hour every month to clean your fridge and take away the stress.
All right, enough talk about how easy it is and how much of a stress-buster. Let’s get down to it.
Top 6 Refrigerator Cleaning Tips
1. Switch off the fridge and take out the things inside
The first thing you need to do is switch off the fridge and take out the stuff inside. If you have things in the freezer like meat or ice cream put them inside an icebox or a casserole. If you are using a casserole, pack the sides with ice and seal the top with the lid. This will ensure they stay cold for the hour or so you will need to clean the fridge.
If you are keeping the stuff on top of a wooden table, remember to put some plastic tablemats below. The items are still cold and they will release water once they are outside at room temperature. The tablemats will prevent them from making the wood wet and creating a mess.
2. Clean the trays and baskets first
Take out the trays and baskets and soak them in hot water. Cleaning them in normal water will not be as effective. A good way to get them cleaned is to soak them for 5-10 minutes in hot water (not boiling hot in case you are wondering) and give them a good cleaning. Use a new sponge or scrub pad (something like Scotch-Brite) to clean off everything well. Now leave them to dry.
3. Get the cleaning supplies
Make a cleaning lotion of vinegar and warm water. Nothing cleans better than this mix if you are looking for a cleaning fluid that is harmless and does the job too. Harsh cleaners are best avoided. If you have some tough stains, you can use baking soda or a dish cleaning fluid or a specific cleaning fluid like Colin or any other similar brand. Also, if you see tough stains, get a toothbrush since you will need it to remove any sticky or slimy stuff.
4. Get the right cloth
Always use cotton cloths or microfiber cloths. If you are using cotton cloths, keep 4-5 big handkerchief size pieces before you start. If you are using microfiber cloths, then buy some to spare and you can use them to clean other things around the house besides the fridge. Remember to not use paper towels. They break up when they get wet and you will have another job in your hands cleaning up the wet paper afterwards.
5. Clean, clean and clean
Start with the area near the vents, as you may miss them later when you get a bit tired. Clean the bottle racks and the sides, the egg and butter trays and the bottom where the crisper box rests. For the areas with stains, use baking soda or a cleaning fluid.
It is better to have two clothes to start with. Use one soaked in vinegar and hot water to remove the dirt and grime and the other to wipe dry the area. Once the first one gets dirty, soak the drying cloth in the vinegar mixture and take a fresh one to dry the cleaned area. It will take you anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to clean the fridge depending on how dirty it is.
Clean the outside with a cotton cloth. You can moisten one if the fridge exterior is really dirty and stained but remember to immediately follow it up with a dry wipe. The vinegar lotion should work here too but if you feeling a bit iffy, stick to a standard cleaning fluid.
Step no. 6: Put back the trays and baskets but…
When you are done, leave the fridge door open for some time to dry the inside. During this time, wipe dry the racks and the trays if they are not dry yet. Give special attention to the crisper tray and the ice trays as they have a tendency to stay wet in certain nooks and corners. Also, ensure that the temperature setting is always below 5 degrees Celsius. The freezer must be below zero degrees.
Maintenance Hacks For Your Fridge
Once the trays and baskets are in place, here is what you need to do:
- Put plastic mats or kitchen towels on top of the trays and underneath the crisper box. You can also use plastic wraps and even cling films. Remember to put kitchen towels at the bottom of the crisper. This will ensure that any juice from the vegetables or fruits will not make the bottom very dirty. Replace this paper every week for best results.
- Wipe off the water droplets from the containers before you put them back. This prevents any mess and the bottles will not slip from your kid’s hands.
- Move all leftovers to glass containers. This will ensure you see them and eat them instead of forgetting them inside for weeks. You can also use stickers or post-its to mark the things separately.
- If you are a stickler for keeping similar things together, then buy some trays or bins where you can put such things together. This is especially true for the freezer as ice on the meat and fish packets make it difficult to pull them out. Keeping them in separate boxes will make it easier to take them out, especially if you have a non frost-free refrigerator.
- Keep a container of activated carbon at the back of the bottom shelf. This will deodorize the fridge better. If you do not have activated carbon at home, then keep a bowl of baking soda or cut a lemon in half and keep it inside for 2-3 days before replacing it with another one. If you like the smell of coffee, you can also keep a few coffee beans in a small bowl to keep the fridge smelling good.
And there you have it! Keeping the above cleaning tips and maintenance hacks in mind will ensure you get a clean refrigerator that will rival any of the ones you see in the ads.
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