New Year, New You
Freshen Your Fridge
That long holiday season wasn’t just hard on you – it was hard on your refrigerator, too. Now is the perfect time to give it a New Year’s makeover, and to adopt some easy-to-follow tips that will keep it clean and organized all year long.
Start with a Deep Clean
Empty all the food from the refrigerator and freezer and store it in a cooler. Remove all shelves and drawers and soak them in warm, soapy water in the sink. To deodorize, prepare a solution of two tablespoons baking soda, stirred and dissolved into one quart hot water. While everything is soaking, use a cloth to wipe down the interior with the baking soda solution, working from the top down. Wipe with a clean, dry towel. Unplug the refrigerator and vacuum around the condenser coils. Put the drawers back in place, return the food and then give the exterior a wipe-down with a cleaning solution recommended by the manufacturer.
After everything is back in place, cut the lid off a fresh box of baking soda, write the date on the front, and store it in the back. It should help reduce odors for about three months.
Add Some Organizers
If you find soda cans rolling around inside the fridge, or if you have a hard time keeping smaller items in one place, consider adding some fridge-specific organizers. Mats, Lazy Susans, plastic baskets, drink dispensers and stackable bins can help you manage the chaos and keep track of hard-to-find items. If sticky drips are a problem, consider laying down plastic placemats on all the shelves.
Clear baskets or bins with labels will allow you to keep food stored by types, like yogurts, drinks and dressings. Fruits and veggies will be easier to see – and more likely to be used while they’re in their prime – if they’re stored in clear, stackable bins after each shopping trip. Adding labels will make it even easier to find things at a glance. Consider labeling one basket “eat first” for items about to reach their sell-by date.
Now that your fridge is in tip-top shape, resolve to keep it that way. If you do a weekly grocery shop, spend a few minutes before you leave to organize the contents and do a quick wipe down (when the fridge is emptier, it will be easier to clean). Wipe down any bottles or jars that have been put back with sticky drips – that will save you more work in the long run.
This weekly cleanup will help you keep track of what’s being eaten and what’s not, and to better tame that pile-up of wayward (and expiring) items that can quickly overtake a fridge. As you’re cooking throughout the week, consider making large-batch items and storing them in your new clear stackable containers, to maximize your space.
Enjoying your neat and tidy fridge? Check your manufacturer’s recommendations, but most suggest a deep clean every three to four months.