If you’ve ever caught yourself watching #fridgegoals clips on TikTok, you might feel inspired to turn your own fridge into one of these shiny, perfectly organized devices. But before you can even think about organizing apple and juice pouches in those irresistible matching plastic bins, you need to thoroughly clean your fridge to achieve the desired effect. Here’s how to do the job.
To properly clean a fridge thoroughly, it must be completely empty, which means that everything — yes, everything, including the box of baking soda — must be taken out of the appliance. Store highly perishable foods such as milk or raw chicken in a cooler or freezer to prevent spoilage.
Once you’ve taken the food out, remove all loose shelves, drawers, and door inserts.
If you move food from the refrigerator to the cooler or freezer, check for spoilage and throw out anything that is spoiled or that you just know you won’t use.
If your refrigerator has a lot of leftover food, now is a good time to check the contents and throw away food you know you won’t consume. Throwing out leftovers can be an unpleasant task, but putting on a pair of rubber household gloves can help make scooping stale food out of storage containers a less disgusting chore.
Start by washing the shelves, drawers and/or door inserts that you have removed from the refrigerator, which you can do just like washing dishes, with a sponge and washing up liquid.
Don’t feel obligated to do this whole thing in the kitchen, though: because refrigerator shelves and vegetable bins are bulky and oddly shaped, you may find it easier to wash those parts in the bathtub, a large sink, or even outside with a garden hose. Nessa Misiuda, who documents her fridge cleaning process on Instagram and TikTok, uses the bathtub to rinse fridge shelves to avoid what she calls “making a disaster around the sink.”
If the refrigerator shelves are made of tempered glass, some care should be taken when cleaning. Priyanka Rathore, communications manager for KitchenAid, says, “It is important not to clean glass shelves or lids with hot water when they are cold. Shelves and lids can break if subjected to sudden changes in temperature or shock, such as knocks.”
When it comes to choosing a solution for cleaning the interior of a refrigerator, there are a number of options and personal choice should definitely come into play. If you feel more comfortable using a disinfectant such as a diluted bleach solution, that’s a great choice. If using bleach where you store your food makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s okay too.
However, there are a number of products to avoid when cleaning a refrigerator, Rathore says. “Do not use abrasive or harsh cleaners such as window sprays, abrasive cleaners, flammable liquids, cleaning wax, concentrated cleaners, or cleaners containing petroleum products on plastic parts, interior and door trim or gaskets.”
In my own home, I usually use a diluted dish soap solution or a gentle all-purpose cleaner such as Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. You can also choose to choose from a whole range of organic cleaning products.
When it comes to the tools used for scrubbing — sponges, rags, paper towels, etc — I highly recommend using a Dobie Pad. These non-scratch scrubber sponges are perfect for sanding surfaces without damaging plastic or glass.
After scrubbing with a sponge, use a microfiber cloth or paper towel to clean the inside of the refrigerator. Use an old toothbrush to reach tight or oddly shaped areas and a thin cloth to clean the rubber seal around the door.
To remove a stubborn, stuck-on mess, dampen a sponge or cloth with very hot water, wring it out and press it onto the spill just as you would a poultice, repeat if necessary, taking care to feel does not burn in the hot water. The heat and moisture will reassemble the dried mess, making it pliable and easy to sweep up.
Try a Magic Eraser to treat surface stains; wet the eraser sponge, squeeze it and rub it vigorously on the stain.
The outside of plastic refrigerators can be cleaned in the same way as the inside, using a microfibre cloth or sponge with a mild cleaning solution. Stainless steel refrigerators can be wiped clean with a microfiber cloth; very dirty exteriors may require a stainless steel cleaner, although this is usually not necessary. If fingerprints and smudges often appear on your stainless steel appliances, a wax-based cleaner can help prevent them
Regardless of the material, do not overlook the top of the refrigerator when cleaning the outside, as it is likely to be very, very dirty.