Cleaning the fridge and freezer is something that every housekeeper must do every now and again. It is a fast, easy process which requires no investment of either time or money. You can do a thorough refrigerator cleaning session in under 30 minutes (given that your fridge is not jam-packed with rotten meat or produce).
Cleaning the fridge and freezer is important not just because of the sanitary/aesthetic issues involved, but also because defrosting the refrigerator at least every 5 months will prevent it from breaking.
Begin by turning off the fridge. Because defrosting your freezer will cause large amounts of ice to melt and fall to the floor, make sure to place a few towels at the base of the refrigerator and keep a mop and a bucket handy in case things get out of hand.
Cleaning The Fridge
Make sure you have a big surface/ table on which to store the contents of your fridge. Take everything out of the shelves, making sure not to make a mess while doing so. Sort through the food and discard anything that smells, is sticky or has expired. You can go ahead and throw those in the garbage.
Next you would want to take everything that is susceptible to quick spoilage like milk, meat, eggs, butter, etc. and place them in a cool, dark place away from heat or sunlight. Also, prevent any ‘cross-contamination’ between foods by placing everything in separate plastic containers.
Wipe the interior clean using a wet cloth. Wipe both the inside and the outside of your fridge, making sure to get corners, shelves, cabinets, etc. We won’t be using detergents at this stage for we still have to defrost the freezer.
Defrost The Freezer
Regardless of whether or not your freezer is frozen, wet or it doesn’t have a drop of water, defrosting the freezer is a must – especially if you haven’t done it in a while.
Just like we did with the fridge, take out all the food but instead of separating it into plastic containers, put the hard-frozen groceries in the sink. This way they you won’t have to clean food containers, and all the excess ice will melt inside the sink.
Place a short, narrow bucket or tray on the bottom shelf and cover the rest with towels. Leave your fridge/ freezer open and unplugged until all the ice has turned to water. Immediately towel dry any excess water to avoid overflowing. Make sure that every bit of ice has melted before proceeding to the next step.
Wipe Everything Dry
Dispose of the bucket and towels, while keeping a dry towel handy just in case you spill the bucket when taking it out. Start by wiping the freezer dry (it should be overflowing with water by now), taking care not to splash water around or let it leak through to the bottom of the fridge. Again, make sure to get all the moisture out, or else you will have to do this whole process all over again.
Next, dry the rest of the refrigerator in a similar fashion.
Clean The Freezer/ Fridge
You can dispose of any towels that are still in the vicinity to make manoeuvring and moving around a little easier.
Prepare a cleaning solution using 1 part white vinegar mixed with 5 parts water. You can substitute vinegar for lemon juice if you want a deodorizing effect as well. This solution can be directly applied using a cloth but for easier handling I recommend pouring the detergent in a spray bottle with a working nozzle.
If you don’t feel like using a home-made detergent, buying commercial cleaning products work just as well. The only setback is that you would have to wash and wipe the fridge again using only water as many store bought detergents can be toxic and will be used in an environment where you store your food.
Spray both the freezer and the fridge and wait for about 15 minutes before going over with a dry cloth. Tough stains can be handled using bleach or soda bicarbonate.
Finally, put the food back in its place and you are done!