A Fresh and Clean Refrigerator

January 29, 2024 | Christine Hradek

clean fridge

We have reached the last task of our January kitchen refresh! Cleaning out the fridge likely doesn’t fall high on anyone’s priority list; however, it always feels good to get it done.

Here are several things to keep in mind when cleaning out the fridge:

  1. Leftovers: start by discarding any spoiled food and leftovers that have been in your fridge for more than four days. Leftovers that have been in your fridge for less than four days can be frozen or eaten by the fourth day.
  2. Food product dates: date markings like Best By and Use By dates are placed on products by food manufacturers. Except for infant formula, these dates are an indication of food quality, not food safety. Use the Food Keeper app to determine if your food items are safe or if they need to be thrown out.
  3. Two-hour rule: food should not be unrefrigerated for more than two hours. If you think you’ll need more than two hours to clean your fridge, make sure to store food items in a cooler with ice packs.

Once the contents of your refrigerator have been emptied out, follow these steps to get your refrigerator odor free:

  1. If you have glass shelves, allow them to warm to room temperature before washing. The hot water could cause cold shelves to crack.
  2. Wash all the shelves and drawers in hot water and dish soap. Then rinse using a sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
  3. Wash the interior of the refrigerator with a paste made from equal parts hot water and baking soda. Make sure that you also clean the door and rubber gasket. Rinse with the sanitizing solution.
  4. Leave the door open for about 15 minutes to allow for air to circulate. It is good to keep children out of the kitchen during this drying time to prevent accidents.

Once you have cleaned your fridge, the shelves and drawers can be returned, along with food items. We recommend adding an open box of baking soda to the inside of your fridge to help absorb odors.

If you ever have questions about cleaning your fridge, or any home and family question, give us a call at AnswerLine (1-800-262-3804).


Our guest blogger this week is Rachel Sweeney from ISU’s AnswerLine.

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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