Cleaning out your fridge and freezer should be done at least twice a year. Most condiments only last 3-4 months after opening and foods in the freezer generally last 3-6 months and in the deep freeze 6-12 months. When preparing for a complete fridge and freezer cleaning, be sure to get set up first. The less time your food stays out of the fridge or freezer the better. If you plan to de-ice the freezer, unplug it and if you plan to clean the coils of the fridge and dust behind, unplug it too.
Getting set up:
- Fill your sink with hot soapy water for cleaning drawers and shelves.
- Set out clean dishtowels on the counter top for drying.
- Fill a water bottle with 1 tsp white vinegar, 1 tsp dish soap and 1 cup water.
- Get out your coolers and fill them with ice packs from your freezer or ice.
- Use a digital appliance thermometer.
- Fridge should be at 4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees F) and Freezer should be at -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees F).
- Food not kept at the correct temperature will spoil more quickly and can cause foodborne illness.
- Go through your fridge first.
- Go shelf by shelf taking time to throw out the old and store what you will keep in the cooler.
- Toss anything you can’t remember opening and those obviously old, moldy or freezer burned. When in doubt, toss it out.
- Remove drawers and shelves and clean in the sink with hot soapy water. Set aside on clean dishtowels to dry.
- Spray the interior with the cleaner and wipe from top to bottom with a clean hot towel or sponge.
- Dry thoroughly and replace drawers and shelves.
- Change water and ice filters if needed.
- Wipe down the front grill at the bottom of the fridge.
- Wipe down front and sides of exterior and along the top.
- Organize according to usage and group like-items together.
- Keep condiments on the door and perishables on the shelves.
- Never store raw meat on a shelf above raw fruits and vegetables.
- Keep eggs in original containers not on the door.
Avoid the waste:
- Think about creative ways to use those almost empty bags of frozen vegetables and fruit.
- Try pasta vegetable bakes toped with a medley of leftover cheeses you need to use up.
- Use a variety of frozen berries in a fruit crumble or smoothie.
- Do a stir fry or soup with the last carrot, celery stick, partial fennel bulb and wilted spinach.
The Bottom Line: A clean kitchen helps prevent food borne illness.