In 1999, Whirlpool Home Appliances established November 15th as “Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day,” a day for homeowners to clear out and clean up their refrigerator space. This holiday falls at an especially opportune time—with Thanksgiving right around the corner, participants are able to make room for all the delicious foods and ingredients they’re sure to have plenty of before (and following) Turkey Day.
If this holiday comes at just the right time for you and your family, you’re not alone! Today, we are sharing our best tips for combatting messy refrigerators—and how you can keep your refrigerator clean and controlled in the months following Thanksgiving as well.
Empty out your fridge shelf by shelf.
There are few things more overwhelming than a kitchen countertop laden in jars, cans, Tupperware, squeeze bottles, drinks… and whatever else you may have in your fridge. Avoid the overload by emptying out your fridge shelf by shelf and drawer by drawer. Start at the top and set up a clear, empty space on your kitchen counter or breakfast table to serve as a sorting zone for the food—later on, you’ll go item by item and decide what to do with it.
Remove drawers and shelves for cleaning.
Once you’ve removed all the food from a drawer or shelf, take it out (if possible) for some deep cleaning. If your fridge seems to have a constant odor, it may be coming from the materials themselves and not necessarily the food. Wipe everything down with warm, soapy water. (Avoid using harsh chemicals here, since they aren’t necessary and can give your fridge and food a chemical taste.) Let the pieces dry before returning them to the fridge.
If you can’t remove a portion of the fridge, scrub it down with the same soapy water solution. Use a washcloth or old toothbrush to tackle small spaces—small odor-causing food particles may be lurking in these hard to reach spots!
Toss out old, expired, unused or “mysterious” food.
This tip is a given, but it may take some time and willpower to carry out completely. You should go through every item and ask yourself: Will my family or I actually use this food item? Is it too old to enjoy? Even though you probably bought the food with the best intentions, you may not ever use it after it’s been sitting in your fridge for weeks or even months. Be honest with yourself and throw food out in this case—you can always buy newer, fresher items later on!
Of course, if you find yourself asking “What is this food?” you’ll definitely want to throw it away! Mysterious leftovers have no business staying in your fridge.
Find new containers or methods of storage for the food you do keep.
Only return clean items to the fridge. Many food containers may develop and leave residue in your fridge, so wipe them down or invest in new containers if necessary. Place opened but still edible items in plastic sandwich bags or plastic containers to keep them fresh and prevent them from causing a mess in your fridge.
Work to maintain a fridge that’s always fresh and clean.
Once your fridge clean-out is completed, you’ll want to maintain that fresh and clean feeling… but don’t worry, it’s probably easier than you thought! Aside from taking care of small messes as they occur, adding an open container of baking soda to your fridge is the best way to prevent odor from building up among your food. To prevent old food from sneaking up on you again, practice only having one of everything (if you like to stockpile, however, many fridge-only items can be kept in the pantry until they are opened). If you wind up with doubles on your hand, place the newer version behind the older one so your family and guests use that up first.
With Thanksgiving on its way, we hope that these fridge tips can be of service to you and your family!