Spring Cleaning: The Refrigerator

Even though spring break was almost a month ago, I haven’t stopped my spring cleaning mission. Last week, I decided to tackle the fridge, freezer, and pantry.

Cleaning the refrigerator and freezer can sometimes present a challenge, since it involves keeping the fridge or freezer open for a long period of time, which is bad for food that needs to stay cold or frozen. It’s also difficult because, depending on who you are, you may have to go through a LOT of food.

I have found that this method works best for me, since I can work quickly to keep my food from sitting out for too long. I do this about twice each year, but that really depends on how long we live somewhere and whether or not it needs to be cleaned. I normally would have waited until we moved to do this, but something obviously leaked in there recently, and it smelled terrible. So here I am, cleaning out the fridge.

The Before Pics:

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Now, there’s a reason why these pictures are so out of focus and crappy. I had to take these as quickly as I could, since keeping the fridge or freezer open for long periods of time is BAD for the food. Since time is of the essence, I tried to keep this as quick as I could.

The easiest method I’ve found is working in one area at a time, so you can keep the areas you’re not working on cold. I started with the fridge, since it was food that could tolerate sitting out a little longer.

Area #1: The Refrigerator Door

Time: 2 minutes

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I started here because this was the easiest part. I cleared everything off the door, wiped it down with a soapy sponge, water, and dried with a towel. While putting everything back, I made sure to check the expiration dates on containers that I knew were old, or looked almost empty – and tossed the ones that were way over their date (yep, I had a few). Everything went back in an orderly fashion, and the whole process took maybe a minute or two, tops.

Area #2: The Refrigerator Shelves

Time: 4 minutes

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I like to start this process by making sure the trash can is nearby. It really helps on time if it’s right there while I go through and toss anything that’s old/moldy/outdated.

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I cleared everything out, tossing things in the trash as I went. Then I did the same thing as with the door – wiped with a soapy sponge, rinsed with a wet sponge, then towel dried the inside.

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I then took out the two crisper drawers on the bottom, and discovered immediately what the smell was coming from. Turns out something leaked…yuck:

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After a thorough scrubbing with a soapy sponge, it was looking (and smelling) good as new:

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Next, I returned everything back into the fridge, trying to keep like with like. I know it won’t stay that way, but it was nice to put everything back into a cleaner place!

Area #3: Crisper Drawers

Time: 2 minutes

This part was easy. So easy, in fact, that I didn’t take many pictures. It took all of a minute or two to remove everything, toss the bad stuff, and give them a good wipe down before putting them back. It’s also good to leave this until the end because by now, you can shut the refrigerator door to make sure the rest of the food stays cold while you tackle this part.

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I’m also finding that keeping some of our produce in containers helps with space. Our drawers are very small, so using plastic containers that stack easily gives us more room to pack in the produce!

Area #4: The Freezer

Time: 3-4 minutes

This part I usually save until the end because you have to do this very quickly, or some foods will start to thaw or melt. I start by quickly removing everything and setting it on the counter.

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Again, same method as the refrigerator – take everything out, give everything a quick wipe down and dry, then put everything back where it goes.

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Again, I’m finding that containers seem to work better in our tiny refrigerator and freezer, so instead of 3 bags of brown sugar (one light and two dark), I just put them in separate containers. I also do this with frozen fruit, since I’ve had the bags fall out of the freezer on me more than once. They’re super cheap ones from Ikea, so if they get ruined, stained, or crack…I’m okay with it.

Oh, and yes, I put my brown sugar in the freezer. Turns out freezing it keeps it from getting hard – just take it out for 5-7 minutes before you need it, and it will be just as soft as the day you bought it! I know there are other ways to do this, but this one works best for me.

So there you have it…a process that only took me 10 minutes total, and involved keeping the refrigerator open for only 6 minutes, and the freezer even less than that.

I also tackled our small pantry, but that was far less work. It just involved taking everything out, wiping down the shelves, and rearranging everything back in an orderly fashion. It took all of maybe 5 minutes. But here are some pics anyway because this post is already super long, so why not more pics?

Bonus Area #5: Pantry

Before:

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After:

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See? Mostly just me workin’ my anal-retentive genes. A place for everything, and everything in its place. I’m a dork, I know.

What kind of spring cleaning are you tackling in the near future?

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