What is the one important appliance that is at the center of the kitchen? It’s the refrigerator, as it is supposed to safely store all of our perishable food. Without it, we wouldn’t have many of the yummy foods that we like to eat. However, many people don’t realize that food is also what germs like the most. Did you know that there are thousands of more germs in a typical kitchen sink than there are on a typical toilet seat? It’s because of the food that feeds not only us but the germs that are around us. However, we just aren’t that aware of the level of filth that is in our refrigerators. We leave leftovers in there until they grow cultures. We spill things and don’t clean them up right away. We leave jars of food in our refrigerators way too long. Maybe we think it is because we incorrectly assume that because our refrigerators are cold that germs can’t grow at all. However, germs do grow in our refrigerators, and it’s not only unpleasant, it can be downright dangerous to our health. Compounding that fact is that we very often put off cleaning our refrigerator, and even when we do, we don’t sometimes clean it properly. It’s a no-brainer that the appliance should be kept clean and hygienic as possible in order to reduce the risk of food poisoning and disease. We’ve written this article for our neighbors on the Space Coast n order to offer some tips on how to properly clean your refrigerator and freezer.

Get your supplies and tools together first. You want to think ahead and make sure that you have a cooler and ice ready to put the food into while you are cleaning. You will also need lots of cleaning cloths or a clean sponge, dish soap, a plastic scrubber, rubber gloves, trash bags, a flashlight and a vacuum cleaner.

Common kitchen cleaners can be very strong, containing many chemicals that kill common kitchen germs. These products should not come into contact, either directly or in a lingering way, with food in the refrigerator. You will want to go to the store and buy glass cleaner for cleaning the outside of any stainless steel, and a microfiber cloth is great for getting rid of the streaks and fingerprints. For non-stainless steel surfaces and the inside of your refrigerator, you can use your normal kitchen dishwashing liquid and hot water to wipe the insides of your fridge and soak the drawers in. You can also make your own homemade cleaner. Start with a gallon of hot water and pour in a cup of ammonia, a half cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of baking soda. This mixture not only cleans, it also helps to prevent mold and germs.

Stick all of the food into coolers so that you can make sure to reach every crevice and crack. If you are going to clean your fridge, might as well go all in, right? Also, taking everything out of the unit allows you take an inventory of your foodstuffs much easier than if they are tucked away out of sight. Weed out anything that is old, rotten, smelly or just doesn’t give you a good feeling. If doing this makes you feel queasy, wear gloves. Throw it all directly into the trash!

Remove all of the shelves and drawers and soak them in soapy water for a while to loosen the grime, then use a scrub brush on them, rinse and dry. You can also use your homemade cleaner here if you really want to disinfect. If there are areas that are hard to get to, use an old toothbrush.

Make sure to wipe down the walls, shelf seams, and the rubber door seal. Use a non-abrasive sponge to remove sticky, caked-on spills, and an old toothbrush for getting into crevices.
After wiping down all the inside surfaces, you might notice stains left. For these tough areas, press a very hot sponge over the area to try to soften the sticky stain. You can also try a pencil eraser. Replace all the shelves and drawers you took out. Remember to double check the food that you put back in.

You might want to clean the coils of the refrigerator occasionally. CAUTION: Make sure to shut off the power supply to avoid getting shocked! The coils will be either in the back of the fridge, under the fridge behind the grille or sometimes on the top of the fridge. Use a brush to remove the dust and debris then sweep or vacuum up the dust and cobwebs.

If your freezer doesn’t have an auto defrost, then turn it off and defrost it for several hours before you clean it out. Take care not to use a screwdriver or other tool to hurry the cleanup as you might damage your unit.

Make sure to use your refrigerator correctly. That means vegetables should go in the crisper drawer where the temperature is ideal for veggies. Because the door is a little warmer than the rest of the unit, don’t store eggs, milk, or meat there. Put condiments there instead. Go to another level in your refrigerator by organizing it a way that makes sense to you. Keep like items with like. To absorb odors, stick an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator. Taking these steps on a regular basis is healthier, and you might find that it makes you feed more appealing as well!

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