A household fridge can become dirty and unsanitary very quickly, which is why it is important to have a rigid schedule of cleaning in place. As well as being unsightly, a dirty fridge has the potential to cause health issues and quality problems with your food. If carried out regularly, fridge cleaning doesn’t have to be a major job, however.
You won’t be able to get into all the nooks and crannies of your fridge if you are trying to clean it whilst it’s full. So, before you clean anything, you should remove all of the food in it. If you tend to do one big shop every week, schedule your cleaning the day before your shopping trip, as this means you won’t have too much food to discard or store away.
Anything that shouldn’t be left out of your fridge for more than two hours should be given away, transferred into another fridge or consumed. Once your fridge is empty, you can start to remove all of the storage compartments, trays and shelves.
Cleaning shelves, drawers and trays
Fill a large bucket with hot, soapy water, and use a dishwashing sponge to clean all of the drawers and shelves by hand. However, it is important to give glass shelves a while to reach room temperature, as a sudden change from cold to hot could shatter them.
If you have trouble removing particularly stubborn accumulations of food, a solution of water and ammonium should break down most foodstuffs. Leave all your shelving and storage to air dry, and then turn your attention to the fridge itself.
Cleaning inside the fridge
At this stage, most people will turn to their favoured cleaning agent and sanitiser to clean, but there is no need for expensive – and potentially allergenic – cleaning chemicals. You can make a very effective cleaning solution from things you might already have in your kitchen. Add around two tablespoons of baking soda to two litres of water to create a natural kitchen cleaning agent. You might also want to add a little white vinegar to increase its potency.
With a micro-fibre cloth, rigorously wipe down all the surfaces of your fridge, remembering to clean the various compartments inside the door. And you should also take the time to carefully wipe down all the seals on your fridge door, as they can harbour food debris and bacteria.
You should now have a beautifully clean fridge, but you can’t be certain that any dormant bacteria living within it has been completely killed off. If your fridge is working correctly, (holding food at between 2C and 8C) bacteria should be either dormant or multiplying at an incredibly low rate. But to be sure that you’ve killed the vast majority of potentially dangerous pathogens, you will need to sanitise all of the surfaces inside your fridge.
Instead of forking out for expensive sanitisers every few days, you can use a handheld steam cleaner, allowing you to reach every corner of your fridge with ease. The super-heated steam alone should be powerful enough to kill up to 99% of food poisoning bacteria.
In order to sanitise the recesses and various compartments in your fridge, you should remove the window squeegee attachment and replace it with the direct steam nozzle. This will allow you to kill bacteria in the more inaccessible areas of your fridge, as well as remove the stubborn accumulations you couldn’t remove with your micro-fibre cloth.
Cleaning the outside of a fridge
While you can use an all-purpose cleaner to clean the outside of your fridge, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from using your steam cleaner again. Pay extra attention to handles and any areas that come into daily contact with hands, as these are the areas where bacteria will be most prevalent.
It is always a good idea to clean the fan blade and condenser coils when you clean the inside of your fridge – these essential parts are critical to its performance. However, before you go anywhere near them, you should unplug your refrigerator from its electricity supply.
In most fridges, the condenser coils and fan can be found at the back, but refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines before cleaning. Use the crevice tool that comes your vacuum cleaner to clear these areas of food debris and dust.
A household fridge has the important job of protecting your food – and ultimately your health. Keep it clean and sanitary at all times, and you can be confident it will perform its primary function.