A New Year brings new cleaning challenges — particularly if you’ve hosted a busy family Christmas. The first days of January are the perfect time for a little winter cleaning, and one of the areas that should be right at the top of your to-do list is your fridge.
But cleaning your fridge is only half the battle; keeping it clean and fresh over the following weeks can be very tricky. As long as you’re organised and take a systematic approach to your fridge’s cleanliness, you won’t find yourself cleaning it again after just a few days.
Perform a deep clean
Schedule a half day to clean your fridge, and run down the contents accordingly — the last thing you want to be doing is throwing perfectly good food away.
Completely empty your fridge, and cleaning it thoroughly with a sanitiser spray, fresh water and clean, microfibre cloths. Alternatively, use a handheld steam cleaner for the job, which both removes dirt and kills bacteria. Make sure you take the time to pull out shelves and clean them by hand.
Once you’re happy that you’ve removed any stains, spillages and accumulations of food, dry out the fridge with a clean cloth, and replace all of the shelves. If you’re worried about lingering smells, place a small cup of baking soda towards the back of the fridge, which should absorb the worst of the unpleasant aromas.
Check all your food
This is a great time to check all the dates on your food. Anything that is past its use-by date should be discarded immediately. Anything you know you won’t consume in time should also go — unless you can find an immediate use for it (or give it away).
If you have several of the same food item, order them by date — positioning the items going out of date the soonest at the front of the fridge. If you find that you’re throwing away lots of food, it’s a good idea to address your shopping habits. Use your own date labels to see how long it takes for certain items to be consumed, and change your purchasing decisions accordingly.
Create dedicated food areas
Keeping like with like in your fridge will help you and others in your home to keep things neat and organised. For instance, create one area for cheeses, and another for jars. If you want to give people a helping hand, you can even create labels for each area. If you struggle to find space, don’t be afraid to decant sauces and other foods into sealed containers — just remember to label and date them as you go.
Another great idea is to create a sandwich zone in your fridge — containing all of the basic ingredients needed to make sandwiches. Let’s face it; nothing is created more often in the average kitchen than a sandwich, so it pays to have everything accessible and grouped together. Keeping spreads, mayonnaise and fillings in one “zone” will also help you to keep track of what you’re running low on.
Seal and label leftover food
To keep your fridge clean and orderly for longer, you’ll need to take an organised approach to the storage of leftovers. Don’t just throw open bowls and pans into your fridge — transfer leftovers into sealable, plastic containers first. And if you really want to stay on top of things, use sticky labels to identify the contents of each container, as well as the date of production. This way, you won’t have to open containers to see what’s inside. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about your family consuming out-of-date food.
By being organised and structured with your approach to food storage, you should be able to keep your fridge look and smelling fresher for longer.