Refrigerator Cleaning Tips

Your refrigerator is probably the #1 area that is critical to keep clean. It is the storage location for all food that can spoil and go bad. All of that food is trapped in a single air space, with no circulating air. If you get something bad into that contained environment, it will in essence contaminate every single food item in there.

Temperature
You can't just assume that your freezer and frige are at the proper temperature - if they are too warm, your food is spoiling. Grab a thermometer and put it into the various compartments. Let it sit for an hour and see what the temperature is actually registering in there. The freezer should be 0F. Since 32F is freezing, your freezer is a full 32 degrees BELOW freezing to guarantee that the food in there stays completely frozen. For the frige compartment, it should be at 40F. The aim here is to be CLOSE to freezing but not actually freeze.

Most food can only last in the freezer for 6 months or so at the most. Some foods - like ham and bacon - should only be in the freezer for a month at most. Again, don't use the freezer as "permanent storage". It can help temporarily preserve a food, but it is not eternal.

Odors
A box of baking soda can go a long way to at least keeping the odors down in your fridge. I keep one in my fridge and one in my freezer. Write a date on the box so you remember when you put it in there - try to change it every 6 months or so. In general, keep items in here sealed so the aromas don't get out.

Old Food
Food that lives in a frige or freezer is NOT eternal. That refrigerator is a temporary storage location. Therefore, put dates on things you open, like salsa, so that you remember how old it is. Put dates on anything that goes into the freezer. Remember, it is amazing how badly a single mouldy item can "infect" the other things in your fridge, so try to do a sweep weekly or so to toss out anything past its date.

A ton of people get food poisoning each year and don't even know it - they think they have a cold or a flu. Food poisoning is very common. You need to thoroughly cook your foods, and to eat it promptly. Any food that has been sitting at room temperature for 2 hours or more after being heated is a prime candidate for bacteria to grow in it. Think of picnics you've been to - surely a lot of that food has sat around for 2 hours or more! I also have a page on general Kitchen Cleaning Tips.

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