After a month spent groaning under the weight of Christmas food and party treats, your fridge could probably do with some looking after – and the new year is as good a time as any to give your fridge cleaning a boost. Without good care and maintenance our refrigerators can become an easy target for bacteria to grow, which can lead to bad smells, unsafe food storage, and wasted groceries left rotting in forgotten corners. With our handy five-step guide, cleaning your fridge never has to be a scary (and sometimes disgusting) task again.
Regularly defrosting any ice build-up in your fridge increases your systems longevity and keeps it in good working order, as well as making it easier for you to clean. First things first, remove all food in order to properly defrost. Turn the temperature up to allow any ice to melt, scrubbing with hot soapy water if you need to speed the process up. If the inner shelves or trays are detachable, remove them and wash with hot water and soap, then leave to dry. If not, you can wash them inside the fridge, but make sure to dry them to avoid ice forming again.
While your fridge is defrosting, take the opportunity to give it a proper scrub – use a hot water and soap solution to scrub the inside surface, door, and sides. Run any trays through the dishwasher if possible, and leave to dry. Once everything is ready, turn the temperature back down to cool, and replace the shelves, trays, and food carefully. This process should be repeated every week or every few weeks, depending on how much you use your fridge.
Separate raw and cooked meat and fish
Make sure when placing meat or fish in the fridge that you keep raw products stored below cooked products, on the bottom shelf if possible. This keeps the rest of your food from becoming contaminated by any of the bacteria that lives on raw meat and fish, and means that any leaks or spillages will not spread far. As a general rule, try not to keep these items in the fridge for too long – if you need to store them for longer it is best to freeze them to keep things as hygienic as possible.
Wrap and seal fresh produce and leftovers
Remember not to place half-used cans back in the fridge, as the chemicals in a broken tin can will oxidise and produce toxins that can dissolve into the contents. The exposed food inside can also gather bacteria quickly, much like leftovers, which also need to be covered so they do not contaminate the rest of your fridge. It is best to transfer any remaining food to tupperware boxes or clingfilm-covered bowls. Fruit and vegetables can also be wrapped and sealed to help them last longer, and keep your fridge clean.
Banish bad smells
Lingering groceries that have started to rot are behind some of the worst smells in your kitchen, so make sure to regularly throw out any bad food to keep things fresh. Catching any spills quickly also prevents nasty odours – and if the offending item won’t budge try using a baking soda or vinegar solution on the area. When buying fresh food, adopting the ‘little and often’ method means you are not as likely to overstuff your fridge, products will have less time to go bad, and the chances of knocking things over are far fewer!
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