With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there’s no better time to celebrate National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!! November 15 is officially designated as the annual day to honor your fridge–the workhorse that you depend on 24/7, 365 days of the year–to keep food and beverages nutritious and delicious. Housing both raw and cooked foods as well as drinks and condiments, your refrigerator is also a vital appliance for reducing the risk of foodborne illness.
Refrigerator Cleaning Tips
- Remove everything in the refrigerator to enable cleaning all the surfaces, corners and crevices.
- Keep foods colder by transferring them to clean coolers or boxes until they go back in.
- Remove drawers or shelves and wash them in warm water mixed with dish soap.
- Rinse and dry before returning to the cleaned refrigerator.
- Use a mixture of warm water and dish soap to wipe the interior of the refrigerator.
- Wash the inside walls, the shelves, and all along the door seal.
- If necessary, refer to your owner’s manual regarding cleaning products/solutions that are approved for removing tough stains or odors.
- Wipe clean and mindfully return foods and beverages back into the refrigerator.
- Discard opened jars or packages of things that you know you just aren’t going to use again, or items that have exceeded their ‘best by’ or expiration date.
- Clean the floor underneath the fridge, and vacuum the coils at the back of the fridge, if your model has them.
- Clean the top of the fridge.
Refrigerator Cleaning Maintenance Tips
Reduce the hassle of refrigerator cleaning by doing the following on a day-to-day basis:
- Keep tabs on products in the refrigerator and throw out anything that is out of date.
- Most leftover foods should be eaten or discarded within 3-4 days. (If you don’t think you can eat them that quickly, reduce food waste by freezing them instead.)
- Moldy foods can contaminate other items, so discard them upon discovery and clean up anything they left behind!
- Clean up spills or drips as soon as possible to avoid bad smells and/or cross-contamination.
Additional Holiday Preparation Tips
- Before you shop for holiday ingredients, organize the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to make sure you have space for safely storing all the groceries.
- Keep in mind that raw frozen turkeys take up a large amount of space and can take several days to thaw, and that all raw meat should be placed below ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
- Leftovers can be a prized bonus after a holiday meal. Prepare for leftovers by having enough containers and space in your refrigerator or freezer.
Get into the spirit of the holiday season by cleaning out your refrigerator on November 15 (or as soon as you can get around to it)! Freshen it up and make room for all the seasonal holiday goodies that will soon be needing cold storage space.
Explore additional holiday resources and tip sheets (including high altitude information!) from CSU Extension.