How to: Maintain a clean fridge

How to: Maintain a clean fridge

Bright white kitchen appliances. Author: iStockphoto


How to: Maintain a clean fridge

Find everything you need to keep your refrigerator and its contents fresh.

Ever open up your fridge and get a whiff of something less than appetizing? it happens to the best of us. Staying on top of spills and isolating pungent foods, such as onions and cheese, is not enough. Truth is, your groceries begin to decay before you even lay your hands on them, so shop smart. Draft shopping lists based on detailed weekly meal plans and stick to them. Only defrost meat and fish as needed. Consume the most vulnerable produce – such as berries and leafy greens – first, and leave hardier fruits and veggies like apples for later in the week. Cooking food only prolongs its life by a matter of days, so eat those leftovers or toss them. Keep a keen eye on best-before dates and watch out for rot, removing culprits promptly to prevent mould and bacteria from spreading.


Deep clean
Once a season, move all the food in your fridge to a cooler. Hand wash removable pieces separately with dish soap. Spray the interior of the fridge with a solution of equal parts hot water and white vinegar; let sit for 20 minutes. Wipe clean with a wet sponge and dry with a clean cloth. Replace the removable components and food.

Front and centre
To prevent older food from getting buried under new, before unloading groceries, remove the perishables already in the fridge and replace them last. (This is also a great time to do any necessary spot cleaning.)

DO: Keep your refrigerator at the optimal temperature of between 2 and 3°C.

DON’T: Over-pack your fridge; air circulation is key to maintaining a consistent coolness throughout.

Everything in its place
Here’s the optimal use for each zone in your fridge.

Bottom shelf
Always the coldest: Keep milk and defrosting meat, poultry and fish here.

Middle shelf
Consistently cold: It’s great for leftovers.

Top shelf
Reliably cool: It’s ideal for drinks and packaged foods, such as yogurt.

Fluctuating temperatures: Use for long-shelf-life items (condiments, jams, etc.).

Cold and humid: separate produce here; adjust humidity to low for fruit and high for vegetables. If you have a third, use it for cheese.


Fresh finds
Three products to help keep your fridge looking and smelling clean.

1 Expiration expert
Reusable fridge-, dishwasher- and microwave-safe labels keep expiry dates in view. Adhesive date mates labels, Mabel’s Labels $21 per set of 27 each.

2 Spill safe
Line drawers and shelves with these machine-washable absorbent sheets. Refrigerator liners, Bed Bath & Beyond, $7 per set of 3.

3 Odour ouster
Manage odours using a scent-free natural- carbon air freshener. Air fresheners, Coco Natural Air Freshener, from $12 each.


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How to: Maintain a clean fridge