Let's be real – the best way to clean your fridge is as quickly as possible. It's gross, you're busy and crouching down to scrub at hardened puddles of who knows what is nobody's idea of a good time, but clean it you must, so let's get this over with. Using a combination of cleaning shortcuts and organizational hacks, your fridge will look factory-new in no time, and you'll know just where to find a celebratory snack.
1. Clean Spills Quickly With Press-and-Seal Wrap
You're rifling through various leftovers when you see it: the dreaded fridge spill. Something has hardened into a sticky mess on the shelf, and now you have to pull everything out and scrub the glass shelf in the sink without getting water absolutely everywhere. Skip this hassle by adhering sheets of press-and-seal plastic wrap to fridge shelves. When a mess happens, simply peel up the sheet, toss it out and replace it with a new one.
2. Banish Crumbs With a Toothbrush
It's where the food lives, so it's hardly surprising that you would find errant crumbs wedged into the corners of the refrigerator shelves and drawers. A clean toothbrush is the perfect tool for getting your fridge truly clean. While the fridge is empty, dip the brush in clean, soapy water and use it to get everything out of those nooks and crannies.
3. Sanitize Drawers in the Dishwasher
When was the last time your crisper drawers were really, truly clean? Considering you may keep unwrapped produce in these drawers, they really should be sanitized with some regularity. Like a refrigerator's shelves, its removable drawers are often bulky and tough to clean by hand. Make life easier by running any removable parts through your dishwasher on its hottest sanitizing setting. Check your model's instruction manual first to verify that these parts are dishwasher-safe.
4. Clean the Water Line With Vinegar
It really doesn't bear thinking about what might be growing inside the line that delivers clean water through your fridge and out through its built-in water dispenser. Cleaning this part of the fridge is just as important as cleaning any other part of it. Consult your manual for specifics about accessing the water line. Disconnecting the water supply and pouring a few cups of white vinegar through the line should clear out any mildew that may be flourishing within.
5. Deodorize With Activated Charcoal
You could blame the other members of your household for creating the not-so-fresh smell in the fridge (somebody forgot to throw away last week's takeout!), or you could just deal with the odor. An open box of baking soda may absorb some stinky fridge smells, but activated charcoal can be even more effective. Find it at a pet store with the aquarium supplies and then place a small open bowl of charcoal in a back corner of the fridge. Swap it for a fresh bowl whenever you start to detect new odors.
6. Organize Shelves With Empty Six-Packs
The shelves on the refrigerator door are the perfect place to store condiments and bottles, but when these containers spill or leak, it creates hard-to-clean messes that you may not notice right away. Start stashing empty cardboard six-pack containers on these shelves and tuck individual containers into each compartment. Not only will the door stay organized, but anything that does spill will be largely contained.
7. Use a Fridge Lazy Susan
How many times have you opened a new container of something only to find a mostly full one hiding in the back of the fridge? Now, you have two open jars of salsa that both have to be kept cold. Being able to access everything within the fridge is essential for good organization and cleanliness. A rotating turntable shelf, commonly called a lazy Susan, is perfect for holding all those little jars of condiments and sauces that don't really fit anywhere else. Buy one at a home supply store.
8. Wipe Down the Gasket
Take a close look at the rubber gasket that creates an airtight seal all around the outside of the fridge. Dirt and mildew can collect there, so cleaning the gasket is a quick way to keep the entire appliance looking and smelling clean. (Plus, taking care of gaskets keeps warm air from seeping into the fridge.) Wet a cloth in warm, soapy water and gently clean the gasket with the soapy cloth followed by a clean, damp cloth. Finish with a dry cloth.
9. Use Stackable Drawers
You know those stackable, clear, plastic drawers that you can buy at the dollar store to organize your office supplies or underwear drawer? They can be just as useful in your fridge. Try using a stack of clean drawers to hold things like cheese, fresh produce or individual snacks for the kids. As long as the drawers are removable, you can fairly easily wash them if anything spills inside.
10. Give the Drip Pan Some Love
Have you tried everything else to deodorize your fridge but an unpleasant smell remains? Try cleaning the appliance's drip pan, which sits under the fridge and should collect any dripping water. Bacteria can flourish in this wet, dark area. Because there's a lot of variation in how refrigerators are designed, it may take some research to figure out how to access the drip pan of yours. Once it's free, simply clean it and put it back; your fridge should smell better already. It may be necessary to call in professional help if you can't access your fridge's drip pan, as some aren't designed to be removed.