How to Clean a Refrigerator With Baking Soda & Vinegar

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Cleaning the fridge with bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda) and vinegar is a go-to strategy for good reason. They're effective cleaners that are already in your kitchen and won't introduce questionable chemicals into your fridge. You may combine baking soda and vinegar as you tackle your refrigerator's spills and stains, or use them separately on different parts of the appliance; individually, they each have powerful, food-safe cleaning properties.

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Getting Started

The first step in deep cleaning your fridge is probably obvious: Empty it completely. Have an empty trash bag nearby to throw away anything that's expired or inedible, and maybe a small cooler to hold refrigerated medications or milk products while you work on the fridge. This project shouldn't take more than an hour so most things like condiments and produce will be fine on the counter, but using a cooler for things that spoil easily may be advisable if it's hot in your kitchen or if you expect to take breaks during the cleaning process.

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Once the fridge is empty, take out any removable drawers and shelves. If they're plastic, you can wash them right away; let any glass shelves or drawers warm up to room temperature before washing them, since running hot water over cold glass can make it shatter.

Cleaning a Fridge With Bicarbonate of Soda

Cleaning the fridge with bicarbonate of soda should remove stuck-on food debris and minimize lingering odors. Because you can't sprinkle baking soda on the vertical walls of your fridge, try sprinkling it on a wet sponge and use the sponge to scrub baking soda paste all over the walls, floor and interior door. Rewet the sponge and add more baking soda whenever it starts to feel dry. Follow with a clean wet sponge or wet paper towels to remove any baking soda residue.

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Vinegar can also be used as part of your fridge cleaning routine, but it's optional. Using it may make your fridge and its contents smell of vinegar for a few days. If you're okay with that, using vinegar is an easy way to dissolve stains and kill bacteria. Fill a spray bottle with a solution of one part white vinegar to three parts water and spritz it all over the interior surfaces of the fridge. Wipe away the solution with a cloth or damp sponge.

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The bubbling reaction created by combining baking soda and vinegar may help break up the most stubborn food stains. Try using a sponge soaked with vinegar and sprinkled with baking soda to scrub at those troublesome spots.

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Cleaning Drawers and Shelves

Removable drawers and shelves can be washed in a number of ways. Clean them in the sink with nothing more than dish soap and warm water, or load them into your dishwasher and run them through a cycle with detergent to clean and sanitize them.

If these parts are too large to maneuver them in your sink or dishwasher, place them on a counter and wipe down using a wet paper towel with a little dish soap. Follow with a clean wet cloth to remove any soap residue. Clean dried spills and sticky spots on removable fridge parts by sprinkling baking soda in these areas and scrubbing them with a sponge or cloth dampened with vinegar.

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Cleaning Fridge Doors and Deodorizing

Save cleaning the outside of the refrigerator for last. Wipe down the doors with a cloth moistened with soapy water or spritz them with the vinegar solution, followed by a clean damp cloth.

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Once the fridge is completely clean and sparkling, admire the view for a moment – then get to work putting all your potentially smelly, leaky food and drinks back inside. Prevent new odors from accumulating by setting a shallow dish of baking soda in the fridge; at least some of the odor molecules should adhere to the baking soda instead of the walls of the fridge or other food. Alternately, put a sachet made of activated charcoal in a thin cloth bag into the fridge. Activated charcoal is highly effective at absorbing odors.

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