Given that most of our fresh food is packaged up and stowed in neat containers, we often slack when it comes to cleaning out our refrigerators.
However, neglecting this important cleaning task could contribute to the growth of dangerous bacteria – even when food is kept in containers.
How often should you clean a refrigerator?
To cut a long story short, it is generally best to give your fridge a quick clean once a week and deep clean it every two to four months, depending on your usage, begins Marla Mock, president of expert cleaning service Molly Maid, a Neighborly Company.
‘You should check expiration dates of food and check for leaky containers making sure to toss anything out of the ordinary weekly to stay on top of messes,' Marla recommends. ‘Then, around every two to four months, you should perform a deep cleanse. This includes removing every item from the fridge, including crisper drawers, and wiping the shelves with warm water and dish soap. Be sure to dry down all surfaces after washing to ensure no water pools in the fridge, causing ice buildup or staining.'
‘I also recommend using a sponge dipped in warm water and baking soda solution to scrub away any stubborn build-up while also deodorizing. For an added touch, you can use a vanilla vinegar cleaner to deodorize your fridge by adding a small amount of vanilla extract to your mixture to add a subtle fragrance after cleaning.’
Marla Mock, CFE, was named president of Molly Maid in March 2023 after serving as Vice President of Operations of Molly Maid since 2021. Marla is responsible for the overall leadership and growth of Molly Maid throughout the US.
'Whether you clean your fridge sooner or later will largely depend on how you use your fridge,' continues Karina Toner, cleaning expert and operations manager at Spekless Cleaning. If you access your fridge more regularly and store more food, it will need cleaning more frequently than a fridge that is left largely empty, for instance.
‘What’s more, warmer climates may necessitate more frequent cleanings to prevent bacterial growth and food spoilage,’ Karina continues. ‘Humid environments can contribute to moisture buildup and mold growth, requiring more diligent cleaning efforts.
‘Finally, properly sealing and organizing a fridge can extend the time between cleanings by minimizing spills and reducing cross-contamination,’ she adds.
Karina is the Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a trusted maid service based in Washington D.C. The team has over five years of experience providing top-quality cleaning services for residential and commercial clients. Karina oversees every aspect of the business, ensuring every client gets the same top-notch service and a spotless clean every time.
Why frequent cleaning is essential
1. Frequent cleaning kills bacteria
The most important benefit to regularly cleaning a fridge is fending off bad bacteria to help maintain good food hygiene. This maintains the freshness of food while reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses.
It also helps to remove spoiled food as soon as it turns, if not before, if it is approaching an expiration date and you know you won't finish it.
2. It makes your kitchen smell good
'One thing people with nice-smelling kitchens always do is clean out their fridges,' reminds cleaning expert Marla Mock. There is nothing worse than the lingering odor of your leftovers from a week ago.
‘If you are concerned about smells, leave an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb any unwanted scents,’ Marla recommends. 'Be sure to write the date on the box so you can replace it after two months when baking soda begins losing its deodorizing effects.’
3. It keeps your fridge efficient
‘Preventing frost buildup keeps them cool without any extra hassle and stress on the appliance,’ he explains.
4. It keeps your fridge organized
'Regular cleaning and decluttering a fridge also helps to keep it more organized, making cooking a lot simpler and less overwhelming,' says Will Cotter, cleaning guru.
A well-organized, clean space reduces the risk of forgetting an item at the back of the refrigerator, overspending on items you already have, and even fridge burn by preventing items from being pushed right to the back.
Regularly cleaning your fridge also helps to spot any minor maintenance issues by unblocking drainage holes and inspecting the coils for damage or wear. This prevents an emergency later down the line, such as wondering why your fridge leaks water. For a proper overview of your appliance, be sure to also clean the outside of your fridge and the area around it to keep your kitchen safe and hygienic.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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