PROPERLY CLEAN THE REFRIGERATOR - It is a good practice to clean the inside of your refrigerator once a month. It will take about thirty minutes for a thorough job, so be sure to have everything ready before you begin. You will need: spray bottle filled with equal amounts vinegar and warm water / bucket and sponge/ new toothbrush/drying towel /cookie sheets or boxes/ vacuum cleaner or appliance brush.
Prepare your Refrigerator
Shut off your fridge and empty its contents onto cookie sheets or into boxes. This is a good time to toss any spoiled food. Remove your shelves, bins and any drawers setting them near your sink. Allow them to warm to room temperature before to avoid the risk of cracking. Spray the inside of the fridge starting with the opening wall working from bottom to top and from the side to the back and around to the opposite side. Spray the floor of the refrigerator and finish with the door. Taking your sponge, wipe inside the to distribute the spray evenly onto all surfaces. You are not cleaning yet so do not scrub, but re-spray any trouble areas now. Follow the same flow pattern that you used when you sprayed earlier.
Cleaning Your Refrigerator
Empty any remaining vinegar water into a bucket and add to it if necessary. Rinse your sponge and wipe the inside wall from the top down, working from the front to the back and then to the other side. If you have a stubborn area simply re-spray and allow the solution to work while you continue onto the next surface. Rinse your sponge often and if necessary, refresh your bucket with clean vinegar water. Wipe your door last. Take your drying towel and go over the inside of your fridge to remove any dampness and to be sure that you did not miss any areas.
Wash your Refrigerator shelves, drawers and bins
Run hot soapy water in your sink and wash each shelf, bin and drawer. Pay close attention to corners where spilled food and meat juices may have collected. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a towel, allowing to air dry an additional 30 minutes. Air drying is important since many of the internal pieces have plastic or rubber edges that need to be as dry as possible before being placed back into the fridge.
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Check and clean the Refrigerator door gasket
There is a rubber gasket that runs around the inside of the refrigerator door which prevents cold air from leaking out when your refrigerator doors are shut. It is flexible and fans out allowing dirt, dust and food to enter giving ground to mold or bacteria growth. It is important to keep this clean not only for health reasons but also since it helps keep your seal tight when the door is shut. Before cleaning you want to check the gasket for wear and tear. Using a dollar bill, simply close your fridge door on the bill and give a gentle tug. If the door will not hold the bill or it slips out easily the gasket may need to be replaced. Repeat the “dollar test” around the entire door. As you open the door to insert the bill, visually inspect the gasket for tears or worn areas. After you are satisfied that your gasket is in proper working order, the next step is to keep it clean. Take the dry toothbrush and gently run it along the inside edges of the gasket loosening and lifting any debris, then following with your dampened towel to remove the debris from around the gasket.
Clean your Refrigerator coils
Unplug your refrigerator and remove the grate at the bottom of the fridge. Wash and allow it to dry completely. While it is off, use your vacuum attachment or a thin appliance brush to “sweep” under the fridge any dust that has accumulated. Work thoroughly but carefully around the refrigerator coils. Re-attach the grate.
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Some refrigerators have the coils on the back, so you will need to pull the fridge out and away from the wall. If you have a small air compressor, it may be used to gently blow the debris off the coils. If not use the brush attachment on your vacuum or the small appliance brush.
Never place uncovered food in the fridge and when placing food in your fridge keep it away from touching the back and sides to allow maximum air circulation. Another good idea is to purchase a refrigerator thermometer so you can see immediately how well your fridge is maintaining its temperature, ideally 38 -40 degrees.
Regular cleaning and inspection can alert you to any problem areas that may need further attention. With proper maintenance, your refrigerator will provide you with many years of faithful service.