I hate cleaning the refrigerator.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a time when frost-free refrigerators were rare. The tiny freezer at the top of our fridge had more ice in it than the North Pole and it was my job to defrost it. It was a painful job. I got my fingers stuck to the ice more times than I could count, I stabbed myself often with whatever I was using to chip away at stubborn ice, and my hands had mild frostbite by the time I was done!
For whatever reason, I dislike anything having to do with cleaning the refrigerator. So, I did some research on hacks to make the job easier.
One of the top tips was: “Wipe up spills as soon as they happen.” Well, that’s just great advice … IF YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE LIVING IN YOUR HOUSE! Come on experts, let’s get real.
I dug deeper and found some advice that actually sounds like it could work. (I also found some advice that was ridiculous: “Decant everything into matching plastic squeeze bottles and label them with your label maker”. Are you kidding me?! A) I don’t have a label maker and B) I don’t have the time (or the inclination) to empty my ketchup and mustard, etc. into matching squeeze bottles!).
The below tips are ones I’ve found to be realistic and doable:
* Line the refrigerator shelves with plastic placemats – This was my favorite hint and I’m putting it first in case, like me, you have the attention span of a gnat. I am so going to do this! You could also use vinyl cling, a shower curtain cut to fit, or even plastic wrap. No more removing bulky shelves and trying to clean them in your sink!
* Put a piece of fabric on top of the fridge – You know that greasy dirt that collects on the top of your fridge? Gross! I used to climb up and down a stepstool with a spray cleaner and a damp sponge. I finally got smart and cut fabric to fit the top of the fridge. Now, I can just throw it in the wash.
* Make a “husband condiment box” – I don’t know about you, but my husband has enough sauces to open his own store. They clutter the fridge and drive me bonkers. Plus, no one uses them except him. By making a husband box in the fridge, I could actually see what food I have.
* Baby Wipes – Baby wipes can be used to wipe up shelves quickly and can be used on the outside of the fridge too (apparently they’re magical on stainless steel doors).
* Make an “Eat First” box – Another great idea. Fill the box with the food that will expire the soonest and get your family in the habit of looking in that box first for snacks.
* Thaw and store meat on a tray or plate – No matter how well it’s wrapped, meat always seems to “spring a leak” and there is nothing grosser than trying to clean up dried blood. Plus, this reduces the chance of cross contamination.
* Keep masking or painter’s tape and a sharpie close by – You can quickly mark foods with the expiration date or, since I live with guys, I mark food with “This is mine!” or “Don’t eat this!” labels.
* Store items in unusual ways – In our fridge, tall shelves are in short supply. Plus, we all have different dietary needs so we stock regular milk, almond milk AND coconut milk. We’ve had to find different ways to store things. We now store our cartons on their sides with the spout up. Works great and no more using up all the tall shelves.
* Clean the fridge with baking soda and water – This is an oldie but a goodie. Make a paste of baking soda and water for tough stains or add a sprinkle of soda to warm water to clean your shelves. It’s the safest method to use, plus you get the added benefit of eradicating smells.
* Keep an open box of baking soda in the fridge – Last, but certainly not least, keep an open box of baking soda in your fridge to combat odors. You can also use activated charcoal from the pet store.
And, remember, your fridge is meant to serve your family’s needs. So, ignore all the “experts” and set it up any way that works for you!