Be it on a weekend or whenever you find the time during the week, no matter when you decide to finally check this chore off your to-do list, here’s the guide to help you through the process.
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Refrigerators are the best thing that could happen to mankind. From helping extend the shelf life of perishable food items, help keep drinks chilled to being the best (and safest) dumping ground for all our leftovers, a refrigerator is the handy kitchen helper. For all that your fridge does, it deserves some attention, care and love. It’s not uncommon to find dust, dirt, bacteria and mould making their way into the corners of our refrigerators. What’s worse, they don’t need much time to infiltrate food and beverage items. It’s therefore important that keep the refrigerator clean, which includes a thorough cleaning on at least a monthly basis, by squeezing in some frequent, simple cleanings in between.

Step 1: Empty

Before getting down to business, start by switching the refrigerator off so as to not waste electricity. Next, if a sparkling refrigerator is what you’re aiming for, you’ll have to empty all (yes, everything) the contents of your fridge. So set aside some space on your kitchen counter for the items that will do fine even when not refrigerated during the duration of the cleaning process.  In the meanwhile, you may want to store your perishable items in a cooler. Now with everything out of the fridge, quickly sort through the contents to decide what stays and what gets thrown out—for example, the untouched and expired collection of jams, pickles, and jellies that you don’t even remember buying.

Step 2: Scrub

Next, take out the shelves, drawers and door inserts too. Wash them just like you would wash your dishes, using a sponge or rag and some dish soap. You may also need an old toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies. Once you’re done scrubbing and washing, set them aside to dry. Next, place the storage containers in a dish soap or baking soda soak. You will need one tablespoon of baking powder per cup of water or equal parts of a mild soap and water mix. For stubborn oil stains and curry spills, make a baking powder and water paste, and then use a toothbrush to scrub them away. You could also instead use lemons to get rid of stains and spills.

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Step 3: Put Back

Once dried, return the shelves, drawers and inserts to their places. Open the lids of containers to check for any moulds and if they still have something in them. Using a wet cloth, wipe the exterior of the bottles to get rid of any sticky drips and don’t forget to tighten the lids properly so as to prevent any future drips. While reviewing the containers, in case you come across an almost empty jar of mayonnaise (or any other sauce or condiment), instead of throwing it, utilise it immediately to make  a delicious sandwich filling (https://livingfoodz.com/stories/Make-Your-Mornings-Good-With-These-Easy-Make-Ahead-Sandwiches-740). In the almost empty jar, add some cooked and shredded chicken or cut boiled eggs along with some pepper and other seasoning of your choice, then tighten the lid and shake well. You could store this in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Step 4: Organise

While placing the items back, keep your jellies, dressings, sauces, and pickles in the door shelves, where temperature changes won’t affect them much.

Your milk and other dairy-based foods should be placed on the inside shelves and not on the door.

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Use a foil to wrap your leftovers, and make sure to label the packages. It’s best to store leftovers on the middle shelves and not somewhere deep inside so that you remember to eat them before they start to turn bad. To extend the life of open cheeses and butter, wrap them in wax paper or foil.

Ditch the assigned place for eggs in your refrigerator and instead keep them in a container, anywhere in the back, where the temperature will remain constant. You could use that empty space on the door to store your dry masala powders. 

Wrap your greens in paper towels or old newspapers, after you’ve cleaned them, to prevent wilting and help maintain their freshness. Always remember to keep your veggies separate from un/cooked meats or other ready-to-eat food items. When it comes to storing raw meats/seafood, after washing, place in steel containers and dump in your freezer or on the bottom shelf of your fridge.   

Image: Shutterstock
Conceptualised by Sohail Joshi 

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