You did it! You successfully cooked a Thanksgiving meal, hosted your family and friends, and cleaned the entire house afterward. But when one major holiday ends, there’s usually another one right around the corner. If you’re getting ready for your next gathering in December, chances are you’ve got a lot of prep work and potential stress coming your way. One of the ways you can help alleviate some stress and start your next holiday off right the bat is by refreshing your fridge, and knowing some refrigerator cleaning hacks can make the process that much easier.
This may not seem like a big deal to some, but a dirty fridge filled with expired products and leftovers past their prime can make cooking difficult. When your fridge looks really dirty, has a funky smell, and is packed with old food buried deep inside, your situation becomes all the more challenging, especially if you’re expected to plan the next big festive holiday feast.
To help you get started tackling the mess in your fridge before your next hosting engagement, we gathered up some easy refrigerator cleaning hacks to try. And once you’re done with that, try your hand at a holiday dessert with these 9 Secrets for Baking the Best Cake That Only Pastry Chefs Know.
Take everything out, use a vacuum, & wipe down the inside
This is the first and most crucial step when cleaning your refrigerator. While wearing a pair of rubber gloves, take out everything—and we mean everything. Grab a trash bag and toss the stuff that has gone bad, then set aside the items you intend to save and put back in.
Next, grab a handheld vacuum or vacuum attachment that can fit in small spaces to get little crumbs and other dirt that may have gotten stuck in the cracks. It may seem odd and feel weird to vacuum your fridge, but this is the best way to get up all of those nasty particles out of the hard-to-reach places.
From there, you can wipe everything down. What cleaning products you use depends on your personal cleaning preference, but you’re going to want to use more than water if you can. That way you can eliminate some of the smells and get rid of as many lingering germs and residue as you can. You can try disinfectant wipes, like those from Lysol or Clorox, and also use a multipurpose spray. For a more natural alternative to these cleaning products, you can also fill a spritz bottle with hot water and vinegar based on a three-to-one ratio.
Eliminate the bad odor
Even after you’ve cleaned out the fridge, there’s still the possibility that some pesky smells will linger. As you start to organize and put things into place, it’s a good idea to use a natural deodorizer to not only wipe away the current smells, but hopefully prevent more in the future.
One of the most common hacks for this is using baking soda. You can buy your own small box and leave it open on the shelf, or you can grab a bowl and add in a few scoops to leave in the fridge. This will naturally soak up some of those remaining smells.
Another lesser-known hack is dipping cotton balls into vanilla extract, and placing them in a bowl on a shelf in your refrigerator. This will add a nice, subtle layer of a warming vanilla smell to help counteract the lingering food odor.
Use storage bins to organize
When you’re ready to start putting stuff back into your refrigerator and restocking on items you need, having an organizational plan is going to be helpful. And one of the easiest hacks for cleaning and organizing your fridge is getting a few storage bins to go on the shelves in order to clear some of the clutter.
You can use these storage bins to divide up and organize food items by type, separating your fruit, vegetables, cheeses, yogurts, and so forth. You’ll not only appreciate the aesthetic appearance of the inside of your fridge, but also it will make things easier to find when you’re in the middle of cooking and give you more peace of mind when you need to grab something in a hurry.
Grab a few spill protectors for the shelves
One of the most annoying things to happen in your refrigerator is when you’ve gone through the trouble of wiping everything down, only to have some unwanted spills from all the various liquids sitting inside.
A great and affordable cleaning hack for preventing unnecessary spillage is to grab yourself a few liners for the shelves. These can easily lay on top of the shelves and catch any unexpected spills or drops, making for an extra easy cleaning process.
Designate a ‘going bad’ section
This may be one of the most underrated refrigerator cleaning hacks out there. Once you’ve purchased some organization bins, try designating one as your “going bad soon” section. This can include everything from sauces, to produce, to dairy, and so on. That way, things won’t go as easily forgotten and left in the back of the fridge to rot, and you’ll have these items in mind when you open the door every time.