When was the last time you cleaned your fridge? If we were to come over to your house right now, would we find any ketchup spatter on the door, milk stains on the shelves, or dry bits of lettuce at the bottom of the drawers?
Hopefully, you are the kind of person that addresses a fridge spill or splash as soon as it occurs. But even if you are, you may be forgetting to also give this appliance a proper clean every now and then.
To ensure that both your beloved refrigerator is kept clean and tidy, and that all the tasty food you store in it remains fresh and safe for as long as possible, let’s answer the question of the hour: how often do you need to clean the fridge, really?
How Often Should You Clean Your Fridge?
You should give your fridge a thorough clean every 3-4 months. However, there are cleaning tasks that you need to tackle much more often too.
Make sure to handle any spills, splashes, splatter and smears as soon as they occur. That way, you’ll avoid any sticky spots from forming, and you won’t have to scrub at them a couple of weeks down the line.
If you also make a habit of wiping any jars and bottles right after use, to ensure no insubordinate jam, ketchup, maple syrup or other delicacy ends up making a mess, your fridge should remain quite clean indeed.
You should also remove any expired, stale, rotting or old food from the fridge once a week. Perform a thorough checkup, ideally right before you go out for your weekly food shop. That way, you’ll both know exactly what you need to buy, and clean the fridge at the same time.
Don’t forget to check way at the back, and right at the bottom of your drawers, as this is where the oldest items tend to reside.
Once you hit that 3-4 month mark, it’s time for a deep clean. This will involve getting rid of everything that’s out of date or past its use once again, wiping down all the shelves and walls, washing the drawers, and removing any stains you may have missed during your regular checkups.
Every 6 months, you also want to get all the dust off your fridge’s grille. Your vacuum cleaner will aid you in this endeavour, or you can use a clean and dry cloth for the task.
If you have an ice maker, this is also the best time to replace your water filter.
Do Fridges Need to be Cleaned?
Yes, your fridge definitely needs to be cleaned.
Out of all of your household appliances, this is the one you should arguably clean the most often and the most thoroughly. While it certainly isn’t the most riveting way to spend an evening, if you blast some tunes or even rope someone in to help you, it can be done in no time at all.
What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Fridge?
Not cleaning your fridge can quite literally make you sick. Anything from a slight stomach upset to full-blow food poisoning can occur if your fridge is not regularly cleaned.
The simple truth is that food-borne illnesses are caused by dirty refrigerators. If you let dirt and debris accumulate in there for too long, your fridge can become a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, including E. coli, listeria and salmonella.
When we pile up fresh vegetables or fruits on top of old ones, they start to spoil, and the longer they are left to decompose, the more germs will start to grow on and around them. Dairy products and meat are even more dangerous, and can seriously damage your health if you don’t throw them out on time, and allow spoiled items to cross-contaminate fresher products in your fridge.
Even something as seemingly harmless as a ketchup stain can become the home to the kinds of bacteria you definitely don’t want to ingest. Simply by making sure the fridge is regularly cleaned, you can ensure you and the members of your household stay healthy.
Should You Unplug Your Refrigerator When Cleaning?
You don’t need to unplug the fridge when cleaning it on the inside. If you are cleaning the coils too, the fridge should be unplugged.
However, if your fridge shelves aren’t removable, and if you want to give them a proper scrub, you may want to unplug it to save on the energy bill. Using warm water inside a cold fridge won’t damage it, but keeping the door open for a long time does mean it will need to use more power to get the temperature down again.
If you are conscientious about keeping the door closed while cleaning your removable drawers and shelves, and if you take all the food out in one go, sort it out on the kitchen counters, and load it back again in one fell swoop, the fridge can stay plugged in while you clean it without a hitch.
How Often Do I Need to Disinfect My Fridge?
You should disinfect your fridge every 3-4 months, to ensure it stays clean, fresh and safe.
If you have adopted our fridge cleaning schedule, you can disinfect your fridge after you have given it a deep clean. This will ensure that any bacteria that may have managed to survive your cleaning efforts are eliminated, and your fridge will be as good as new once again.
Remember that you only want to use a disinfectant that is also safe for humans, as you don’t want any of it to make you sick. Avoid using bleach, even though it’s often hailed as a good option. Try white vinegar instead. Although not as effective, it should do a good job, especially if you have been cleaning your fridge regularly, and if nothing has had time to grow in there for a long time.
Wrapping It Up
Cleaning your fridge doesn’t have to be the dreaded chore you are currently envisaging. In fact, if you manage to summon the willpower to tackle each stain as soon as it happens, and do a weekly food purge and a 3-month deep clean, your fridge will keep looking (and smelling) like new for a long time to come.