Did you know that November 15th is National Clean out Your Refrigerator Day? Seems like there is a day for almost everything anymore, but this one does come at a good time! Many of us will soon be filling our refrigerators and freezers with more food than usual as the holidays approach so it is the perfect time to take a good look inside.
The first step may be to decide what is safe to keep or what you should toss. Here is a quiz that might help you get started. Also, Ohio State University Extension provides information on safe refrigerator and freezer storage on Ohioline. Many people do not realize the dangers involved in eating food that has been kept too long or stored in a refrigerator or freezer that is not kept at a safe temperature – under 40⁰ for the refrigerator and under 0⁰ for the freezer.
Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! Never taste food that looks or smells strange. There could be bacteria that are not visible to the human eye, but they could cause food poisoning.
Once you have decided what needs to be thrown out, you can start cleaning!
Follow the steps below to thoroughly clean the refrigerator:
- Remove everything – place perishable food in a cooler while you are working
- Any old or spoiled food should be discarded.
- Take out shelves, drawers, etc. and wash with hot soapy water, rinse, and dry.
- Wipe out the inside of the refrigerator – don’t forget the door seals. Some recommend using a mixture of 2 TBS. baking soda/1 qt. hot water.
- Replace shelves and drawers.
- Wipe off jars and containers as you return them to the refrigerator.
- Check the interior temperature to be sure that it is below 40⁰.
- Dust and wipe the exterior of the refrigerator.
Now that your refrigerator is sparkling clean, make it a habit to wipe up any spills as they occur to keep it fresh and clean. This might be a good time to invest in new refrigerator and freezer thermometers. Keep it in the body of the refrigerator – not on the door.
Get into the habit of storing your food and leftovers properly. Securely wrap foods or store in airtight containers. Check expiration dates on products – remember that once you open them, the expiration date on the item is no longer effective! In that case, follow the safe food storage charts mentioned above.
Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County
Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County