Yeah, You’re Probably Not Cleaning Out Your Fridge Often Enough
This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
You probably clean your stove and microwave frequently, if not daily, because messes are inevitable and spills can be all too visible. But you’re likely overlooking another important kitchen appliance: your fridge.
It’s just as vital to keep your refrigerator clean even if its interior makes it more hidden. After all, the fridge is where you store the food you serve yourself and others, so keeping it clean is the start of safely handling your food and beverages.
Here are some easy and effective tips for cleaning out your fridge — and how often you should be doing these tasks. (You can also read about the best way to clean your blender and how to clean a cast-iron skillet.) Read next: Want That Organized TikTok Fridge Look? Here’s What You’ll Need to Buy
Wipe down refrigerator handles and controls daily
Using a food-safe, antibacterial wipe, take the time to wipe down the handles of your refrigerator each day.
You should wipe down the buttons or controls for water dispensers and ice makers daily too.
Take care of spills immediately
When a mess happens in the fridge, clean it immediately. It’s important to not let spills and messes get out of hand, otherwise your fridge can easily become a hotbed for germs and bacteria. If you have a spill, take a few minutes to wipe it down and make sure that it didn’t spill on and potentially contaminate other food or beverages.
Also, try to prevent accidents by storing your food in airtight, spill-proof containers. A good rule of thumb is that you should spot clean your refrigerator any time a spill happens or you see remnants of food and drink.
Toss expired and old food weekly
At the start of each week, go through the food you have in the refrigerator. Toss old leftovers and anything that’s expired.
Spoiled food can encourage bacteria growth and leave mold spores in your refrigerator, so it’s important to sift through your fridge regularly. Not sure what’s expired? Check each bottle and label for an expiration date.
If you can’t find an expiration date, play it safe and toss anything that you aren’t sure is fresh. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not only throwing out old or recalled foods, but also any foods that are stored next to them or touching them.
Sort through your fridge each week to throw out any expired food or drinks.
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Do a deep fridge clean each quarter
Do a deep cleaning of your refrigerator every three to four months. To keep things simple, you may choose to do a deep clean of your fridge at the start of each season.
To deep clean your refrigerator, you’ll need to completely clear out all the food and put it in a cooler for safekeeping. Many people choose to try to finish most of the big food items in their fridge just before a deep cleaning, so they don’t have to remove and replace a lot of food. Be sure to read your refrigerator’s manual so that you know the best way to clean your appliance.
In most cases, you will unplug the fridge or turn it off first. Then remove and thoroughly clean all the shelves and drawers in hot, soapy water or other cleaner, then replace them. Clean the walls of the fridge and every surface well.
Don’t forget to also clean the door and the interior top of the refrigerator.
Every so often, take everything out of your fridge and give it a deep clean.
Be sure to clean the ice maker and water dispenser
Many refrigerators now come with ice makers and water dispensers. If yours does, it’s important to keep them clean so that you continue to enjoy germ-free ice or water. The ice maker or water dispenser likely comes with a water filter that you’ll need to change regularly.
Most need to be changed every six months or so, according to Consumer Reports, but be sure to read your refrigerator’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.