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The Horrifying Task of Cleaning Your Apartment Refrigerator

Published on June 13th, 2012
By Jennifer Oppriecht

Nothing sends chills up a renter’s spine like cleaning your apartment refrigerator.  From the toxic green stuff you’ve been ignoring in the far recesses of the first shelf, to the curdled remains in the carton of milk, the refrigerator can be home to some horrifying things.

Smarter Renter to the rescue.  This six-step method, which can be performed without a hazmat suit, will help you clean out the fridge.

Step 1:  Prepare for battle.  Don’t go to a gunfight carrying a knife.  Arm yourself with a sponge, paper towels, and a multi-surface cleaner.  You’re going to be doing some hardcore in-tight scrubbing, so pack an old toothbrush – the ultimate scrubbing warrior.  Vinegar can also work as a non-toxic, natural cleaning agent.

Step 2:  Evacuate the premises.  I’m talking about the fridge here, not your apartment (unless you really do have some toxic green stuff and curdled milk.)  Empty the contents of the refrigerator, and store them temporarily in a cooler.

Step 3:  Wipe out. After you’ve removed all the shelves and drawers, wipe down the surfaces and walls of the fridge.  Work that toothbrush around the rubber door seals.  If you’ve got some caked on stuff that looks like got spilled into the fridge back in the 1900s, spray it down and then wipe it when the crud has loosened up.  When this is done and you’ve wiped the drawers clean, reassemble.

Step 4:  Discard anything beyond the expiration date or that you don’t use.  Expiration dates are a good barometer for spoiled food – that’s why they publish them.  (It reminds me of a Jerry Seinfeld line:  “Why do they put an expiration date on sour cream?”)  You may also want to get rid of the condiments that are sitting on the shelf that you haven’t use in years.  Just because you’re on the 5-year plan doesn’t mean your food items should be.

Step 5:  Get organized.  The biggest culprit behind spoiled foods is being unorganized.  If you have food items that are scattered all over the fridge, you may lose track of them.  Keep the veggies together, the milks and juices together, etc.  It may sound silly, but it works.

A couple other important things to keep in mind, moving forward:

  • On a seasonal basis, check the drip pan (which collects condensation at the bottom of the refrigerator) and vacuum the refrigerator coils for energy efficiency.  This type of maintenance is dependent on the type of refrigerator you own, so check with your landlord.
  • Wipe up spills right when they happen and chuck old food items on a weekly basis.  If you stay ahead of the game, you won’t need to clean your refrigerator as frequently.
  • Add a box of baking soda to eliminate odors.

Good luck on your cleaning, and good riddance to the tupperware full of green gunk on the bottom shelf!

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