How to Keep the Fridge Clean

02_27_09_fridge.jpgSince most of us probably aren't going to go as far as to live without a fridge, we should know how to keep up with ours to make the most of its energy use and to simply live healthier.

We're guilty of letting leftovers become science experiments, but with spring cleaning just around the corner we're going to try to start anew. Jump below for tips on how to clean out the fridge--and keep it that way.

First of all, keeping your refrigerator and freezer properly defrosted (most will do this automatically now, thank goodness!) will help keep it clean AND make sure you're getting all the bang for your buck when it comes to energy usage.

Before starting a deep-clean on the fridge, be sure to turn the temperature control switch OFF. That way you won't be keeping the door open just to make the fridge work harder to cool it down.

Toss compostable items in the appropriate place, and rid yourself of moldy food. Of course, we hope to limit our food waste, so part of living with a clean fridge should be to cook (and eat) more efficiently. We're learning that keeping it varied helps us get the leftovers out of the fridge and into our stomachs rather than the landfill. While cleaning out the fridge, take stock of what you're tossing, and see if you can alter your shopping and/or eating habits to prevent that.

Once you've got all the old stuff out, take stock of your remaining items. If you're going to take them all out to clean the fridge, it's a great chance to organize--that way, what you need will be exactly where you need it... and the door will be open for less time and you'll save energy! Everybody wins.

Now the fun part: clean the shelves. And the sides. And the deli tray, and the produce bins, and the seal... Clean it all. You can remove the wire or plastic shelves and wash by hand with soapy water, but we like to spray it down with vinegar. This will not only clean and disinfect the fridge, but it will also help stop odors in their tracks. If you don't already keep a container of baking soda in the fridge to fight odors, now's a great time to start.

Once it's bright and shiny, turn the temperature back and quickly marvel at your clean refrigerator. And try to keep it that way.