Your fridge can be quite the puzzle when you're trying to figure out where that certain stench comes from or which part of it you should start cleaning. But don't you worry, as you've come to the right place. Here are some ways you can deep clean your refrigerator in the best way possible.
1. Know which cleaning materials you'll be using
One of the most effective products for cleaning tough stains is baking soda. You can either mix it with lemons, vinegar, or water and leave it for some time on a stained surface or wall in your fridge. Meanwhile, it can also be used in removing the stubborn stench in your fridge. Just trace where the smell comes from and sprinkle some baking soda there.
The stinky part of your fridge is usually in the fruits and vegetables area or the freezer. This is due to your perishable goods that have probably gone bad — stale fruits and vegetables or dried blood from the frozen meat or fish you stock there. As much as possible, check the items in your fridge from time to time to prevent the horrible smell from coming back.
2. Find a place where you'll place your food and drinks temporarily
Be it a minibar or just a table, make sure that you have a temporary place for all that's in your fridge. If you think you'll be cleaning for a long time, then make use of your older fridge or at least put your frozen items in a cooler, as well as easily expiring goods. But if your fridge is just small, then it would be mostly alright to leave your food and drinks on a table that's not made of sensitive materials.
The best way to go about this is planning ahead – don't just take out all the items in your fridge because of a random urge to clean it. Assign a particular day for this because your housemates might be needing to keep their ice cream frozen or their sandwich spreads refrigerated, and their food items can go to waste if you take them out of the fridge for too long.
3. Unplug and defrost your refrigerator
You can't deep clean your fridge if it's turned on, so unplug it. Aside from wasting electricity, the ice that accumulates in your freezer and the coldness of the surfaces can all negatively affect the effectiveness of your cleaning products and techniques. Make it a point to scrape off the ice after letting some of it melt first.
Additionally, put a thick rug beneath the fridge so all the water that drips from the freezer doesn't ruin your floor or cause you to slip eventually. Meanwhile, it's normal for the fridge to smell a bit weird after you clean it, but once you turn it on and you put the items back in, it's going back to normal.
4. Throw away stale or expired food
Keeping your fridge clean means throwing away the things that make it look and smell bad. Any items that have grown mold, sauces that haven't been touched in years, or bread that looks a little too dry for eating can all go. Make sure that every nook and cranny where old onion peels and food scraps are taken away and cleaned thoroughly so the smells don't stay.
To make use of stale or expired food, you can use them as compost especially if you have an area for planting. But even if you don't have a backyard for vegetation, you can always use potted plants. As for expired condiments or drinks, they can just go down the drain if they smell bad already.
But note that sauces, spices, and bread spreads actually have a longer shelf life than chips or fruits mostly because of their sodium content, so you can still use them even after the "best before" date, but just be careful of any weird substances or smells from them — in which case, throw them out.
5. Use soapy water and a microfiber cloth
Sprays of warm, soapy water on a medium piece of microfiber cloth is the perfect way to wipe away drips, spills, and dirt inside your fridge, or even scrub sticker stains away from the surface of your fridge door. But just make sure your rag isn't dripping wet nor dry.
The soapy water that you're using should also have just the right amount of soap – not too much and not too little. You wouldn't want the food in your fridge to smell like your cleaning products, nor would you want the old smells in your fridge to stay there.
Be thorough with the spaces that you wipe with your cloth: the transparent "drawers" that you put your fruits and vegetables in, the main space in the middle of your fridge, the chiller, the freezer, and the side storage where eggs and condiments are typically placed.
Use the same microfiber cloth and wash the soapy water off it to re-wipe your fridge and remove the soap from its corners and surfaces. And when you're done, use another piece of microfiber cloth, but make sure it's dry this time to finish cleaning up your fridge.
6. Wipe the food and drinks you'll be putting back in your fridge
You wouldn't want your sauces, jams, and other condiments dripping back on the sides of your fridge. It's important to properly seal your condiments or wipe off the excesses whenever you use them, so that you don't stain your hands the next time you'll need them for a meal, and you won't have to re-wipe your fridge as well.
7. Be cautious of how you use your fridge everyday
If you use your foot in closing everything – your oven, your drawers, or even your fridge – then either make sure they're clean, or just avoid doing this altogether, especially if you have shoes on. It's harder to clean stains that have stayed for a long time, and if you have a habit of closing your fridge with your foot, that may be the cause of stubborn stains on your fridge door.
Additionally, don't be careless when you put your food and drink items in your fridge. Don't let a day go by without wiping off a drink spill or bits of meat that went to the corners of your freezer. Be cautious and conscious of how you "treat" your refrigerator everyday, so to speak.
It's important to keep in mind that daily maintenance will save you lot of time and money from having your fridge deep cleaned after accumulating months worth of food and drink stains and residues.