How often should you be cleaning your fridge according to a hospitality expert?


You opened your refrigerator to find a snack and a horrible odor greeted you, killing your appetite and reminding you it’s time to do a deep clean of the interior. Most people forget to thoroughly clean their fridge until they find something rotting or a pungent aroma greets them. How often should a refrigerator be cleaned for health and appearance?

Peter Hansen is known for his work with Benchmarc Restaurants, Viceroy Hotels and managing bars, restaurants and hotel openings in New York City and Los Angeles. Mr. Hansen has a few thoughts on setting up a fridge cleaning schedule and avoiding health risks and unpleasant smells. Hansen points out that you should clean the appliance before bad odors set in to avoid inviting mold and bacteria into your food source. Here is a guideline on how often to complete various tasks.

How Often Should a Refrigerator Be Cleaned?

The Food and Drug Administration states foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent foodborne illnesses, such as Listeria. Pay attention to your refrigerator’s interior temperature and make repairs if needed to keep food at a safe level.

If you spill something, clean it up. Leaving things to spread around, get on other food items and fester leads to mold and bacteria. If you notice mold on cheese, fuzzy growth on berries or any other rotten spots, throw out the offending food before it contaminates items around it.

While there is a schedule for certain tasks, you should wipe down the handles and high contact points every day. Since eating a rainbow of nutritious food helps you feel your best, an organized fridge makes it easier to see what fruits and vegetables are available and use them before they go bad. Place items based on what you use most frequently and keep them in their allotted space.

“Consider the items best suited for different sections and drawers based on temperature and humidity levels,” Hansen shares. Items such as strawberries and lettuce may keep longer with lower humidity levels, for example.

Consider the source of the item. For example, buying locally grown foods benefits your family and your wallet but might also introduce new bacteria into your fridge. If you pick up some eggs at the local farmers market, you have no idea what cleaning process the food went through and what temperature the seller kept them at. Part of your cleaning routine should be to thoroughly clean any produce coming into your home, no matter the source.

What You Should be Inspecting Weekly

How frequently do you gather with others for meals? If you often have company, you may need to clean your fridge immediately before and after to make the most of leftovers and avoid food going bad.

Social eating habits are quite different today. Around 62% of people replace at least one meal with a snack. There are many mental and emotional advantages to eating with others, sharing stories and gathering together.

If you plan a weekly family meal, host a birthday or just have friends stop by, you should plan to clean up the fridge inside and out more frequently.

Your regular cleaning schedule should include a thorough scrubbing. “Remove all items from your fridge every other week (checking expiration dates as you go) and give the interior a thorough cleaning. Make sure you pay attention to drawers and shelves where spills often accumulate,” suggests Hansen.

What You Should be Inspecting Monthly

A tidy house centers you and ensures your kitchen is the healthy heart of your home. The fridge is an excellent place to practice ongoing organizational skills and cleanliness as it can cause food poisoning and other unpleasant consequences. A cluttered space can impact your mindset and further impact mental health. 

Clean seals and inspect them for damage. You’ll keep bacteria and mold at bay and can replace any problem areas to ensure the refrigerator maintains a safe temperature for your food.

What You Should be Inspecting Quarterly

The beginning of a new season is an excellent time to pay attention to maintenance you might otherwise overlook. Burn freezer ice every 90 days. Hansen describes the process as, “To burn the ice, turn off the fridge, remove all items, and let the ice melt naturally. Give the freezer a good cleaning, then return all items for a perfectly maintained freezer all year round.”

Pull your refrigerator out from the wall and clean and inspect the coils. Dust, hair and debris can build up on these areas. Looking at them quarterly ensures they work at optimal capacity for longer. 

“A coil brush and a vacuum should be used to clean these areas deep every three months. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent damage,” says Hansen.

What you Should Inspect Yearly

Each year, take the time to reorganize your refrigerator so you can see all the items in it. Adjust shelves, add containers and move things around so the fridge better suits your family’s needs. One method is to remove everything in your refrigerator. You can place perishable items in a cooler with ice for a short period while cleaning. Wipe down every nook and cranny inside the fridge. Replace the shelves and begin organizing your most frequently used items for easy access.

Adopt a First In, First Out (FIFO) Approach

Grocery prices are up in nearly every community. To make the most of your budget and avoid food waste ending up in landfills, practice putting new items in the back and move older items to the front.

A FIFO approach allows you to use up things getting ready to expire and keeps produce fresh and in reach. One thing to note is that items such as soft skin fruits and lettuce expire more quickly than apples, oranges or kiwi. Place the items most likely to go bad in the front so you use them and avoid having to throw out rotten fruit.

So, How Often Should a Refrigerator Be Cleaned?

Every time you interact with your fridge, you should do some type of cleaning. While you don’t have to do a deep clean every day, you should wipe down handles and drawers you frequently open. Stick to whatever cleaning schedule makes the most sense to you and keeps your home healthy and food poisoning free.

Hansen shares cleaning tips because he knows a healthy home is a happy home. Pay attention to the little details to create the heartwarming atmosphere everyone craves.

Next. Why buying locally grown food benefits your family more than you think. Why buying locally grown food benefits your family more than you think. dark