Spring has sprung, and along with the nice weather and chirping birds comes… SPRING CLEANING!  Those two words likely conjure up images of dust bunnies and furniture polish; however, it’s important to take time to spring clean the refrigerator, too.  Many people use and appreciate the fridge, but it often gets overlooked when it comes to getting clean and tidy.

The refrigerator plays a very important role in keeping food safe, so it’s all the more important to keep the fridge clean and ensure it’s at the right temperature.

•    For maximum safety keep your fridge at or below 40 degrees.

•    Wipe up any spills immediately and clean the area thoroughly with hot, soapy water.  Then rinse it.

•    Once a week, throw away perishable foods that should no longer be eaten.  (Leftovers should be kept for no more than four days, and raw poultry or ground meat should be cooked or tossed after two days.)

•    To keep the fridge smelling fresh and eliminate odors, have an open box of baking soda on a shelf.  The box should be replaced every six months.

•    The refrigerator should be deep cleaned twice a year.  Empty the contents and store in a cooler with a cold source of ice packs while you clean the walls and shelves, nooks and crannies of the fridge.  Use warm, soapy water or a cleaning solution as recommended in the manufacturers instructions.

•    To clean the outside of the fridge, including the handle, use a soft cloth and warm, soapy water or cleaning solution.  Also, keep an eye on the front grill to be sure it is free of dust and lint.

The refrigerator stores everything from leftovers to thawed meat to milk and vegetables, and it’s important to place things in the right spot to maximize effectiveness of the fridge and minimize cross contamination.

•    Raw meat, poultry and seafood should be wrapped or sealed in a container and placed on the bottom shelf of the fridge.  Should any juices leak from the meats, they will not drip down on other foods.

•    Because the temperatures in the door may vary as the door is opened and closed, do not store eggs and dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, in the door.

•    Many refrigerators come with special bins for meats and cheeses and fruits and vegetables.  It’s perfectly safe to use these bins, but remember what you have in there.  You can get stickers or use masking tape to note what is in the drawer and when it was purchased.

The refrigerator does a lot to help keep our food safe and often gets overlooked when it comes to cleaning, so this spring as you clean your home, remember to give the fridge some TLC.

For more tips on cleaning your fridge and storing food at the right temperature check out resources from the USDA and Partnership for Food Safety Education.

Spring Cleaning Your Fridge, by Katy Burns, was originally published on the IFIC Nutrition Blog.  Republished with Permission.