Due to the volume of requests for email notifications, I created a newsletter to which you can subscribe: tinyletter.com/joliekerr. Emails will be mostly about new columns and Year of the Clean Person updates, with a few odds & ends tossed in. Oh and book news! Of course there will be those!
To get you on your way — because what day could be more exciting than this one??? — here are the basics of cleaning out a refrigerator, Clean Person-style.
What do you recommend using to clean out a refrigerator? Also can you help with my fridge & freezer organization issues? I need a plan that I can stick to.
In the same way that white vinegar is tops for freezers, it’s the best thing for the fridge, too. In addition to having paper towels/sponges/rags on you, when it comes to the fridge you might also want to pick up a Dobie Pad. Refrigerators often house more sticky spills and splatters and God only knows what else than freezers do, and the Dobie Pad will help you sgrunge things off the walls without scratching up the plastic.
With our tools in hand it’s time to take everything out!
Have a trash bag or garbage pail near by and throw away anything suspect before you even start cleaning. Set items you’re keeping on the countertops and/or in a cooler. If you have foodstuffs covered in plastic wrap or tin foil use it to protect your hand while you scoop old food into the trashcan. (That’s a nifty little trick from me to those of you with tactile squick issues.) Alternatively: Wear rubber gloves.
Once everything is out, the next step is to remove the shelves and drawers and wash them with hot soapy water in the sink or tub. Probably the tub is better because it gives you more room for what are fairly awkwardly shaped items. Also it frees up the sink so that you can fill it up with hot soapy water and put any storage containers, pots, pans, jars, other things I probably don’t want to know about, pitchers, etc. right in to soak.
Now you’ll turn your attention to the interior of the fridge. Spray with white vinegar solution, wipe down with your Dobie Pad, get after any stains with a Magic Eraser if necessary, and that’s sort of it. Depending on how gross things are this might take some elbow grease, so don’t be surprised if my easy-sounding instructions end up being more work than you anticipated.
Now the fun part: putting everything back in! First you’ll want to survey your foodstuffs and group things together. Wipe sticky bottles, tighten lids, snap Tupperware tops back in place, tell your Tabasco sauce how nice its new haircut looks. Tend to your things. Then put everything back in a way that makes sense to you. Some ideas! Try to keep labels facing out so you can easily distinguish similar-looking items from one another. Put things you don’t use often toward the back of the unit. Put taller items behind shorter ones. Make a note of things you have duplicates of and, um, stop buying those things. Put raw meat and eggs on the bottom shelf so if there’s a leak it doesn’t contaminate your other food. (At the risk of being hollered at for the wasteful use of plastic, I usually grab a produce bag and put meat in it while doing my grocery shopping. Then it goes in the fridge all wrapped up.) Try not to put temperature-sensitive items like milk in the door if you can help it; the regular opening of the door will mess with its happiness level.
OK now look at where your things are. From now on that’s where those things go. When you come home from the market the milk should go in the same place it was before. Doing so will create a habit that helps to keep things organized. In terms of keeping things clean, every time you take out your trash, open your refrigerator and throw away any old food. This should be part of your taking out the trash routine. Remember your routine? Raise your hand if you’re still following your routine!! Hurrah! Gold stars all around!
Republishing these in honor of National Clean Out Your Fridge Day 2013! (I noted on Twitter that because I’m a benevolent Clean Person I’m officially extending the holiday through the weekend.)(I don’t really have the power to do that, but we can pretend!)
Hey gang! I’m putting together a primer on post-Hallowe’en clean up. The topics I’ve picked out so far include: glitter, wings/feathers, blood (fake and real), pumpkin, chocolate, face paint and vomit. But I know you’ve got ideas for me so …:
What kinds of messes are you anticipating making this year? What messes have you made in the past? What are you going as? What’s the best kind of Hallowe’en candy?
I picked this stuff up the other day to use on a persistently mildewed shower curtain liner (that has now, blessedly, ripped which means I can justify buying a new one).
It was okay on the liner, but a ton of soap scum remained. It was, however, an absolute miracle worker on the tile & grout shower walls. No scrubbing! Just like they promised! It also stunk to high heaven. A++ WOULD BUY AGAIN.
Fantastic article about the lengths (haaaaaa!) women go to to clean their saris. I’ll be wearing my mother’s 40-year-old wedding sari at our rehearsal dinner this Fall, and have already made note of the methods for home and professional cleaning mentioned within.
Oh and dear God the jar of pickle that opened up in a suitcase is the thing of nightmares, truly.