Some jobs can be left until the big “end of tenancy cleaning” or “moving house cleaning” (jobs such as dusting the tops of door frames and scrubbing the floor underneath the washing machine). Other jobs can’t be left semi-indefinitely, and cleaning the fridge is one of them. Here’s how:
1 Start by turning the power off at the wall or you will waste oodles of electricity and power as the fridge tries to keep cool with the door wide open for quarter of an hour.
2 Remove all the food and other bits from inside the fridge. Check all of them to make sure that they’re still in the land of the living. Items that are not can have a quick one-way trip into the compost heap.
3 Remove any trays, drawers or racks that can come out. Run a basin full of hot water and dishwashing detergent or soap and put them in to soak as best you can.
4 Arm yourself with your cleaning tools. It’s important to use natural cleaning products that have low toxicity as harsh chemicals can and will contaminate your food. For this reason, it’s also best to avoid using essential oils to clean the fridge, lovely and natural as they are. Few people like lavender-flavoured cheese (although fresh lavender could go quite nicely as a marinade or in a cheese sandwich, but that’s another story…). Baking soda is your best bet, as it doesn’t scratch and absorbs those smells. Use dilute white vinegar as a back-up if you need it. Also provide yourself with a small array of soft cloths, some dipped in fresh water and some left dry. An old toothbrush (not the one that you keep for cleaning the lavatory) will also come in handy.
5 Shake baking soda liberally around the fridge and don’t forget the door. Use one of your wet or damp cloths to scoop up some more baking soda – it will form a paste when wet – and start applying it to the sides and roof.
6 Rub vigorously at all surfaces, starting from the top and working downwards. If one of your cleaning rags starts looking an interesting colour, change it, or else have a handy basin of warm water nearby to rinse it out in.
7 Use a clean damp rag to remove the baking soda paste once you have scrubbed everything.
8 Have a good look around. If any food or other smears still remain, use the dilute vinegar and the old toothbrush to get them off.
9 Use a dry rag to dry everything off.
10 If you have one of those fridges with a drip pan underneath the cooling element, make sure that this is cleared out and that it can drain freely. Pour a little vinegar (full strength, not diluted) into this to deal with any mould. Yes, mould can grow inside a fridge, albeit more slowly than in a warmer spot.
11 Tackle the trays, drawers and racks. Wash these the way that you would wash the dishes, either in the sink or in the dishwasher (in the sink is probably quicker and easier, as the trays are a beast to fit in the dishwasher). Use vodka or some other strong alcohol to wipe down meat drawers or meat trays to kill any bacteria. Rinse and dry everything as normal.
12 Put everything back into the fridge. Start with the racks, etc. first, of course!
13 Keep the milk out and have a cup of tea as a reward for a job well done.