There’s nothing like getting ready to cook dinner and opening your refrigerator to find it an utter disaster. Crumbs, mold, and mysterious stains galore are the last things you want to see when it’s time to whip up some food in the kitchen. Refrigerators can harbor bacteria, molds, and stains if not maintained properly. A dirty refrigerator can negatively affect the taste of your food and make you ill, so it’s important to clean out your refrigerator regularly to keep your family safe from illness-causing bacteria. According to experts, here are some guidelines on how often you should clean out your refrigerator to maintain food safety and freshness!
Go Through Once Every 3–4 Weeks
Many of us open our fridge to find spoiled food, leftovers that have turned an unappetizing color, and items we forgot about. A clean refrigerator not only makes it easier to find things when you need them, but it can also help prevent food-borne illnesses like listeria.
Toss Condiments After 1–2 Months
If it’s been sitting around for longer than that, it’s likely past its prime—even if you’ve never opened it. While you can refrigerate opened condiments indefinitely, the quality of unopened condiments deteriorates with time. Buy smaller containers (e.g., ketchup packets) or use small freezer bags so that only what you need for a recipe remains in your fridge at any given time.
Store Eggs Outside the Fridge
The egg tray in your refrigerator door has just one purpose in life—to keep your eggs safe and fresh, right? Wrong. Most refrigerators produce harmful gases that can make eggs spoil faster. To maintain egg freshness longer, store them outside of your fridge! Just keep them out of sunlight and away from other food items so they don’t pick up their flavors. If you're really concerned about spoiling eggs, you can also add a teaspoon of salt to the water before boiling the eggs to increase their shelf life by an extra day or two.
Don’t Forget About Cheese
While meat and produce both need to be rotated through weekly, it’s important not to forget about your dairy products. Milk can last up to seven days after opening, but sour cream and cottage cheese can spoil in as little as three. To keep your fridge running smoothly, make sure you’re paying attention to these types of products too.
Create Schedules for Vegetables and Fruit
By planning out your produce purchases and ensuring that you’re following them, you’ll make sure that you always have access to fresh foods. To keep your refrigerator organized, create schedules for how often you should clean it out. Keep in mind that meats need to be cooked or frozen within three days; vegetables and fruit can last up to seven days if they’re properly stored.
Eat Leftovers Before They Go Bad
With so many people working late or not being home for dinner, it’s easy to get in a habit of throwing away leftovers. Leftovers may seem like they won’t be good after sitting around in your fridge overnight, but as long as you heat them up thoroughly and don’t add too much extra sauce, they can still taste delicious.
The tips above are just some of the effective ways to maintain your refrigerator. In addition to them, don't forget to regularly wipe down the shelves using a Lola® Jumbo Microfiber Cleaning Cloth with hot soapy water or some lemon juice mixed with salt or baking soda. Give the inside of the door a good scrubbing as well. This will keep smells from building up in your fridge!