Whether or not you want to believe it, your fridge could be a breeding ground for bacteria and foodborne illness. In fact, cross-contamination and bacterial growth in the most important region of your kitchen is a major problem and should be a serious concern. Just think about it: nearly everything you eat comes out of the fridge, and if your fridge isn’t in a healthy state, neither is your food. How can you live a healthy lifestyle if your food isn’t healthy?
But it’s not just about keeping your fridge clean; you can also organize it to prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illness. Here is a simple guide for what you need to know to keep your fridge clean, your food pure, and your health on track.
How to Properly Clean Your Fridge
It’s best practice to start by giving your fridge a cleaning once per week. If that’s not practical, keep a close eye on it and do it when you see fit. Having said that, your minimum should be at least once per month. When you clean it, remove everything. Check the expiry and best before dates and discard anything that has turned bad, smells funny, or hasn’t been used in a while. Lastly, when in doubt, throw it out!
Remove any racks, shelves, and drawers. Scrub down all surfaces using an antibacterial soap and then go over it all with warm, soapy water. If they aren’t removable, wash them inside the fridge using a spray bottle with antibacterial soap and a cloth. Rinse it out with a bucket of soapy water and a cloth or scrub brush. Make sure you get all the gunk, dried veggies, sticky spills, and everything out of there. You want to be able to eat off those surfaces!
- Before you start cleaning out your fridge, unplug it. This will ensure you don’t waste power when the doors are open.
- If you can’t unplug it, make sure you close the doors in between scrubs to save power.
- Once you’re done scrubbing, plug your fridge back in.
Now it’s time to start organizing!
Organizing Your Food for Better Health
Organization is extremely important to prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses, so pay careful attention to where you put each item. It should also be mentioned that refrigerators aren’t constructed with your health in mind, so you might have to disregard any included egg trays, or use drawers in a different manner than you might think or your refrigerator guide suggests.
You want to arrange your food from top to bottom, based on the temperature it needs to cook, from low to high. Therefore, your top shelf should feature items like fruits, vegetables, and cooked leftovers. At the bottom, you want things like raw meat. This is because it eliminates spillage that can cause contamination. If raw chicken juice unknowingly spills onto your blueberries and you eat them, you could find yourself quite ill!
- When adding new vegetables to your shelves, be sure to rotate any leftovers to the front so everything gets eaten up before it goes bad.
Many refrigerators have egg trays in the door, but you don’t want to keep eggs anywhere near there. Eggs should be kept in their original packaging and stored deep inside your fridge, where it is coldest. The same goes for milk. The doors are the warmest part of the fridge and should be used for condiments only.
- Organize your condiments by type in door shelves.
- If you have dividers, use this to your advantage.
- If you prefer, you can easy organize each section by best before date.
This way the older sauces will be easily visible, making it more likely that you’ll use the older bottles first to prevent waste.
Now what about the drawers? Drawers are usually in the middle or bottom of the fridge, and often come with humidity controls for fruits and veggies. If this is the case, use one drawer for fruits and veggies and the other drawer, if there are two, for meat.
- If there is only one drawer and you don’t want to use it for meat, put raw meat in a clear plastic bin on the lowest shelf, above the drawer used for veggies.
Your health starts with your diet, and the quality of the food you put into your body is only as good as where it comes from. If your refrigerator is filled with bacteria and organized dangerously, you stand to get hurt. Take action: clean up, get organized, and get healthy!