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How-To: Clean Out Your Refrigerator

Another year, another resolution. It's hard to eat healthy when your refrigerator is stocked with temptation. And it's hard to get off on the right foot with any resolution when your home base is a mess. So, it's time that we all get a fresh start this year with a clean fridge. You may think that the task only requires a dose of motivation, but there's a method to this cleanliness, and I'm going to enlighten you with it. To learn the steps to a cleaner new year,


  1. To begin, clean your kitchen counter and sink and remove everything from your countertops.
  2. Take out your trash, and put a fresh bag in your garbage can.
  3. Put any dirty dishes in the dishwasher and turn it on, or wash them by hand. Unload your dishes and put them where they belong: out of sight!
  4. Turn off your refrigerator and unplug it.
  5. Now, on to the real work. Begin with your freezer. If you have an ice maker, toss all your ice and wash the ice bin by hand. If you have ice trays, toss the ice and put your trays in the dishwasher. If you have neither, get yourself some ice trays!
  6. Toss everything in your freezer except unopened boxes of frozen food. If you haven't eaten your frozen leftovers by now, you never will. If you have curbside composting with your garbage service, you can compost your food and even paper towels, instead of throwing it all in the trash. If you have a backyard compost pile, only place fruits and veggie-based foods in it.
  7. Put the keepers on your kitchen counter.
  8. On to the fridge. Work your way down starting from the top shelf and toss all of your leftovers. Rinse all your Tupperware and other storage containers and put them in the dishwasher.
  9. Turn your dishwasher on.
  10. One shelf at a time, pull every food product out of your fridge, tossing or composting it if it's expired or the sell by date isn't within the last two weeks. Put the keepers on your kitchen counter.
  11. Apply the last two steps to the refrigerator door and any bins you have in your fridge.
  12. Fill your sink with water and a good dose of dishwashing liquid.
  13. Soak each refrigerator shelf in your sink for a delicate few one at a time. Scrub it well with a sponge. Shake dry. Spray it with glass cleaner, wipe, and let dry. Continue with each shelf. And remember, you can also clean with vinegar.
  14. Spray the interior walls of your refrigerator and freezer and their doors with Clorox Greenworks and scrub your heart out.
  15. Now, clean your vegetable bins by soaking and sponging them, and then spraying them with your Greenworks as well. Let dry.
  16. Now, replace the shelves and bins.
  17. Replace your food to your fridge and freezer, keeping them organized with some system.
  18. Remove your ice trays from your dishwasher, fill them, and place them in the freezer.
  19. Unload the rest of your dishwasher.
  20. Make a list of what to buy now that I've made you toss everything.
  21. Remove the Christmas cards from your fridge and store them. Toss or store any other paperwork on your fridge. Start fresh with a paper-free fridge, just magnets!
  22. Wipe down the exterior of your fridge.
  23. Now, have a glass of wine and relax.


Join The Conversation
Sara-Rose Sara-Rose 8 years
I thought my weekly purge and toss and monthly total clean of the fridge was deep cleaning, but man, this is totally intense. I feel like a slacker!
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 8 years
wow! I clean my fridge out but I never get that into it lol. Not unplugging it and removing every single thing lol. I usually just toss out the old, move stuff one shelf to another, wipe down the empty shelf with a clorox wipe, and work my way down to the drawers. I do take the drawers out and wash them in the sink.
emalove emalove 8 years
I need to do a thorough cleaning like this.
Stupidasscat Stupidasscat 8 years
I also place a paper towel inside the door bins to collect any spills helps to make clean-up easier i also put one at the bottom of the drawers in case I forget any veggies and they get gross I can toss the soggy paper towels along with it. it really does help witht he clean-up.
nbarbier nbarbier 8 years
I don't think I've ever washed my veggie bins...ever. lol... I never thought of it, I'm sure they're pretty nasty if I ever took the time to actually look in them closely. Ick. Must go home and clean fridge, NOW!
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Wow that is very in depth. I cleaned mine last week but not this hardcore.
shannon625 shannon625 8 years
You put Christmas cards on your fride? Huh--for some reason I've never seen anyone do that.
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
When we moved in Dec and went from a tiny fridge to a Huge awesome fridge I did a massive purge/clean. It was funny b/c my old fridge was totally full and this new huge fridge was really bare. but it was nice to just get rid of all that old stuff, any sticky condiments, random things I never ate etc
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