The refrigerator gets the brunt of activity that occurs in a kitchen. Smudges from pasta sauces, puddles of spilled juices and sticky drippings from slippery meat packages end up on the hulking appliance's surfaces, both inside and out.
The best way to clean a fridge on the inside is with organic and environmentally-friendly cleaners that won't leave a chemical scent behind that can affect the fresh food that is stored in the appliance. There are a few fridge cleaning hacks that can quickly remove all the sticky stuff that finds its way onto the drawers, shelving, handles and sides of the refrigerator.
Homemade Anti-Bacterial Cleaner for the Fridge
A good fridge cleaning spray uses rubbing alcohol and vinegar to sterilize and clean the shelving, drawers and walls of the refrigerator. Combine the following in a 32-ounce spray bottle and keep it in a cupboard. Sunlight can breakdown the mix and make it less effective.
A basic recipe for a homemade spray includes 5 ounces of rubbing alcohol, 10 ounces of white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap.
Add all of the above ingredients to the spray bottle and fill with water. Or double the ingredients and omit the water for a strong mix. Wear safety glasses and a breathing mask because the stronger mix can emit fumes that can irritate eyes, nose and throat.
Citric Acid for Cleaning the Fridge
Citrus-based cleaning products are effective and environmentally friendly. The refrigerator can benefit greatly from a good douse of a citrus-based cleaner on a regular basis. You can buy a commercial cleaner with citric acid as its main active ingredient or create your own.
They are ideal for cleaning stuck-on food, but require a bit of elbow grease and patience. The fruits' d-limonene, which is in the terpene family that also includes pine oils and cleaners, is what makes it work so well as a cleaning agent. A good technique is to spray the shelving and drawers with the citrus-based cleaner, then let it sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing or wiping off.
Fill a Mason jar with vinegar two-thirds of the way full, then add used citrus peels to the jar as you use lemons, limes or oranges. Let it sit for a week while you continue to feed citrus peels to the mix. Use 1 part of this citrus-infused vinegar to 1 part water to clean the inside of the refrigerator.
Cleaning Fridge with Bleach
Sometimes, the natural cleaners just won't cut through the grime that has built up in the refrigerator. For seriously dirty appliances with mold creeping up its insides, cleaning the fridge with bleach is highly recommended.
Mix 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of warm water and wipe down the inside of the refrigerator. Use a toothbrush to work the bleach into corners and along the bottom of the refrigerators nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide. Rinse well with water to remove any batches of bleach from the refrigerator so that it doesn't adversely affect the taste of the food placed back in the cavity.
When working with bleach, it's best to wear gloves, protective eyewear and a breathing mask to avoid becoming overwhelmed by fumes and to protect your skin from this corrosive cleaner.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.