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How often should you clean your fridge? Here's the answer

Mark your calendar and give your fridge some love.


A clean fridge is a safe fridge.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Cleaning the fridge is a dreaded task, but it needs to be spotless since it's storing your food, right? Of course. So how often does it need to be cleaned to meet these standards? Well, it depends how deep a clean we're talking about.

Do the swipe and protect daily

A good rule of thumb is to be diligent every day to prevent cross contamination and just ickiness in general. Wipe up any spills that occur right away with a cloth moistened with food-safe antibacterial spray.

Also, be sure that you never put raw meat in the fridge in packaging that could leak fluids. Throw it in a sealable storage bag or container until you get around to cooking it, the US government recommends.

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Purge weekly

Once a week, grab leftovers and have a toss day. Don't let old food get to the point where it's growing. Mold spores can spread to fresh foods. According to the US Department of Agriculture, some food molds can cause allergic reactions or respiratory problems. Some can even be toxic. 

If you have trouble remembering how old something is, write down the date and the food on a dry erase board everytime you put something new in the fridge. While you're at it, wipe down shelves, the seals on the door and the veggie bins.

Deep clean seasonally

At the start of each new season, resolve to give your fridge a deep clean. Here's how:

  1. Remove everything from the fridge and put perishables in a cooler with some ice.
  2. Take a look at all of your condiments and toss them if they're past the "use by" date.
  3. Remove the meat and vegetable drawers. Soak them in a bathtub or sink full of warm sudsy water.
  4. While the drawers are soaking, wipe down the inside of the fridge, the door panels, the top of the fridge and the seals. Make a good cleaning solution with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 quart (about 1 liter) of hot water.
  5. Rinse everything you wiped down with a wet, clean cloth.
  6. Rinse the vegetable and meat drawers with warm water, dry them and put them back into the fridge.

Change the water filter every six months

If you have an ice maker, then you probably have a water filter inside of your fridge. Consumer Reports recommends taking a look at the manual to find out where it is and how often it needs to be replaced. Many need to be changed out every six months or so.