A well-organized refrigerator helps reduce food waste and save money. You should aim to deep clean your refrigerator every three to four months. Follow these steps to clean and organize your refrigerator:
Remove everything. Throw out food that has spoiled or expired and leftovers more than four days old.
Put perishables, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, and eggs, in a cooler with ice or ice packs to keep cold while cleaning the refrigerator.
Wash all shelves, drawers, and walls with hot soapy water. Rinse with clean, hot water and let air dry. Replace drawers and shelves once they are dry.
Make sure the refrigerator temperature is 40ºF or below, so your food is safe to eat.
Group similar foods together as you put them back in the refrigerator. Label and date all foods.
Crisper drawers: Keep fruits and vegetables.
Deli drawers: Store deli meats and cheeses.
Lowest shelf: Place raw meats on a plate, so they do not drip onto other foods.
Back of refrigerator: Keep milk and eggs, so they stay cold.
Door: Store sauces and condiments.
Once a year, clean the back and bottom of the fridge. This helps it to operate efficiently.
When in doubt, throw it out! To keep your family safe, keep leftovers for only three to four days in the refrigerator. Label condiments with the date you open them. Below is a list of how long they can last.
This is a good reminder to either eat or freeze Thanksgiving leftovers within three to four days. To handle leftovers safely, use the following guidelines:
Refrigerate food within two hours after cooking to keep it safe.
Eat or freeze leftovers within four days.
Use labels or masking tape and a black marker to write dates on food for the refrigerator or freezer. If you label leftovers in the refrigerator with the four-day-later date, you will see right away the last day you can safely eat them.
Use Food Safety Charts, www.foodsafety.gov, to learn how long food can be safely stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Learn more about leftover food, www.fsis.usda.gov.
When preparing any fresh produce, start with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation. Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and/or eating. This includes produce grown at home, purchased from a grocery store, or bought at a farmers’ market.
Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is not needed. It is important to wash the surface of the produce, even if you do not plan to eat the skin. Dirt and bacteria can be transferred from the surface when peeling or cutting produce. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. After washing, dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.
Many precut, bagged, or packaged produce items are prewashed and ready to eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging and you can use the produce without further washing.
Cut away any damaged, discolored, or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating.
Make sure all cutting boards and knives used to cut fresh produce are washed in soapy water and rinsed before using again.
With spring cleaning right around the corner, it’s important to prioritize what needs cleaning in our homes. According to the National Sanitation Foundation, the kitchen is the dirtiest place in the household. This place where meals and snacks are prepared and served daily tends to have the most germs. The “germiest” area in the kitchen as well as the second “germiest” item in the household is the sink. This spring, clean everything and the kitchen sink to reduce germs in your home. Wash and sanitize the sides and bottom of the sink once or twice a week with disinfecting cleaner or in a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon water. Clean kitchen drains and disposals every month by pouring a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach to 1 quart water down them.