Spring clean your refrigerator

Clean out your refrigerator to keep your food safe.

Spring’s arrival can inspire us to clean and air out our homes but we can often forget to tackle the refrigerator too. Spills from food can accumulate on shelves and racks providing places for bacteria and mold to stay alive and even grow. Listeria is one such bacteria that can grow and spread in your refrigerator. Listeria can cause serious illness, particularly in pregnant women, older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. 

The first step when cleaning your fridge is to take everything out of the refrigerator. Throw away anything that is passed its “use by date” as well as leftovers that are older than three or four days.  As you remove items from the refrigerator, store the foods you are keeping in a cooler with ice until you are ready to put them back in the refrigerator.

If you are unsure about how long a food can safely be stored in the refrigerator, check the FoodKeeper, an online app with food storage guidelines. 

Next, wash the interior from top to bottom with a mild soap and water solution. Rinse and allow it to dry. Do not use abrasive or corrosive cleaners unless your manufacturer’s recommendations include them. 

Organize your food as you replace it in the refrigerator. Put like ingredients together to make it easy to locate foods as you need them. Michigan State University Extension recommends using a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature of your refrigerator after cleaning it and allowing it to cool down. The temperature should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

After your refrigerator has been cleaned, wipe-up any spilled foods or liquid immediately as the spills occur during normal use. 

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