When we clean our home, the last thing we think about is our refrigerator. It’s hidden, and there’s typically food in it at all times, making it hard to take the time to empty it for cleaning.

What many of us may not know is that bacteria can linger in there from things leaking or spilling. There are also temperature zones within the fridge where bacteria can grow faster than others. Areas such as the doors that are exposed to warmer temperatures when opened are more prone to bacteria growth. This means it’s important to consider when to clean it out and make sure the items inside are not making you sick.

So, how often should you clean out your fridge? At least every 3-4 months. This is a great timeframe to take a look at any spoiled food, ensure your items are stored properly, and, of course, wipe it down and clean it from top to bottom. A great way to remember this is to keep a card inside the fridge with a reminder or mark it on a large calendar. You don’t want to suddenly remember one day that the last time you cleaned out your fridge was a year ago!

A few things to know when cleaning your fridge:

  • Ask someone for help! This is not an easy task and can be much easier with a second pair of hands
  • Make sure you take every single item out and put it in a cooler
  • Remove the drawers so they can be cleaned in the sink with soap and water
  • Take a look at expiration dates and throw away items as needed
  • Wipe down every surface possible and ensure it is dry after

When you place your items back in the fridge, make sure they are stored properly with tightly sealed containers for items that you do not want leaking or touching other items. Meats should be stored separately from any other types of food and vegetables should go inside the crisper area. If possible, keep dairy items away from the doors as those hit warmer air much more often than other areas of the fridge. The least perishable items like condiments should be stored around the door area.