Belated Spring Cleaning

Since I'm officially on break from school, I can finally get around to tasks that are important but always seem to fall behind the dishwashing, bed making, and floor cleaning. The phrase, better late than never, does exist for a reason though!

Time to tackle the fridge, freezer, and pantry my friends!

  • Take absolutely everything out of the fridge. Since food safety is a concern, don't treat this like a leisurely activity because you want to get the food back into the fridge as quickly as possible. It is strongly advised that you put all of the items into a cooler because the next step is to clean the fridge and despite ones best attempts, takes some time to do. 
  • Clean the inside of the refrigerator. There are many ways to take care of the unsightly spills and disagreeable odors. 
    • The Reader's Digest has a list of great tips to cleaning and deodorizing your refrigerator:

Baking Soda
To get rid of smells and dried-up spills inside your refrigerator, remove the contents, then sprinkle some baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub the sides, shelves, and compartments. Rinse with a clean, wet sponge. Don’t forget to place a fresh box of soda inside when you’re done.
Cotton Balls
Sometimes the refrigerator just doesn’t smell fresh. Dampen a cotton ball with vanilla extract and place it on a shelf. You’ll find it acts as a deodorizer, offering its own pleasant scent.
Remove refrigerator odors with ease. Dab lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours. Make sure to toss out any malodorous items that might be causing the bad smell.
Plastic Lids
Drippy bottles and containers with leaks can create a big mess on your refrigerator shelves. Create coasters from plastic lids to keep things clean. Place the lids under food containers to stop any potential leaks. If they get dirty, throw them in the dishwasher, while your fridge shelves stay free of a sticky mess.
You’ve removed all the food and the racks from the fridge. Now mix up a handful of salt in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) or so of warm water and use it with a sponge to clean the inside of the refrigerator. The mixture isn’t abrasive, so it won’t scratch surfaces. And you won’t be introducing chemical fumes or odors.
Tomato Juice
Did a power failure cause the food to spoil and become malodorous in your fridge? Get rid of spoiled-food smells in your refrigerator and freezer with the help of some tomato juice. After disposing of the bad food that caused the smell, thoroughly wipe the insides of the fridge and freezer with a sponge or washcloth doused in undiluted tomato juice. Rinse with warm, soapy water and wipe dry. If traces of the smell remain, repeat the procedure or substitute vinegar for the tomato juice.
Vanilla Extract
Having trouble getting rid of that bad odor in your refrigerator, even after scrubbing it out? Wipe down the inside of the fridge with vanilla extract. To prolong the fresh vanilla scent, soak a cotton ball or a piece of sponge with vanilla extract and leave it in the refrigerator.
Did you know that vinegar might be an even more effective safe cleanser for your refrigerator than baking soda? Use equal parts white vinegar and water to wash both the interior and exterior of your fridge, including the door gasket and the fronts of the vegetable and fruit bins. To prevent mildew growth, wash the inside walls and bin interiors with some full-strength vinegar on a cloth. Also use undiluted vinegar to wipe off accumulated dust and grime on top of your refrigerator. Of course, you’ll still want to put that box of baking soda inside your refrigerator to keep it smelling clean when you’re done.

    • This is the method that I used. It worked wonderfully! I only had 3/4 of a cup of vinegar so I added 3/4 of a cup of water. I didn't think this would be enough for the entire fridge but it was. The only downside is that there is a faint smell of vinegar that I get a whiff of every time I open the refrigerator. I left a box of baking soda so hopefully it will be gone by tomorrow.  

When soap and water can’t get rid of old bits of food stuck in and around your refrigerator, it’s time to reach for the WD-40. After clearing all foodstuffs from the areas to be treated, spray a small amount of WD-40 on each resistant spot. Then wipe them away with a rag or sponge. Make sure you wash off all the WD-40 before returning food to the fridge.
  • Check expiration dates and use-by dates of all items. Toss anything that is out of date, smells funny, or looks odd (Moldy slices of bread, mushy/slimy salad greens, etc.). 
    • To my surprise, I only had to toss a bag of baby carrots. I also noticed that my turkey bologna is 3 days away from it's toss date....I guess I know what I'll be eating for lunch tomorrow!
  • Don't just take a mental note, JOT DOWN items that need to be purchased. This is a great time to create that shopping list and see which foods need to be used up first. Doing this will help you plan tonights dinner more wisely. 
  • Toss mystery items. If you don't remember what something is then get rid of it because it probably won't come to you. 
  • Get rid of food that has been in the freezer for months on end. Not because it has suddenly become unsafe to eat but because the quality of the food begins to suffer at a certain point. Here's a guide provided by the Food Safety and Inspection Service:
Bacon and Sausage1 to 2
Casseroles2 to 3
Egg whites or egg substitutes12
Frozen Dinners and Entrees3 to 4
Gravy, meat or poultry2 to 3
Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats1 to 2
Meat, uncooked roasts4 to 12
Meat, uncooked steaks or chops4 to 12
Meat, uncooked ground3 to 4
Meat, cooked2 to 3
Poultry, uncooked whole12
Poultry, uncooked parts9
Poultry, uncooked giblets3 to 4
Poultry, cooked4
Soups and Stews2 to 3
Wild game, uncooked8 to 12
  • Add items to your shopping list. Frozen veggies, for instance, are a great item and a time saver since they are peeled and chopped for your convenience. 
  • Remove everything off the shelves. 
  • Clean the shelves to get rid of crumbs and dust.
  • Check expirations dates. You know the drill!
  • To make life easier, organize your pantry items by categories. Keep pasta and sauces together. Breakfast items like cereals and grains together, etc. 
  • Add on to that shopping list of yours!   

I usually like to do this over the course of two days. Fridge and freezer on day one and pantry day two. This isn't easy but it's necessary. I always find myself shopping in my own refrigerator because I forget that I even have certain things. Sometimes I'm lucky and the items are fresh and other times not so much.

Hopefully, when all this is over and done with the kitchen will look something like this:

I can never get it to look this great, but these pictures are my sources of inspiration. 

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