When : Always November 15thClean Out Your Refrigerator Day is today.
What's that in the back of the refrigerator!? I don't want to find out. Don't open it...... the odor may overwhelm you!!! Hold your breath, scrunch your nose if you must, and get to the task.
Everything in your refrigerator was once a fresh, healthy food, ready for your consumption. It may have been a tasty leftover, intended for later enjoyment. Unfortunately, over the course of weeks or more, things get pushed to the back of the refrigerator and slowly transform into something impossible to identify.
We've all run across items in the refrigerator that once were tasty food, But, now, they are some dried out, mold covered nasty, that you remove and dispose of at arms length.
Who wins the prize for the worst refrigerator surprises? Most often, it's workplace refrigerators.
Use this day to clean out your refrigerator, top to bottom. When it comes to food safety, we fall back to the old saying " When in doubt, throw it out!"
Origin of Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day: We found references suggesting that Whirlpool Home Appliances was promoting Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. However, we went to their website and performed a search of it. They make no mention of this day.
Common speculation is that this day was created just in advance of Thanksgiving, to allow room for holiday leftovers.
And here is a little refresher from the FDA on the good and proper method for going from stink to sweet as we mark this auspicious national holiday. Follow the link to the FDA for a print version to add to your Kitchen 411 Binder.
FDA Fact Sheet: Refrigerators and Freezers
Food Safety: Removing Odors from Refrigerators and Freezers
Refrigerators and freezers are two of the most important pieces of equipment in the kitchen for keeping food safe. We are instantly reminded of their importance when the power goes off, flooding occurs, or the unit fails, causing food to become unsafe and spoil. The odors that develop when food spoils can be difficult to remove. Use this information to learn how to remove odors from units or how to safely discard an affected unit.
To Remove Odors from Refrigerators and Freezers
If food has spoiled in a refrigerator or freezer and odors from the food remain, they may be difficult to remove. The following procedures may help but may have to be repeated several times.
If odors remain, try any or all of the following:
- Dispose of any spoiled or questionable food.
- Remove shelves, crispers, and ice trays. Wash them thoroughly with hot water and detergent. Then rinse with a sanitizing solution (1 tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water).
- Wash the interior of the refrigerator and freezer, including the door and gasket, with hot water and baking soda. Rinse with sanitizing solution as above.
- Leave the door open for about 15 minutes to allow free air circulation.
If Odors Cannot Be Removed
- Wipe inside of unit with equal parts vinegar and water. Vinegar provides acid which destroys mildew.
- Leave the door open and allow to air out for several days.
- Stuff both the refrigerator and freezer with rolled newspapers. Close the door and leave for several days. Remove paper and clean with vinegar and water.
- Sprinkle fresh coffee grounds or baking soda loosely in a large, shallow container in the bottom of the refrigerator and freezer.
- Place a cotton swab soaked with vanilla inside the refrigerator and freezer. Close door for 24 hours. Check for odors.
- Use a commercial product available at hardware and housewares stores. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
If odors cannot be removed, then the refrigerator or freezer may need to be discarded. If you need to discard the refrigerator or freezer, discard it in a safe manner:
It is unlawful in many jurisdictions to discard old refrigerators or freezers without first removing the door. Depending on where you live, your appliance will be picked up by your solid waste provider, a recycler, a retailer (if you buy a new unit), or program sponsored by local or regional utilities.
- "Childproof" old refrigerators or freezers so children do not get trapped inside. The surest way is to take the door off.
- If the door will not come off, chain and padlock the door permanently and close tightly, or remove or disable the latch completely so the door will no longer lock when closed.