A Step by Step Guide, or a Cautionary Tale Depending On Your Perspective
I wrote this as a helpful guide for my millions of rabid readers out there who have always been wondering how I clean my fridge. Now you can know, and die happy. (But please don’t die just because you know this now. I just mean, you can be fulfilled in your life. Don’t die.)
Make yourself a frappe. This is my version of a glass of wine to make things more enjoyable and/or bearable.
6 cubes of frozen coffee (or really strong cold coffee and ice)
1 Tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk (I used 2 today because … hello! Cleaning out the fridge …)
1 Tablespoon Nestle’s cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon of protein powder to make this drink good for you
water so that it will blend
Pour into a glass, get a pink straw, sip it and take a deep breath
Cue up a good station on your Pandora. I listen to one entitled, “Hey There Delilah”. Don’t judge me.
Run a sink of hot, soapy water.
As an added bonus, get your game face on. This is my game face. I look so confused because I rarely clean my fridge.
Take every single thing out of the fridge and set it on counters. Have a brief panic attack knowing that you won’t be returning things for at least 45 minutes (you’re not really being realistic there, it’ll be like an hour and a half,) and how many days should you be deducting from your milk’s expiration date by letting it sit out so long? In the next nano second have a good, hearty belly laugh when you remember that you just bought this milk yesterday, and it will most definitely be gone by tomorrow.
Throw all the bad stuff directly into the trash can and wish that you hadn’t put so many things into containers that you’re unwilling to part with. Put the disgusting containers in the sink full of soapy water.
Pull all the shelves out. This could take a while if you wait as long as I do to clean out your fridge because your shelves are sticky with something dreadful that someone spilled who knows how long ago. It has also pooled and congealed at the bottom underneath the crisper drawers. Suppress your gag reflex when you realize there is also a refrigerated fly stuck in the bottom of the muck. A fly? What on earth?! Spray the empty fridge with Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Multi Surface Cleaner and close the door.
Your kitchen now looks like you set a bomb off in it and you can’t imagine it ever looking good again. Take a deep breath, and a sip of your mocha.
Wash all the shelves and drawers. This is problematic if you have a sink as small as mine, because none of them actually fit into the sink all the way, and the parts that stick out shed water onto the counters and the floor. As a bonus step, you may want to mop up the water on your floor.
Open the fridge and realize you forgot to empty the door. Sigh and empty the door taking a brief moment to ponder why someone who lives in a household with only one person who likes mayo, and even they only use it like twice a year, has so many opened jars of mayo in the door. The mysteries of life…
Wash out the goo on the walls and floor of your fridge. Feel a brief moment of sadness for the fly who either froze to death, or starved to death stuck in the goo. Then remember that flies are disgusting little carriers of disease and that this very fly could be the reason you had the stomach bug last week. Suppress the gag reflex again as you wipe him out and all his legs stay in the sticky mess. It’s no worse than all the gross food containers you just emptied though. Get over it quickly.
Pat yourself on the back because your fridge is now sparkling clean and ready for the return of your shelves. Now it is time to try to figure out all the exact spots that they go in, especially the door guards because for some unknown, god-forsaken reason, they are all customized to specific moldings! Why? As you work, compose a letter of complaint to the manufacturer:
Dear Director of Operations at the Frigidaire off brand fridge plant,
Why do you hate us? We are your customers, and the reason you have your job in the first place. I mean, not me personally. I was given this fridge by my brother-in-law who found it on Craigslist from a college student who was giving it away, but that’s hardly the point here. Cleaning out refrigerators is complicated enough without you specializing every single shelf and door guard. (Are those shelf holder thingies in the doors called door guards? I feel like I just made that up to sound smart.) Shelves in fridges are fairly straightforward, so just stop with all the custom molding nonsense. We look into these fridges like 18 times a day and still can’t remember where they all go once they’re taken out. Help us out here. Things are tough all over.
Mom of five who’s barely hanging on by a thread
P.S. Your CEO probably makes $800,000 a year or something, right? Despot.
Now that you feel a little better, and hopefully have figured out where all your shelves go, smile. You’re almost done.
Return all your non-spoiled food to the fridge, categorizing things to your heart’s content. This is actually a fun part. I put fruit in one drawer and veggies in the other. I put all the cheese and meat that wasn’t petrified or fossilized into the actual cheese and meat drawer. All dairy goes in one little section, tortillas in another. “I will keep it organized like this forever,” I croon softly as I work. “This shelf will always be where leftovers go. This perfect little customized spot in the door (mentally redact angry letter to Frigidaire conglomerates) will be where jams and jellies are lovingly replaced. And seriously, with all those mayo jars? For the love of Hellman’s.”
Look around your kitchen and realize you still aren’t finished. There are nasty containers to be washed and trash that stinks so badly, because the smell is why you cleaned the fridge in the first place. Heave the trash out to the dumpster and wish your husband was here so you could pretend you can’t lift it and could make him throw it in. Throw it in like a boss and then rush inside to make an appointment with your chiropractor.
Now you’re finished. Take a picture. Vow a vow that you will do this more often. Make a mental list of which shelves you will clean each week so that it never gets in this condition again. Pretend you don’t hear the fridge chuckling at you as you leave the kitchen, and whispering, “yeah right, Jules. See you next year.”
Then remember that you were going to clean the freezer out today as well. Meh, there’s always tomorrow. After all, it wasn’t the frozen stuff that was stinking. I’m sure the freezer looks awesome.
I edited out additional steps which included stopping approximately 85 times to make snacks for the little people, and three lectures on the starving little kids in China who would be HAPPY to have half of a recently defrosted cinnamon and raisin bagel for a snack.