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Home Food Waste Spring cleaning: How to clean your fridge sustainably

Spring cleaning: How to clean your fridge sustainably

Published on April 28 2021

You know your fridge is in need of a serious spring cleaning when you find leftover turkey from Christmas hiding at the very back of your overstocked shelves. Or worse… leftover pumpkin pie. 

While deep cleaning your fridge is an excellent way to declutter, disinfect and reorganize your fridge, it’s a huge task that tends to result in unnecessary waste that contributes to our landfills. Plus it requires a lot of cleaning supplies that often contain toxic chemicals harmful to the environment.  

Enter our 5-step sustainable spring cleaning guide! From DIY surface cleaners to recycling tips and storage strategies, we have everything you need to give your fridge the eco-friendly rub-down it deserves.

How to make your fridge spring cleaning eco-friendly

1. Empty

The first step to deep cleaning your fridge is, of course, emptying it. The best time to do this is the day before you plan on doing a grocery run since you’ll most likely have a lot less food hanging around in your fridge. Any food items or liquids that have to be kept cool should be stored in a cooler or another fridge to keep them fresh.

2. Clean

Time to give that fridge a good scrub-down! Instead of reaching for the many toxic cleaners, save the environment (and your money) by making your own eco-friendly surface cleaner using everyday kitchen staples. Here’s how:

DIY surface cleaner

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Once you mixed all the ingredients together and have your DIY surface cleaner ready to go, the next step is to take out your fridge shelves and crisper drawers and give them a good scrubbing. Also clean and disinfect any stains, spilled food, sticky spots, and grime you find inside your fridge. This includes the door seal where crumbs tend to accumulate and if left there too long, can turn into mold.

PRO TIP: Dealing with a stubborn stain? Mix warm water and 1 tbsp baking soda and scrub (If your shelves are made of glass, be sure to let them come to room temperature before washing with warm water to avoid cracking.)

Before placing your food back in your fridge, take count of your inventory first and triage them

3. Triage

To throw out or not to throw out? That is the question. Before placing your food back in your fridge, take count of your inventory first and triage them into groups (e.g. keep in the fridge, freeze, compost, throw out, etc.) Here are a few sustainable tips & tricks to help you out:

  • Understand “best before” dates. Just because a product passed its best-before date by a few days doesn’t mean it’s no longer good or safe to eat. Once you understand how “expiry” dates work, you’ll quickly realize that you’ve been sitting on a food-waste hack that has the power to help you reduce unnecessary waste and save you more money.
  • Consider freezing. Got any food items that are on the brink of spoiling? Or maybe you’re stuck with leftovers you know you want to eat but won’t get to in time. Instead of throwing out food that’s still perfectly good and safe to eat, store them in your freezer. That way, if ever you’re short on time or the fridge is empty, you have something quick and delicious to fall back on.
  • Compost spoiled produce: But just because your food is showing signs of spoilage bacteria (e.g. strong unpleasant smell, mold, rot, etc.) doesn’t mean it’s destined for the bin. If you found half-rotten fruits and veg in your fridge, give them a new life by adding them to your compost bin.
  • Discard spoiled food: Chances are you’ve probably discovered a few food relics that were mummifying in the back of your fridge, like that half-empty tin of moldy cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving. Any meat, fish, dairy or processed food that has gone bad should be thrown out since the bacteria growth could spread to other fresher items through cross-contamination. Not only would that force you to throw away even more food, but it could create a breeding ground for bacteria and pose a serious health risk.

4. Reorganize

An organized fridge is a clean fridge. Taking the time to consider where you’re putting things in your fridge means you’ll be able to keep your food fresher, longer, reducing your waste in the long run. We call this “smart stacking,” a technique used to reduce everyday food waste at home. Since not all sections of your fridge have equal temperatures, check out our Smart Stacking 101 Guide so you know exactly where to put what to maximize shelf life and prevent cross-contamination.

5. Maintain

The last step is to ensure that clean fridge remains clean by maintaining it. A great way to do this is by adding a box of baking soda, which has antibacterial properties and helps eliminate odors naturally (just remember to replace it regularly). 

Another maintenance trick? Use the First In First Out (FIFO) method where the food that’s been in storage the longest (first in) should be the next food you use (first out). So before you go grocery shopping to stock up your freshly cleaned fridge, make sure you use up your leftovers first to avoid throwing them out later.

How often should I clean my fridge?

If you keep your fridge organized and regularly maintained with the above techniques, then doing an eco-friendly deep clean can be kept to every two months. But if you’ve spilled a few things in the past week or your shelves are quickly getting crowded, then it might be best to clean on a monthly basis to make sure your fridge stays in tip top shape and your food stays nice and fresh.


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