Ah, the kitchen fridge. You probably aren't cleaning it as often as you should, leaving perishable items to be forgotten in the back. But regular cleaning keeps your fridge in good condition and wards off unpleasant odors. Don't feel overwhelmed—all it takes are some common household items to clean things up. Arm yourself with baking soda, water, dish soap, and dry cloths; move your food to a cooler; and you're all set to tackle the task of cleaning a refrigerator.
Hand-wash removable shelves, wire racks, and drawers in hot water and mild dish soap. (Let glass components warm up to room temperature before letting them contact hot water; otherwise they might crack.) Cover stubborn food spills with a warm, wet cloth for a few minutes to soften them for removal with a nonabrasive scrubber. Pay special attention to the bottom of wire racks, which is a spot that attracts debris.
Wash inside your fridge with a mixture of 1 part baking soda and 7 parts water. (Beware commercial cleaners -- their scent might transfer to food.) Work from top to bottom to prevent drips from landing on already-clean surfaces. Use an old toothbrush or toothpicks to reach cracks and crevices you can't get to with a cloth, such as hinges and other hardware. Wipe everything dry with a clean towel.
The last thing you want your food to come in contact with is bad odors. Unfortunately, that's exactly the kind of environment your refrigerator fosters unless you take necessary action.Tackle those pesky smells without having to buy any harsh chemical cleaners.
Once you've rinsed and dried all surfaces, deodorize by filling an open container with dry baking soda and leaving it on the bottom shelf. This will absorb any future odors from lingering near your food, so do not remove it when you refill your fridge. Now you can put your food back inside; just be sure to double check if anything is expired before putting it back.
Pay special attention to the rubber gasket around the door. It needs to be kept clean and supple to maintain a tight seal. Use warm water and liquid dish soap for normal grime and a bleach-base cleaner if you find mold. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry. Then coat the seal with a thin layer of petroleum jelly to keep it from drying out.
Don't give sticky spills a jump start by reloading the fridge with sloppy food containers and spoiled fruits and vegetables. Toss anything that's questionable. Use baking soda and water to wipe off any jars, bottles, or cans with drips or crusty lids. Make sure you use clean cloths and dry everything thoroughly before putting it back. Make this task easier by doing it as you go.