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Caring for the Kitchen Workhorse
The refrigerator is one of the hardest working appliances in your home -- and one that often takes a beating. It's subject to spills, varied odors, and overcrowding, and it's the one appliance that never gets a rest. A clean refrigerator promises to keep food fresher, so do your best to maintain the cleanliness of this kitchen workhorse.
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Wipe Up Spills
Daily: Wipe up spills immediately, before they have a chance to dry. Make sure everything that goes into the fridge is immaculate; wipe off rims of jam jars, salad dressing bottles, and ketchup containers before storing them.
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Check for Spoilage
Daily: Check for spoilage and throw out anything past its prime. Place anything likely to leak, such as defrosting meat or cartons of berries, on a rimmed plate.
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Weekly: Wipe doors, including edges, and top of refrigerator with a cloth dampened with mild dishwashing liquid and water. Pay special attention to the areas around the handles, which can harbor sticky fingerprints. For stainless-steel surfaces, use commercial stainless-steel spray and wipe in the direction of the grain.
Seasonally: Clean the door seals, which can collect crumbs, with hot water and mild dishwashing liquid. Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth. Check that seals fit properly.
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Empty the Fridge
Seasonally: Turn off the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box and empty the fridge contents into a cooler. Bring glass shelves and crisper drawers to room temperature before you wash them.
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Seasonally: Wipe the interior with a mix of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart hot water. Rinse with a damp cloth, then dry with a clean towel. This will clean as well as help to eliminate odors. Do not use soap or detergent, because they can leave behind a scent the food will absorb.
To remove caked-on residue, rehydrate by liberally applying the baking soda solution with a wet towel. Leave the door open, and let the residue soak in the solution for 10 minutes, or until it starts to crack or soften. Reapply if necessary.
Soak shelves and bins in a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda for every quart warm water. Do not wash in the dishwasher, and dry thoroughly before replacing.
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Keep Leftovers Airtight
Regular maintenance and storing leftovers in airtight containers are the best ways to prevent odors. Even so, you may still be plagued with smells from time to time. Try spreading a box of baking soda onto a rimmed baking sheet. Leave it inside with the door closed, until the smell goes away.
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Another method is to spread fresh coffee grounds on a tray inside, until the smell goes away. The lingering coffee scent will eventually disappear.
Or, place activated charcoal (available at drugstores or pet shops) on a tray inside, with the fridge temperature set on "low."
Cat litter can also help. Spread 1/2 inch unscented chlorophyll cat litter in a shallow pan and leave it inside until the smell is gone.
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