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Start the New Year with a Clean Fridge



Happy New Year

Hey – Happy New Year!



Since food is normally the 3rd largest budget item, what a better way to start the New Year than to get your fridge ready to help save you money?

Each year, people tend to throw away more than 25% of their annual budget. To illustrate that so it means more;

  • If you spend $200/month, you have trashed at least $600 each year
  • If you spend $250/month, you have trashed at least $750 each year
  • If you spend $300/month, you have trashed at least $900 each year

Wow! It does not seem like that much when you throw away part of a bunch of celery or part of a head of broccoli, or milk that went sour, etc.

How many times have you stashed food items in your fridge and not been able to find them when you needed them?  And the next month, as you were looking for something else, found what you were looking for last month? Only now it was moldy?

Why not start the New Year out aligning yourself so you automatically save money with your refrigerator? Start out by cleaning every inch of your fridge, both inside and out:

Prepare to Wash Your Refrigerator 

  1. Before taking any foods out of your fridge, assemble everything you’ll need to complete the job:
    • Ice chests and/or boxes that you will cover with blankets to keep foods cold
    • Paper towels or clean Handiwipes
  2. Sheets, towels, or blankets to cover food items when they’re in the boxes as you clean your fridge
  3. Fill a sink with warm, soapy water to drawers; small grates, etc.
  4. Assemble the cleansers you will use. I prefer using natural antiseptic cleaners so I use a solution of 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle. In addition to eliminating germs, it also eliminates odors
  5. When everything is assembled, turn the thermostat OFF in your fridge
  6. Remove all food items and put them in ice chests/boxes cover to keep the food cold
  7. Remove all grates, drawers, panels, etc.

Wash Your Fridge

  1. Wash items that fit in the sink.  Spray those that will not fit with a vinegar cleaning solution (I always have a cleaning solution mixed and stored in spray bottles: 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water) and follow up by using a spray bottle filled with fresh water.  Wipe dry with paper towel or Handiwipe
  2. Remember to wipe the gasket that goes around the refrigerator door, inside the ridge, with a solution made of 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water. Wipe dry with a paper towel or handiwipe
  3. Wash the bottom of all drawers which is where the most bacteria and mold form.
  4. Finally, wipe down the back wall of the fridge with a vinegar/water solution.

I like vinegar because it also disinfects.

Return Items to Fridge

  1. Turn the thermostat back on: ideal temperature for the fridge is between 35° – 38° F to inhibit mold from forming (above 38° F) but not freeze (32° F)
  2. As you replace food items in the appropriate drawers or areas in your fridge, enter the info on an inventory that you will post on the outside of the fridge in easy view
  3. Trash items that have gone bad. Leftovers should be used in 4-5 days.  It’s not worth getting food poisoning by trying to keep leftover longer than that
  4. Get in the habit putting items you normally use in designated sections so you can quickly open the fridge, grab the item without hunting for it, and close the door. This is a time management technique; however, more importantly, extends the life of the fridge motor
    • The coldest part of your fridge is in the back, so items such as milk and eggs should live in the back of the fridge
    • The warmest part is in the door and everything near the front
  5. After everything is back in the fridge, vacuum the coils in the back of the fridge (and freezer) so it runs more smoothly, using less energy
  6. Keep in mind that the items in your fridge need to have a pocket of air around them to keep the airflow regular, unlike a freezer that does better when it’s fully packed.

Mark Your Calendar


  1. The easiest way to remember to clean your fridge each quarter is to hook it onto the change of the seasons; however, if you’ve got time management under control, just set a task reminder to clean the fridge at a time that works best for your.
  2. Complete a thorough cleaning every six months

NOTE: I have a stand up freezer and I defrost it once each year; however, I do that in November of each year. In November, I have used a lot of the food items in the freezer and also before the holidays when I make many casseroles, cookies, and a wide variety of other foods, not to mention several whole turkeys!

Do you have any tips about how you start the New Year? If so, please leave a comment to share your ideas.


Thanks for visiting

Traveling Nana

Related Articles:

Freezer Use (part of Minimize Food Waste)



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