One of my goals for Live Simply is to make natural living as practical as possible. In order to do this, I share my family’s experiences here on Live Simply–what’s working for us, what we’re learning, and the steps we’re taking to simplify this lifestyle.
It’s easy to pick up a natural ingredient–like vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap–from the store, but what does it look like to actually use these products to clean a home or care for the body?
In the past, we’ve talked about using natural ingredients to clean the main rooms in a home. We’ve also explored more specific tasks: cleaning toilets, disinfecting cutting boards, scrubbing sinks, and cleaning the dishwasher.
Today, let’s focus on how to naturally clean the fridge. Not only does a regularly cleaned fridge look and smell great (we’ll talk about avoiding fridge odors later), but it’s also an important key to successfully meal planning, staying within a budget, and keeping food fresh.
How to Naturally Clean Your Fridge
Here’s how I clean my fridge on a weekly or bi-monthly basis (depending on our schedule).
Weekly is ideal, since I can clean on the weekend, meal plan based on what’s in my fridge, and then shop for other food items needed to make meals for the upcoming week.
Step One: Make an All-Purpose Cleaner
What You’ll Need: White Vinegar + Sal Suds (optional) + Essential Oil (optional)
A basic vinegar all-purpose spray cleaner can be made. Or you can add a bit of extra cleaning and deodorizing power to the vinegar solution by adding Sal Suds and essential oil. Vinegar naturally disinfects and cleans, Sal Suds lifts dirt, and the essential oil provides a lovely scent and beneficial cleaning properties. I like to use grapefruit, sweet orange, or lemon essential oil.
Both spray cleaners can be used to clean other areas of the home, too, hence the all-purpose title.
Step Two: Inventory and Remove Food
Before using the all-purpose spray, remove everything from the fridge. I personally just remove food from the main areas, saving the condiment shelves and vegetable/fruit drawers for a deep cleaning session.
As you remove the food, take a mental note of what needs to be used ASAP, what can go back in the fridge and used at a later date (this is the food you can use to create your next meal plan), and what needs to be tossed or composted.
Step Three: Spray and Wipe
Once the food has been removed, spray the main surfaces with the all-purpose cleaner. I prefer to let the spray rest on the surfaces for a few minutes before wiping the spray off with a clean towel.
Step Four: Return Food
Finally, return the usable/edible food (we already tossed the stinky beans hiding and rotting in the back of the fridge ;)) to the fridge. At this point, since I clean my fridge on the weekend, I also create my meal plan at the same time. My fridge inventory is fresh in my mind, so it’s easy to start planning based on what I already have in stock. This practice keeps my budget in check since I don’t purchase foods already sitting in my fridge when I visit the store.
Extra Deep Cleaning:
Every couple of months, I also remove the condiment shelves and fruit and veggie drawers, and wash them in a sink full of warm water, 1 cup of vinegar, and a few drops of Sal Suds.
If there’s ever build-up in the fridge (maybe a mysterious spill that wasn’t caught earlier in the week?), I use a homemade scrub cleaner on the stubborn area.
How to Naturally Keep Odors Away
The fridge can be a home for all sorts of interesting odors. Some of these odors are lovely (sweet strawberries and fresh herbs) and some aren’t so appealing (cooked beans that have seen better days).
Regularly cleaning the fridge helps take care of most odors, but just to be safe I like to keep a jar of baking soda and essential oil in the fridge. This mixture helps to neutralize the odors and keep them from overtaking the fridge (and other foods).
What You’ll Need: 1 cup baking soda + 40 drops lemon, grapefruit, or sweet orange essential oil
Combine the baking soda and essential oil in a storage container. Store the container/mason jar in the fridge. After 1 month, dump the baking soda (or use it to clean your sink or toilet bowl), and create a new deodorizer. This recipe makes enough to fill an 8 ounce container.