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How to Clean Out Your Fridge Before the Holiday Season

A stress-free celebration starts with making space for the deliciousness to come.

Cleaning out the fridge
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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“Spring cleaning” is of course a classic, and “back-to-school” season is another fresh-start moment in the year. But perhaps the most helpful time of year to give your refrigerator a thorough going-over is right now, as early into the “holiday season” as possible. So it’s time to start strategizing right now!

You don’t have to be anticipating huge gatherings or multi-course meals to make meaning out of cleaning out your refrigerator. Even if you’re ordering in or going small for the holidays, this time of year is really the hinge in the seasonal door that closes out the last of the summer bounty and eases us into the cold months of winter.

A fridge that’s sparkling clean and stocked with fresh, healthful foods will nourish more than our bodies during this transition time. It will also invite us to preserve our positive practices of self-love through whatever is coming next—from holiday feasts to grab-and-go snacks.

Here are some tips for how to clean out your fridge in the most efficient and satisfying way possible.

Set Up a “Staging Area”
The food magazine Epicurious suggests setting up a “staging area” to maximize your ability to organize the contents of your refrigerator, while minimizing the amount of time your perishables are outside of the icebox. Setting up a recycling bin for discarded containers, a compost bin if you have one to collect expired foods, and a large clean surface like a counter or table to place the items you will put back in the refrigerator after it’s clean.

Make a Top-to-Bottom Plan
Having a “top-to-bottom” plan is also helpful. Start with the top shelf, removing all the items stored there and assessing for expiration dates or recognitions that nobody in your family actually likes sweet pickles. Wash and dry those shelves, and replace the items before moving onto the next shelf.

Clean the Removable Shelves and Drawers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using hot, soapy water to clean removable surfaces in your fridge. Any parts of the refrigerator, such as shelves and drawers, can slide out of the fridge and come over to the sink for their clean-up. Dry with a clean towel before placing them back in the refrigerator.

Don’t Forget to Clean the Top, Bottom, and Sides
For the ceiling, floor, and sides of the refrigerator itself, the CDC recommends a wipe-down with the same hot, soapy water. Once dry, a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach diluted in 1 gallon of water can be used as a sanitizer for these areas. A vinegar solution in a spray bottle is also a handy, non-chemical sanitizer for these surfaces.

Ask How Your Fridge Nourishes You
Taking everything apart and putting it back together again is, ultimately, an opportunity to look closely at what you have chosen to make available for the nourishment of yourself and your family. What do you see when you take this view? Take the moment to notice things you’re interesting in having more (or less) of—and give yourself the early holiday gift of making a plan to align the contents of your fridge with your health and wellness goals.

Do you clean out your refrigerator in anticipation of holiday season?

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