Last Call: What discoveries have you made cleaning out your refrigerator?

Illustration for article titled Last Call: What discoveries have you made cleaning out your refrigerator?
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After the stress baking comes the stress cleaning. Or so I’ve heard. Since social distancing and shelter in place began last week, I’ve heard tell of people who have gotten so bored staying inside that they’ve noticed every stray mite of dust in their homes and have resolved to do something about it.


For me, the breaking point for serious cleaning is the refrigerator. I was finally bored enough to tackle mine during the second week of our holiday hiatus. It had been a long time. There were some pleasant surprises, like the bottle of Mexican Coke I’d stashed away. Most of the surprises, though, were far more unpleasant. There were a few dessicated lemons that had turned orange, several moldy rinds of cheese, a bag of greenish-brown sludge that had once been cilantro, and the dregs of several containers of various dairy products that were long past their expiration date. The worst part, though, was a sticky, syrupy puddle that had settled on the bottom shelf and solidified in the cold. I’m not sure what it was. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. What I do know is that it took a long time to scrub it off. And then afterward, I would periodically open the now-pristine fridge to admire it. And now it’s a mess again and it makes me want to weep. Though not yet to clean.

What wonderful things have you found during your own fridge-cleaning expeditions?

(For the fridge cleaning itself, I highly recommend the method developed by Jolie Kerr, aka Ask A Clean Person, and detailed in her book My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. You take all the shelves and drawers out of the fridge and dump them in a bathtub full of warm, soapy water. It’s not exactly magical, but it’s far less painful than it would be otherwise.)

Associate editor of The Takeout. Chicagoan. Owned by dog.



I’ve now cleaned it twice.

We overbuy groceries. As a household of 2, we keep our 26 cubic foot fridge packed. I noticed some wet puddles at the bottom and assumed it was an airflow issue, so took everything out, wiped everything with bleachy water, threw out so many moldy olives, and thought I was good. Today, the damp was back. It turns out my particular fridge often freezes the defrost drain, so I got to do the same thing again, as well as MacGuyvering copper wiring into the drain to conduct heat from the defrost heating element down the drain. Fingers crossed!

As for the biggest food surprise, a hunk of unopened Prairie Breeze cheddar. I freaking love that cheese.