Before you start
There’s no reason to clean out your fridge the day after a big shopping trip. Pick a day just before you go shopping, when your fridge is relatively empty. For safety reasons, it’s a good idea to unplug your fridge before you start cleaning it.
Gather your supplies:
small cleaning brush
new box of baking soda
Take food from the fridge and place it on the table or counter. As you do this, check the dates and toss anything that’s expired.
Fill the bucket with warm water, and add a half cup of baking soda. (Save the rest of the baking soda — you can put the box in the fridge later to neutralize odors.) Use this solution to wipe down the empty shelves and interior with a sponge, starting from the top and working your way down.
Use a brush to clean around brackets and gaskets and to dislodge any dried food. Wipe the inside dry with a terrycloth towel.
Before you put the food back in the fridge, take a moment to group similar foods together. This will help you find items easier. Separate ethylene-sensitive produce (e.g., apples, broccoli) from produce that releases ethylene gas (e.g., bananas, pears) to prevent premature decay. Make sure that all containers are sealed properly and that anything wrapped is covered completely. Airtight storage will help prevent spills and spoilage. As you begin to put items back in the fridge, be careful to space food out to allow a free flow of air. Keep eggs, poultry, meat and seafood separate from all other items to help limit the spread of bacteria. And if you’ve unplugged your fridge, don’t forget to plug it back in!