Happy Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

Nov. 15 is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, nobody is sure where this “holiday” originated from, but the goal is to clean and organize your refrigerator.

Clear, plastic food containers in fridge.

Happy Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

Yes, you read that right. Nov. 15 is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day and it is not another greeting card holiday. There are a few stories as to where this famous day originated. One website claims it is a Whirlpool Appliance ad campaign from years ago, other sites say it was created to get consumers to make space for Thanksgiving. Regardless, it is a good idea to take stock and determine just how long some of those items have been in your refrigerator. Believe it or not, home refrigerators should not be the cultivating spot for science experiments.

Here are a few helpful steps to assist in making that cleaning job happen more quickly:

  • Dispose: Start by taking everything out of the fridge and placing it on your countertops. If you will be at this task for more than an hour, have a cooler handy for perishables. Check dates for expired foods, it is time to toss and purge! The United States Department of Agriculture has created a storage chart for recommendations of how long to keep leftovers.
  •  Consolidate: If you have two half-empty jars of pickles, combine them to save space. Just make sure one of them has not out lived its expiration date.
  • Dismantle: Take out shelves and drawers so you can give the inside of the refrigerator a good, deep cleaning with hot, soapy water. Wipe down the interior, wash the shelves and drawers, clean up all the drippings and spills and let everything air dry before reassembling.
  • Get the door: Make sure you clean all the pockets on the door, wipe down the seal around the edge of the door and do not forget to clean the handle and front of the appliance.
  • Keep it clean: Michigan State University Extension recommends removing any expired food from the refrigerator once a week and placing a container of baking soda in the refrigerator to help control odors.

Now that you have cleaned and organized your refrigerator, it would be a great time to set some new ground rules. Start by labeling and dating what is in your leftover containers, this way you know what you are saving for another meal. Time flies when we are having fun, something you might have tucked away in the refrigerator for another time has suddenly been saved for a couple of weeks, instead of a couple of days and is no longer a safe leftover. By labeling and dating, you will know what you have in the container.

Consider starting an inventory sheet. This is helpful when it comes to using remaining leftovers and meal planning. Tips like these help reduce waste, save money and keep your family from experiencing a possible food poisoning. Keeping your refrigerator clean can also prevent bacteria from growing in it.

Do not wait until National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, make it a monthly event to treat your refrigerator well and it will take care of the foods you love.

If you have questions about food safety, use Michigan State Extension’s Food Safety Hotline, call 810-285-9565. The hotline will assist in answering your food safety questions. Michigan State University Extension offers programs related to food preservation, food safety, food health and more. To find a program near you visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/events.

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