Monday, September 27, 2010

Be cool…reenergize your refrigerator

Last week I had to pleasure of being a guest blogger at where I submitted the piece below on cleaning out the refrigerator - a timely topic now that we are switching seasons.

Jennifer Palais is an LA based organizer who works virtually as a coach to help clients unclutter their internal well-being as well as physical environments. If this sounds like someone who could help you out in CA, check her out.

School is underway, summer has a few more days and before you know it, we will all be on the holiday fast track. Before figuring out where you’re going to put that pumpkin pie, turkey or leftover Halloween chocolate, why not take this time to clean out the refrigerator and freezer before your next spree at Costco.

Easier to make this when your fridge is setup! (Photo by Zoetrope)

As with any de-cluttering project, the first step is a massive clear-out. Open the refrigerator and remove everything. If it’s easier you can have trash, compost and recycling bins at your side so you can sort and toss as you go along. Remember, Whole Foods recycles cork (old wine bottles?!) and #5 plastics and will give you a location near you to recycle plastic bottle tops. ‘Keepers’ should be set-aside on a counter or kitchen table. This may seem obvious, but check containers for expiration dates and signs of aging.

1950s GE refrigerator ad (Photo by SeeSaw)

Once the refrigerator is empty, take a basin of warm water with a mixture of baking soda and gently sponge the shelves, glass tops, crisper drawers, etc. If the fridge is particularly smelly, add a drop of lemon essential oil to the water – this will help combat odors as well as work on any greasy residue. If it’s easier, take out the removable pieces and clean them in the sink or bathtub. Once the interior is spotless, add a new box of baking soda to prevent future odors (dump the old box down the drain or make a paste to clean greasy pots and pans).

Before putting anything back in the refrigerator, give the keepers a once over and wipe the containers of any spillage. Group like items together: condiments, salad dressings in one spot, beverages in another, fruits and vegetables in the crispers, etc. Not only will your appliance work more effectively but the breathing room will allow you to view your contents and therefore keep you shopping more efficiently.

Next stop is the freezer where you follow the same steps. However, in this case, for a freezer to work efficiently it is recommended that it be kept full. You might want to take a tip from Martha Stewart: keep blocks of ice in your freezer to keep it energy efficient if your freezer is often empty. And don’t forget to replace the baking soda…

Doing this refrigerator re-sort before you go food shopping will help you keep track of what you need so you don’t overbuy or clutter all those clean empty spaces!

The real deal! A 1950s kitchen with the refrigerator loft-style (Photo by acn1495)

So your interior is now spotless and organized, and you’re thinking it’s time to reward yourself with a drink… not so fast. You’re not finished until you face the exterior of the appliance. Using a warm soapy solution, gently wipe from top to bottom to remove stickiness and fingerprints. Make sure you wipe the rubber seal around each door and make sure it’s tight. A good test to tell if energy is escaping from your refrigerator is to stick a dollar bill in the door, close it and see if you can pull the bill out. If you can, your refrigerator is losing energy so the gasket should be replaced. If you can’t, the seal is tight and you are on track.

The last thing to do to keep your appliance in tiptop shape is to dust or vacuum the coils in the back; this should be done monthly.

Here’s to the cool hard cash you are about to save!

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