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When was the last time you cleaned your fridge and threw out all of the old, or questionable, food? If you’re like most people, it’s probably been a while.Deep cleaning the refrigerator is a task most people dread, which is why many of us don’t do it as often as we should.

The average fridge is a breeding ground for loads of potentially dangerous bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, and the “hairy” fungus we’ve all come to know and hate, mold. And that’s just in the salad drawer! Pretty nasty, right?

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Fun fact! Did you know that November 15 is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day? It’s a special day created to encourage people to clean out their refrigerators before the holidays.The main reason why folks dread cleaning their refrigerator is because they usually wait until it’s overflowing with old, stinky food and looks like a seventh-grade biology experiment in a Stephen King movie.

At that point, it can take hours to deep clean, along with some priests and a lot of holy water.To be on the safe side, you should deep clean your fridge at least monthly. This means soaking all the drawers in warm soapy water and completely wiping down the inside. The best time to do this is when your fridge is relatively empty, just before you go grocery shopping.

Tossing out old food weekly is a good way to ensure that it doesn’t infect fresh food with mold, bacteria and ickiness! Don’t wait until food has visibly gone bad to throw it away. If you have trouble remembering how old food is, stick a label on leftovers before putting them in the frig so you’ll know which food items to toss and which to keep.

During your weekly purge, quickly wipe down the door, veggie bins and shelves. If you do this consistently, it won’t take too long to deep clean the frig at the end of the month.To prevent cross contamination, clean up spills as soon as they happen. It only takes a few seconds and goes a long way in keeping food safe.

As a rule of thumb, fruits and vegetable go in the top drawer, cheese and lunch meats in the middle, and raw meat at the bottom. Keep eggs towards the back of the fridge where it’s coldest, in their original container. Although it’s tempting, don’t keep your eggs in those sculpted shelves in the door. Only condiments, salads dressings, oils and such items should be kept in the door.

Lastly, don’t cram food into your refrigerator as this will prevent the cold air from circulating. This causes your food to go bad even if you keep your refrigerator at or below the recommended 40 degrees.If you follow these tips, you won’t have to worry about getting food poisoning from your fridge, which, when you think about it, makes cleaning your fridge every month kind of worth it.

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