How to clean out your fridge, freezer while maximizing their efficiency
It's that time of year when you're reeeeally dependent upon your refrigerator and freezer to keep things ice-cold. Cold drinks, cold ice, cold leftovers (so they don't spoil!), frozen popsicles, the whole nine yards! It's not a bad time of year to stick your head inside and take a look around inside, see what you can clean out, and find what you can do to make sure your appliance is running as efficiently as possible.
What are some of the top tips and tricks to cleaning out your refrigerator and freezer? And while you're at it, what do you need to know to make sure they are both running as efficiently as possible? Imagine: colder drinks AND a lower electricity bill. It's possible and we at World Class Cleaning are here to help you realize that dream!
After poring over many different articles and many different lists of tips, tricks, and ideas... It looks like thesimpledollar.com really hits the nail on the head in terms of getting all the key points. Check out what they have to say:
- Clean the coils regularly.
The coils on the bottom and the back of your refrigerator tend to gather dust over time. As that dust builds up, your refrigerator doesn’t run as well as it used to. The condenser kicks on more often, it has to work harder, it eats up more energy (costing you), and it wears out quicker (costing you). So, do a little bit of maintenance once a year or so. Pull out your refrigerator and dust the coils in the back and underneath the device. Use a low-power vacuum to make sure there’s no excess dust floating around in the place where the refrigerator normally sits. Doing this little thing will cause your refrigerator’s condenser to work more efficiently – it won’t kick on as often (trimming your energy bill) and it won’t wear out as quickly (saving on your repair and replacement costs).
- Fill your empty milk or juice jugs with water, then stick ’em in the freezer.
A freezer, whether it’s a deep freezer or a freezer housed in the same appliance as a refrigerator, functions best when it’s really full, as the cold items help keep other items cold and maintain the low temperature. But how can you keep it full without stocking it with a bunch of food that you may or may not eat? If you’re not into filling your freezer with food, fill it with water. It’s simple. Take an empty milk jug (or juice jug), rinse it out, then fill it about 75% full with tap water. Stick that jug in the freezer and just leave it there. It’ll freeze, then it will help keep the temperature of your freezer low over the long haul, causing your freezer to kick on a bit less often to keep your items cool. Even better, you can directly use these jugs when you need a lot of ice. You can either stick the jug entirely in a cooler or smash it open and use the broken ice pieces to your desire. Works like a charm – we do it all the time!
- Pull the fridge forward an inch or two.
In many kitchens, refrigerators are pushed back as close to the wall as possible in order to eke out a few more inches of floor space. Those few inches are really expensive. If your refrigerator is pushed back as far as possible, pulling it forward one inch can reduce the energy usage of the refrigerator by as much as 40%, and you’ll barely notice the difference in your floor usage. Subsequent inches help, but aren’t quite that effective.
- Stick a thermometer in your fridge.
Ideally, the temperature in your refrigerator holds pretty steady around 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (3-5 C). We keep ours at almost exactly 38, and it’s almost perfect for us.
If you keep it below 37 degrees, you’re pushing up against the freezing point of water, which can affect food quality and burns a lot of extra energy. If you keep it above 40 degrees, it can affect food quality in a different way, leading towards spoilage. The range between the two is optimal – and it’s also optimal for refrigerator efficiency, since devices are designed to run in this range.
How can you be sure you’re hitting that sweet spot? Get out a thermometer, put it in a glass of water, then put that cup in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Check the temperature afterward – that’s the true temperature of your fridge. Adjust upward and downward as needed – you might be surprised how much your temperature is off.
A freezer has a different optimum temperature – 0 to 5 F (-18 to -15 C). You can get this temperature by putting your thermometer between two frozen items for 24 hours.
- Chuck your old leftovers.
Ah, the refrigerated leftover. Inevitably, some of those items wind up getting pushed to the back and forgotten, left there to slowly decompose, become a potential breeding place for yeasts and molds, and potentially contaminate other foods.
So chuck ’em. One easy way to do this is to have a handful of washable markers near your fridge. Doodle on any new item with a color for each day – say, purple for Monday, red for Tuesday, etc. Then, when you’re glancing in the fridge on Sunday, you know you can chuck anything with a red or purple mark on it without thinking at all.
Just mark on the Saran wrap, aluminum foil – even on the rim of a plate. Once you get into the routine, it works really well, makes leftover cleanup really easy, and keeps nasty things from growing in your fridge.