Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cleaning the Refrigerator

Cleaning out the refrigerator is never a fun chore.  It actually might be my least favorite.  If I cleaned it out every week it wouldn't be so bad, but I don't.  After a while, gross leftovers sit and get moldy, and then I finally clean it out and am totally grossed out by the things that have been lurking in the dark corners of my fridge for weeks.

Today I had to clean out the refrigerator.  I thought to myself, "This would make a great Vintage Housewife post."  After all, women in the fifties had refrigerators, so obviously they had to clean them out.  I figured there was a technique to it, and I was right!  I found a whole section about it in one of my homemaking books (this one was from 1961).

First of all, the book reminds me to clean out my refrigerator frequently in order to allow for better cold air circulation.  If it is all cluttered up, the cold air can't get to all of the food evenly.  Ummm...oops.  From now on, I promise to clean out my refrigerator frequently.  Scout's honor.  Okay, moving on...

The book says that before cleaning, I need to be sure to unplug the refrigerator.  What?  I've never unplugged a refrigerator!  I don't even know how to do that!  The plug is behind the refrigerator, and I'd have to pull the refrigerator away from the wall in order to be able to unplug it. I think I'm going to have to skip this step.  I hope it doesn't make too big of a difference.

Next the book tells me to make sure I'm keeping the evaporator defrosted and to clean out the moisture collector box.  This needs to be done at least once a week.

I've lived in this apartment for two years, and I've never cleaned out the "moisture collector box."  I have also never checked to make sure that my evaporator is defrosted.  I don't even know what that is.  Do I have one of those?  Do you have one of those?  I looked all over my refrigerator and freezer, but I couldn't find one.  I'm going to guess that somewhere between 1961 and 2013, they stopped using those. I hope so, anyway. otherwise my moisture collector is probably really dirty.

So far I haven't done a single thing that the book tells me to do.  The third step is to make sure that the temperature is set correctly.  It should be set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Well, I looked all over my refrigerator, and there is nowhere to set the temperature.  There are "levels" to set the temperature, but those range from 0-6 with no indication as to what the corresponding temperatures are.  With no other ideas, I stuck a thermometer in there (the kind you use if you have a fever) to try to see what the temperature of the air was. The only reading I could get was "LO."  I guess the thermometer doesn't go down that far.  I put my hand in the refrigerator and estimated that it feels about....40 degrees.  Perfect.  ;-)

The next step was one I could do - clean the shelves and the sides with a warm water/borax mix.  I couldn't believe that I actually had borax, but I did!  I used it in an experiment for fifth grade the other day, and I had no idea what it was before then.  Ha ha.  Apparently it's a great kitchen cleaning agent.

The book didn't say anything about throwing away the old moldy food, but I guess they just considered that to be a "duh," factor about cleaning out your refrigerator.  Or perhaps they did it so often that it wasn't a huge consideration.

This is the first day that I'm glad I'm not a real fifties housewife.  I really hate cleaning refrigerators, and theirs took a lot more maintenance than mine does.  I guess I should stop complaining.


  1. OMG I totally relate...and cracked up when you were looking for the moisture box. Dang fridges and their collection of foods. Clean yourselves out!

  2. I hate cleaning out my refrigerator too, but since I live alone, it never gets *that* bad. I should probably actually scrub it at some point... Although I've only lived here since December, and it was sparkling when I moved in. I doubt it's acquired much grime yet.

    Yes, modern conveniences are very nice!