This past week, I noticed an unpleasant odor coming from our refrigerator every time I opened the door. Admittedly my sense of smell is much more sensitive than Alex's, but even after a few days he began to notice it too. I moved items around, checked the milk, and looked for rotten vegetables, but came up empty handed. I was at a bit of a loss as to the source of the smell, so after a night of celebrating a friend's birthday into the wee hours, I woke up on Saturday morning and, still in my pajamas, groggily ventured downstairs to resolve this lingering odor once and for all. The fridge stank was goin' down. (It also helped to know that my in laws are coming this week, so I used that to act as a little extra motivation.)
The refrigerator I started with was relatively full of items largely consisting of condiments and beer.
I suppose by week's end we had eaten most of the meals we had prepared and were left with the items we don't consume on a regular basis (at least that's what I'm going to tell myself).
In hopes of easily eliminating the odor by tossing some rotten jarred or canned good, I started by removing all of the items in the refrigerator, sorting them into keep and discard piles. If something was expired, looked suspect, or I had no recollection of the last time we'd used it, it went into the discard pile. Judging from the number of expired dressings, I think we're not eating enough salad in our house.
With all of the items removed, I had a clear picture of how thoroughly disgusting our refrigerator was. I was tiptoeing the line that bordered on a bad episode of Hoarders, particularly when I noticed the gag-inducing grime that had accumulated underneath the lower glass shelf. If you're squeamish...look away.
...as well as a nauseating sticky film that coated an upper shelf.
How thoroughly grossed out are you right now? As a self professed neat freak, I'm mortified that such filth existed in our home. I'm actually so shocked and grossed out by it that I've decided to share it with the whole Internet. Cleaning out the refrigerator is something we do an a semi annual basis, but clearly we've let this chore go unchecked too long.
No wanting to risk the chance that the sludge might animate and morph into the Toxic Avenger, I donned rubber gloves and started to scrub the shelves within an inch of their lives.
I removed all of the items that could be taken out of the fridge, such as the plastic door shelves, proceeded to let them soak, and then washed them with warm, soapy water.
After scrubbing, wiping, soaking, and more scrubbing, the inside of the refrigerator now looked like this.
Remember the gross grime on the lower shelf? Gone!
The entire cleaning process took about an hour, but loading the contents back in was a snap. Here's a look at the end result. It's clean, organized, and scuzz free.
The condiments are better organized, and we even have extra room on the door!
And in case you're wondering what item was causing the stench in the fridge, it was the leftover black beans in a glass storage container. (Thanks to my dear husband for taking care of disposing those bad boys so I didn't have to revisit what I ate for dinner last night. I'm telling you, I have a gag reflex like no other!)
Even though it was really embarrassing to share my disgusting refrigerator with you all, I'm happy to say I'm one step closer to checking off "do a thorough purge of our closets and drawers" from our New Year's Resolutions List for 2012. (I know, organizing kitchen cabinets or a refrigerator isn't exactly a closet or drawer, but it's the same basic idea if you think of it as a climate controlled closet for our food.)
I'm sure I can't be alone in putting off cleaning an area or appliance. What's the dirty little secret in your home? I promise I won't tell.