This weekend, I broke down and cleaned the refrigerator. The condiment shelves alone took a half-hour, because of a combination of leaky bottles and cold temperatures. I used a rag and some Seventh Generation spray cleaner, but because the cold air sucks moisture from the spills, they were condensed and hardened and impossible.
There’s got to be a better way. Does anyone have good tips for a clean refrigerator to share in the comments? How often do you clean your refrigerator, or do you just religiously clean messes as they happen?
I would normally just sic ’em with some Bar Keepers Friend or Bonami, but not around my food. See other things to avoid (lifted from a major manufacturer’s site):
Do not use abrasive or harsh cleaners such as window sprays, scouring cleansers, flammable fluids, cleaning waxes, concentrated detergents, bleaches or cleansers containing petroleum products on plastic parts, interior and door liners, or gaskets. Do not use paper towels, scouring pads, or other harsh cleaning tools.
Here’s a true Frequently Asked Question, pulled from the “I used to answer phones at the store” file.
I’ve fielded many calls inquiring if it’s OK to put a refrigerator on its side when moving it. Certainly, the manufacturers don’t recommend it. But sometimes it’s necessary, right?
So, when you can’t transport your fridge upright, GE suggests laying your top-freezer refrigerator or bottom-freezer refrigerator on the side opposite the hinges, so the door will remain closed. If you have a side-by-side fridge, place it freezer-side down (that door is less likely to come open).
When you bring the fridge inside its new home, keep it unplugged and upright for the same amount of time it spent on its side. If the refrigerator spend more than a day on its side, let it stand for 24 hours before plugging it in.
Also, GE suggests wheeling the refrigerator on its side when using a dolly to avoid damage to the front or rear of the unit.
And please, remove all the racks and cover your beautiful Warners’ Stellian refrigerator with a moving blanket. We love appliances too much so see you damage them on accident.
Your refrigerator likely comes set at the factory-recommended temperature, probably a “mid-setting,” but what is that?
If you set the temperature too low, your food will freeze. Set it too high, however, and your food will spoil quicker due to increased bacterial growth.
The recommended temperature for your refrigerator ranges from 35 degrees to 38 degrees.
I keep my refrigerator at 37 degrees and try to keep it stocked well with food, because — believe it or not — a fully stocked fridge holds its temperature better than one with a couple condiment bottles in the door.
But the best test for your refrigerator’s temperature is a beverage. If you don’t like the temperature of your beverage, adjust the fridge. If you think your refrigerator is too cold, increase the temperature by 1 degree and allow 24 hours for the compartment to adjust. Obviously, do the opposite if you think your refrigerator is too warm.
To ensure proper temperatures, air has to be able to flow between the refrigerator and freezer sections.
As shown in the super sweet illustration, cool air from the refrigerator enters through the bottom of the freezer section and moves upward. Most of the air then flows through the freezer section vents and recirculates under the freezer floor. The rest of the air enters the refrigerator section through the top vent and flows down the back of the refrigerator compartment.
Make sure the air vents aren’t blocked by some errant food thing. Otherwise, it might block the flow of air to the refrigerator, which in turn causes temperature and moisture problems and melty ice cream, etc.
Also (word to the wise), last time my refrigerator was too warm — and I had cranked it up to the coldest setting — I (my dad) finally popped off my kick-plate to find a veritable lint blanket.
Lesson: if your refrigerator can’t exhaust properly, it can’t cool properly. So, vacuum the condenser every three months!
If your refrigerator dispenses water, chances are it uses a filter.
Most manufacturers recommend replacing the filter every six months to nine months, but certainly your fridge won’t blow up if you don’t. You might just drink some stanky water or notice a “decreased flow.” Or your ice maker won’t function as well.
Or you could just replace your filter when your status indicator light (or “change filter” light, as many customers call it) tells you to. Usually, this light lives on the temperature control panel. If you don’t have a change filter light, replace the filter based on the time frame recommendations outlined in the Use & Care manual you tucked away for safekeeping because you’re a responsible appliance owner.
Mostly, just use good sense, as the life of the filter depends on your usage and the quality of the water. If you notice a change in your water, replace your filter more frequently.
Many of you don’t know this, but I used to be somewhat of a water filter whisperer back in my Warners’ Stellian receptionist heyday. Customers never remember what the heck brand their fridge is when they come in for a replacement filter — not that I judged them. Picking up a replacement water filter falls under the “lost bet to spouse” level of fun errands. (On a related note, we offer free shipping on accessories totaling more than $50.)
I could generally qualify someone based on sketchy info, but not all receptionists possess such amazing skills, so do your homework. And even if you know your brand of refrigerator, it’s important to look at the filter itself as some brands make several types. Here’s how you replace your refrigerator water filter:
For the filters like the one picture above left, rotate the cap counterclockwise until its vertical pull the cap and filter cartridge out through the base grille. Push the new filter cartridge into the base grille until it stops with the cap in the vertical position. Rotate the cartridge cap clockwise to a horizontal position.
For the filters like those on the above right, press the eject button and pull the cap straight out. Don’t twist the cap or it will detach from the filter, and you’ll have to put the cap back on and try again the way I told you to in the first place. Got it? OK. Push the new filter into the opening in the base grille. The button will pop out when the filter is in place, but give the cap a tug to make sure.
This kind of filter, found in the upper right corner inside the refrigerator, is pretty easy to replace. Just turn the filter counterclockwise until it come out, drain it into the sink and trash it. Next, remove the seal from the new filter, insert the filter into the filter head and turn it clockwise until it stops. Easy.
This filter to the right often sits in the back right of the fridge.
To remove, turn the water filter 90 degrees counterclockwise (aka your left) until the filter releases. Take all the packaging crap off the new one, push it up into the housing and turn 90 degrees to the right. (Here’s where the directions include “close the door,” but I figure you can make that decision on your own.)
Once you replace the filter, make sure you flush air from the water system, otherwise you’re going to have a drippy dispenser in your kitchen driving you absolutely nuts. Watch this fun video or follow these directions:
Hold a container to the water dispenser lever for 5 seconds, and then release it for 5 seconds. Repeat until water comes out. Continue holding and releasing the dispenser lever (5 seconds on, 5 seconds off) until a total of 4 gallons has been dispensed. You might get a little spurting as the air clears out, so beware.
Can’t get to the store for a new filter? You can still remove and use the water dispenser in bypass mode. You just won’t have filtered water.