If you only think to clean your refrigerator after knocking over a poorly capped jar of salsa, I don’t think you’re going to very excited about this story. Not only am I going to tell you about cleaning, I’m going to talk about about cleaning your refrigerator drawers. I know, no one really ever has to look at refrigerator drawers, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Cleaning is annoying, we all know it. However, deep down, we also know it’s not as bad to clean your refrigerator drawers every three months or so than to wait two years only to discover patches of sticky and strange-smelling spills or things that squish. As everyone treats their own refrigerator drawers differently (read: I currently have separate drawers for vegetables, fruit, and cheese, while the refrigerator drawers in my last apartment could contain anything my roommates’ rotting leftover deli sandwich to slimy onions to six-week-old ground beef) cleaning your refrigerator drawers can take as little as 15 minutes from start to finish or, well, longer.

First things first, remove all drawers from the fridge and empty them. Throw out or compost anything that doesn’t smell or look like it was recently a food item. Stash fresh food in other areas of the fridge if you have room, or toss them in a cooler. This process won’t take so long that your food will begin to spoil, but it’s always best to keep things that have already been refrigerated in their cold state. Scrape off any wrappers, onion skins, and leafy green pieces that have adhered themselves to the drawers, rinse the drawers well with hot water, then wash with dish soap and a scrubby sponge. If you live in a small space and the drawers can’t fit in your sink, you’re going to have to relocate to the bathtub. Lay out a large towel and let the drawers air dry.

Mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water in a spray bottle or grab a bottle of natural kitchen spray. Spritz the floor and walls of the fridge that are typically covered by the drawers, scrub well with a sponge, then dry well. If the tracks where the drawers slide in are at all dirty, grab a clean toothbrush, douse it in the vinegar cleanser and go to town. In the name of all that is holy, throw out this toothbrush when you’ve finished. 

When fully dry, refill the drawers with any food deemed fresh enough to eat another day and put the drawers back in the fridge. Pat yourself on the back, you did some good cleaning today.