Without regular cleaning, mold and mildew begin to grow on the food stored inside a refrigerator. Over time, this growth spreads to the surfaces of the refrigerator itself. Mold causes an allergic reaction in some people and illness in others, according to Good Housekeeping.
A neglected refrigerator is not hopeless. The first step to cleaning is removing all items from both the refrigerator and freezer. Any expired food requires disposal. This is a good time to check condiments and other packages for expiration dates and leaks. To expedite cleaning, Good Housekeeping recommends removing all shelves, drawers and parts. Soaking these parts in a vinegar solution helps clean any stuck on food.
Undiluted distilled white vinegar is a good cleaning agent for inside the refrigerator and freezer. The vinegar is a natural mold killer. A toothbrush is good for scrubbing any stuck food, corners and crevasses of the refrigerator. Rinsing with plain water helps remove the vinegar odor, and a wipe with a baking soda rinse eliminates any remaining food or mold odors from the refrigerator.
Consumers who want to improve safety of the food in their refrigerator find following the same rules as commercial establishments to be helpful. This includes labeling everything in the refrigerator as it is opened and observing expiration dates. Such practices offer an economical way to reduce food waste due to spoilage, according to Ecolab.