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Natural Year Challenge: Household - Month Six

Clean Your RefrigeratorRefrigerator

As our Natural Year Challenge continues, we turn our attention to safe food storage.

It isn't easy to keep the refrigerator clean and organized. Keeping its contents fresh is also a challenge. Moldy food, however, is one of the most common ways we can be exposed to harmful toxins, so proper management of this appliance is well worth our time and energy. Here are some suggestions for keeping your refrigerator and its contents clean, organized, and fresh!


Clean

  1. Vacuum refrigerator coils periodically. Vacuum under and behind the fridge to help keep it running efficiently.
  2. Clean inside surfaces with white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. The use of harsh chemicals can emit harmful vapors, which easily seep into food. When deep-cleaning your refrigerator, use both vinegar and peroxide. For ease of application, make a spray bottle of each.
    • White vinegar: Can be diluted or used full strength.
    • Hydrogen peroxide: Can be diluted 1 part 3% peroxide to 6 parts water. A darker spray bottle is best for peroxide as it is light-sensitive.

    Spray white vinegar and follow with peroxide. No rinsing is needed, and the combination sanitizes well.

    Vinegar of the Four Thieves is an excellent disinfectant and may be used as an alternative for the white vinegar. See our Naturally Healthy Bathroom article for the recipe and how-to video.

  3. Clean as you go. Keep your vinegar nearby. Wipe down shelves and drawers as they are emptied. Place plates or bowls beneath meats that are thawing, to prevent drips.
  4. Keep your fridge smelling clean. Absorb odors with an open box of baking soda, an open container filled with coffee grounds, or a zeolite bag.

Organized

  1. Buy only what you will eat. Try not to "overbuy."
  2. Don't open a new jar until the old one is empty. Keep perishable/half-filled jars in the front of the refrigerator to avoid "losing" them in the back.
  3. Be willing to throw away. If a food doesn't look or smell right, toss it!
  4. Label. Keep a grease pencil on hand. Transfer leftovers to a mason jar. Cap with white plastic lid and mark contents and/or date. If you prefer avoiding plastic altogether, label with masking tape and pen.

Fresh

  1. Side compartments. Those handy shelves on the door are the warmest spots in the fridge. With all of the opening and closing, stable foods such as condiments and dressings work best in these locations.
  2. Crispers. Crisper drawers help keep fruits and vegetables fresh by controlling the level of humidity. Vegetables dry out easily, and the crisper helps by keeping water vapor in. Fruits often require a lower humidity level than vegetables, so if you have two drawers, keep fruits in one, vegetables in another. Fruit also emits ethylene gas as part of the ripening process, which can discolor or prematurely harden vegetables if stored together. If your refrigerator is equipped with individual controls for each crisper, adjust accordingly.
  3. Fruit storage. Once ripened, fresh fruit is best stored in the refrigerator. This includes bananas. According to this Purdue University article, apples are best stored in produce bags with some holes or perforations to allow air circulation and avoid excess moisture buildup. Sort through fruits such as berries before storing, discarding any spoiled ones. Leave stems on strawberries and do not wash in advance. Store in a colander lined with paper towel to allow cold air in refrigerator to circulate. For more on fruit storage, see this article.
  4. Vegetable storage. Some vegetables are best left at room temperature, while others do better in a cooler, drier environment. The following list offers some specific guidelines.
    • Asparagus: 7-10 days. Break off ends and stand upright in 1 inch water.
    • Beets: 3 weeks.
    • Broccoli: Heads keep up to 7 days.
    • Brussels sprouts: 7-10 days. Remove any discolored leaves and wash before use.
    • Cabbage: Several weeks in crisper.
    • Carrots: Up to 4 weeks in crisper.
    • Cauliflower: Up to 1 week.
    • Celery: Up to 10 days. Revive by placing in water.
    • Cucumber: 7-10 days. Discard if flesh turns soft and/or translucent.
    • Garlic: Keep in dry, airy location.
    • Leeks: 7-10 days.
    • Lettuce: 7-10 days in crisper.
    • Onions: Cool, dry place in open-weave mesh for air circulation. Up to 2 weeks.
    • Peas: Keep for only a short time. Best prepared and eaten quickly.
    • Peppers: Up to 1 week.
    • Potatoes: Cool, dark place with good air circulation. Check for rotting skin and discard before it contaminates others.
    • Radishes: 7-10 days in crisper.
    • Snow peas: A few days.
    • Spinach: Up to 1 week. Best if used sooner.
    • Squash: Up to 1 week in refrigerator. Do not wash or brush skin until ready to use.
    • Swiss chard: Up to 2 weeks.
    • Turnips: Can be stored in or out of refrigerator.

Keeping the refrigerator clean and well-organized can be a challenge, especially with a large family.
Join Andrea for a look at what works for the Fabry household!

Quotes

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

Dedication