Mundane task yields forgotten, edible loot

#539 in a series of true experiences in real estate
August 2007, Hills Newspapers

This is how I clean my refrigerator. First I take accumulated papers and magnets off the outside front and toss them or move them to the refrigerator side. I wash and wipe the outside using a magic eraser for dark smudges on the handles, and I wipe and brush cat hair and dust from the grill at the bottom.

Now I open the door and prop it with a stool so it doesn’t keep closing on me, and I take everything off the main shelves. Milk, beer, cottage cheese, watermelon, jars of pickles. Every time I do this I try to get the inside clean without having to take out the shelves but trying to get splatters off the undersides of the glass isn’t easy and involves awkwardly kneeling on the floor while ducking and reaching. I always end up removing them to wash in the sink.

The shelves are tempered glass so they won’t shatter; still, they’re large, too large for the sink and I don’t want to drop one, so I grasp firmly, leaning an edge on the counter and wash, then turn on the faucet and rinse with warm, not hot, water. I try to slope the shelves toward the sink but water runs onto the counter, down the front of the sink and onto the floor.

I get out a lot of dish towels and wipe the shelf I’m working on and set it aside before starting on the next. Bottles and food are on the kitchen table, clean shelves on the counters and stove top, and I’ve run out of room. I go back to the refrigerator, take out the crisper drawers and stack them in the sink. Then damp-wipe the inside of the refrigerator. I haven’t touched the door yet and all the relish, jams and mustards in the little bins.

I get the shelves back in after a couple of tries at figuring out how the hooks at the back go into small holes and snap snug. I’m bored now and need a change of pace, so I look at what I’ve taken out of the refrigerator and put on the table. Not much actual food, and only one plate of chicken that was cooked. Pretty much everything else is available to cook in case I get to it, or could accompany new food I might bring home.

This latest refrigerator cleaning, done just today, took an hour and a half, probably typical, and did include emptying all the bins on the door, washing and refilling them. I found a fresh cauliflower I’d forgotten I bought and was inspired to cook and eat. That surprised me; I haven’t cooked and eaten cauliflower in years. Another surprise: the green onions and celery are still ok and can be used for tuna salad if I just remember to make it.

I was reminded that there is still most of a jar of superb apricot jam. And a bunch of tiny cream cheeses, the individual size served by hotel room service. These so charmed me at Costco one day that I bought them, all 6 dozen or so, then put them in the meat keeper and forgot.

I threw away a few jars of old salsa and sour cream, and the refrigerator does look nice. I didn’t try to clean out the freezer, a project at least as large as the refrigerator and even more uninteresting. One reason it takes as long as it does to clean a refrigerator is because there are so many surfaces and lots of grooves for spills and drips to run to. But it is easier than it was in the old days when, I remember, we placed shallow baking pans of hot water under the freezer section to melt the ice, then used ice picks to speed things along. We had to cover almost the whole kitchen floor with towels to sop up all the resultant water.

Probably most people don’t enjoy cleaning the fridge, and mostly, as a routine matter, they don’t. When they move, if they can, they hire someone else to do it. The cleaning people we’ve known don’t seem to mind. They’d rather, they’ve mentioned, do refrigerators than stoves, especially ovens, which is certainly understandable.

Once we had a refrigerator hauled from a listing rather than pay to have it cleaned. It was an extreme case though. The owner had died a couple of years before and no one had thought to clear out the refrigerator. It was black inside, and bad.

If you would like to recycle your refrigerator, you can get $35 for it as part of a program for P.G. & E. Customers. The refrigerator or freezer must be at least 10 cubic feet in size and it has to be plugged in and running when it is picked up. Call 800-299-7573 to schedule.

This entry was posted in Home Life & Home Maintenance. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: