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Clean, recycle your refrigerator

May 14, 2012
Are you planning spring cleaning? , The Daily News

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development stresses the importance of frequently cleaning your refrigerator.

"Clean kitchens, including work surfaces, sinks and refrigerators, are an important first step toward preventing foodborne illness," said Kevin Besey, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Food and Dairy Division Director.

"Spring is the perfect time to clean out your refrigerator," Besey said.

Many refrigerators and freezers on the market today do not require defrosting, but there are some older units in homes that still require periodic defrosting.

When refrigerators or freezers have been turned off, it is important to keep frozen foods from thawing and refrigerated foods cold.

To do this, use a cooler with a cold pack inside and cover it with a blanket for insulation.

Refrain from using objects that could damage the inner lining of your freezer such as an ice pick, knife, sharp objects, or an electrical heating device to remove ice.

Dispose of all perishable items that should not be eaten.

A general guideline is throw away raw poultry and ground meats after one to two days and cooked leftovers after four days.

When cleaning, follow the manufacturer's guidelines to prevent damage to the interior finish of your refrigerator, but avoid using solvent cleaning agents, abrasives, and cleansers that may add a chemical taste to foods or ice cubes.

Clean the exterior of the refrigerator with a soft cloth and a mild dishwashing detergent, cleansers, and polishes for appliances.

The condenser underneath the front grill should be vacuumed several times throughout the year and the front grill should be free of dust and lint.

Place an opened box of baking soda on a shelf to eliminate odors and keep the refrigerator smelling fresh. If food has spoiled in the refrigerator, odors can be removed by the followings procedure (these steps may need to be repeated):

- Wipe the inside with equal parts of vinegar and water.

- Wash the inside with a water and baking soda solution; scrub gaskets, shelves, door, and sides. Allow the refrigerator to air out for several days.

- Stuff the refrigerator with rolled newspapers and close the door for several days. Remove the paper and clean with vinegar and water.

- In the bottom of the refrigerator, sprinkle coffee grounds on a shelf or place them in an open container.

- Soak a cotton swab with vanilla and place in the freezer for 24 hours with the door closed.

- Purchase a commercial cleanser from a hardware or housewares store and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Maintain the cleanliness of the refrigerator by wiping up spills immediately and cleaning surfaces with hot, soapy water; then rinsing.

Get in the habit of throwing out perishable food items once a week.

If you're tired of cleaning your old refrigerator, and want a new one, you're in luck.

Participating Upper Peninsula utilities are offering customers a rebate of $30 to have old refrigerators and freezers hauled away this week.

Energy customers can save up to $150 per year on future electricity costs by recycling their old units, experts say.

"If your spring cleaning plans include de-cluttering your garage or basement, getting rid of an old refrigerator frees up space and saves you money in the long run," said Michael Dunham, director of energy and environmental programs for JACO Environmental, the company that handles the recycling process for the Michigan programs.

To schedule a free pick-up of an old refrigerator or freezer call 1-877-270-3519.

Pickups occur all this week through Saturday. In order for refrigerators and freezers to be eligible for recycling, they must be in working order and have 10 cubic feet or more of storage capacity.

There will also be two refrigerator recycling drop-off locations on Saturday, May 19, at 2200 Wright Street in Marquette, and 800 Industrial Park Drive, Iron Mountain for U.P residents who are not able to schedule an appointment during pick-up week.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Two appliances per residential address will be accepted.

National appliance recycler, JACO Environmental, will pick up your old refrigerator at your home and transport it to a Michigan de-manufacturing facility.

There, toxins, such as mercury and oils that would otherwise contaminate soil and groundwater if not properly recycled, are safely removed from the old unit.

"Simply put, recycling your old fridge or freezer is the right thing to do. With this Refrigerator Recycling program, you receive $30, benefit from free home pick-up and gain more usable space in your home," said Dunham.



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