15 Tips for a Squeaky Clean Fridge


Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner preparations, November 15 marks official Clean Your Refrigerator Day. While not a national holiday, it should be one, because let’s face it—your fridge is gross. It’s okay, everyone’s fridge is a little bit gross, and no matter how bad things are inside your icebox, they can always be cleaned.

And what better way to clean out the inside of where all your delicious food rests before your consumption than with a few wacky and offbeat tips you might not have cooked up on your own? Let’s chow down and get cracking. 

1. Pre-Clean Dirty Culprits

Sure, it might seem like a no-brainer for most of us to clean up things after they spill or leak in the fridge (think bad milk cartons, sticky condiment bottles, poorly designed takeout boxes), but what if you cleaned those things before they had a chance to mess your fridge shelves? That’s right—pre-cleaning is sometimes actually the best way to clean. Give everything that could turn on you a good wipe-down before sticking it in the fridge, from jam jars to ketchup bottles to oily dressing containers. 

2. Keep Things That Go Bad Easily Where You Can See Them

Not all messy stuff can be fixed with a pre-clean; some stuff just has to bust out its grossness in its own good time. That’s right, it’s time for another pre-cleaning tip, but trust us, it will all be worth it once you’re up to your ears in actual cleaning elbow grease. It’s inevitable that some items in your fridge are going to cause a mess at some point in time—rotting veggies, bad meat, all that smelly stuff—so keep them where you can see them, so it won’t come as a horrible surprise when your kale or hamburger or strawberries go bad and you don’t discover the horror until weeks later. Don’t be afraid of that crisper drawer, it’s easy to peek into for a reason.

3. Put Dates on Stuff

If it’s not obvious by now, the weirdest way to clean your fridge is to pre-clean it, or at least get it primed for best cleaning practices. The biggest villain in the fridge will always be the spoiled stuff that is there way past its prime—hello leaks, spills, and bad smells. But what if your pre-wipes and sightline tricks don’t work? Date things. Date everything! Stick a marker next to your fridge and use it to mark down the date an item enters your icebox so that when you’re wondering just how long that dried-out pizza has been there, you have an answer. (You can also use masking tape and a pen if you don’t want to write directly on things.) And then you have no excuse for not tossing it post-haste. 

4. Use that Baking Soda...

Chances are you’re familiar with the concept of leaving an opened box of baking soda inside your fridge to trap bad smells, but do you know how to accelerate that process if something smelly gets by that handy box? It’s easy enough—just spread out some of your baking soda on a baking sheet or dinner plate and place in the middle of your fridge. It can stay put until the odor is gone.

5. ...And Kick It Up With Coffee

Does your bad-smelling fridge need more than baking soda can provide? (We’re not judging.) Add some fresh coffee grounds to your baking soda tray and let them work their magic. There will be a coffee scent for a bit, but that too will fade away, just like whatever gross thing is plaguing your fridge.

6. Clean the Edges

While it’s not as obvious as cleaning shelves and bins, cleaning the edges of your fridge (where the doors seal up against the icebox) is infinitely more satisfying. It’s also really gross, mainly because most people don’t even think about the gunk that collects there (Got pets? Get ready to find plenty of pet hair lodged in there). Give the edges a wipe every few weeks to keep it at bay—use hot water and a touch of white vinegar on a rag to really make that thing pop. Then wash that rag. Maybe a lot. 

6. Power Off

If it’s finally time to get down to business with actual, hardcore, hands-on fridge cleaning, there’s one little thing you might want to do that you’ve most likely never thought of. Turn the fridge off. Unplug it. Why? Your power consumption will thank you, because you’re going to have that thing open for a quite a long time once actual cleaning commences.

7. Throw Out

You can do it. Check those dates, be honest about what is still good and what you’re going to eat, and toss out anything that doesn’t make the cut (or seems too gross to actually eat at any point in the future). Work your way from top to bottom, fridge first, then pop that freezer open and go to work there. (Close it quick! Remember your fridge isn’t running!) 

8. Keep It Cold

You’ll surely still have some food that’s fit to eat after the clean out, right? Keep it snug in an icy cooler or, if you’re cooler-less or just prone to the makeshift, throw some ice into a big mixing bowl or salad bowl and let your still-good items chill out on top. 

9. Remove Your Drawers

That’s right—take those drawers right out. Give them a loving scrub with a classic mix of warm water and soap (sometimes the best tips are the most obvious). Really need to get them clean? White vinegar again. With this one, go one-half water and one-half white vinegar. Your drawers are going to sparkle. 

10. Take It Inside

Now is the time to clean your (now naked and empty!) icebox. Feel free to use the white vinegar solution, or turn back to baking soda, the refrigerator’s all-star. There’s no need to break out harsh, chemical-laden cleaning products that could get too close to your food—just mix up two tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of hot water. Use your clean rag pal to get in there with your new favorite cleaning mix. Dry off everything with a clean, dry rag or a couple of paper towels. Put everything back in! (Crucial step!) 

11. Take It Inside, An Alternate Method

Used all your baking soda to soak up smells? You can use salt, water, and lemon for an equally safe (and easy) cleaning solution. Dissolve an entire cup of household salt into a gallon of hot water, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and get to cleaning. 

12. Clean Exteriors

The inside of the fridge is just the tip of the iceberg. For maximum fridge cleanliness, you’ve got to hit the exterior, too. Of course, this is all taking place very close to your foodstuffs so, again, let’s stay away from chemical cleaning agents. Do you happen to have any of that white vinegar mix hanging around? You do? Take it to the front of your fridge by way of another clean rag (heads up—clean rags are your friends) to clean and shine up your doors and sides. Have a stainless steel fridge? Rest assured, you can still use the white vinegar mix on it. 

13. Meet Your Drip Pan

So you’ve cleaned the inside and outside of your fridge, have been vigilant about keeping things fresh and dated and spill-proof—what could possibly be left to do? Meet your drip pan. Not every fridge has one, but if yours does, giving it a clean may actually alter your life (it will at least horrify you the first time you do it).

You can locate the drip pan by removing the grill from bottom of your fridge (down below the door) and using a flashlight to find it. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s made to be pulled out, so get some gloves on, remove it, and clean the heck out of it. For this one, we’ll allow the use of bleach—even white vinegar can’t fix everything.

14. Meet the Coils

Let’s be honest—you’ve never thought about the back of your fridge, have you? The closest most of us have gotten to that particular side of our icebox is that episode of Friends where Joey sees the back of his fridge for the first time and promptly yanks off the coil backing. Don’t do that! Love those coils! (And, by love, we mean gently vacuum them every few months or so.) Your fridge will work better and you’ll feel great pride in being the only person you know who has actually cleaned the back of their fridge. It’s wacky, but it works. 

15. Be Lazy

If working your way through ten-plus steps to a sparkling fridge sounds like madness to you, there are a few ways to wing it (and that’s okay, too). One way to avoid having to wipe down the shelves on a consistent basis is to line your shelves with plastic wrap or cling wrap. Once things get really bad in there, just yank up the wrap and put in a fresh layer. 

Kerry Hayes, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures
10 Monster Facts About Pacific Rim
Kerry Hayes, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures
Kerry Hayes, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures

Legendary Pictures took a gamble on Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 monster/robot slugfest. Since it wasn’t based on a preexisting franchise, it lacked a built-in fanbase. That can be a serious drawback in our current age of blockbuster remakes and reboots. The movie underperformed domestically; in America, it grossed just over $100 million against its $180 million budget. Yet Pacific Rim was a huge hit overseas and acquired enough fans to earn itself a sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising, which arrives in theaters this week. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the movie that started it all.


Idris Elba in 'Pacific Rim' (2013)
Warner Bros.

One foggy day in 2007, Beacham—who’d recently moved to California—was walking along Santa Monica Beach. As he looked out at the Ferris wheel on the city’s eponymous pier, he pictured a looming sea monster. Then he imagined an equally large robot gearing up to fight the beast. “They just sort of materialized out of the fog, these vast godlike things,” Beacham said. He decided to pursue the concept further after coming up with the idea of human co-pilots who’d need to operate their robot as a team, which added a new thematic dimension.

“I didn’t know I had something I wanted to write until I realized these robots are driven by two pilots, and what happens when one of those people dies? What happens to the leftovers? Then it became a story about loss, moving on after loss, and dealing with survivor’s guilt," Beacham said. "That made the monsters scarier because now you care about the people who are in these robots.”


Pacific Rim was picked up by Legendary Pictures and handed over to director Guillermo del Toro. A huge fan of monster cinema, del Toro enthusiastically co-wrote the final screenplay with Beacham. Sixteen concept artists were hired to sketch original robot and creature designs for the film. “We would get together every day like kids and draw all day,” del Toro told the New York Daily News. “We designed about a hundred Kaijus and about a hundred Jaegers and every week we would do an American Idol and we would vote [some of] them out.”


In “Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats,” the tenth episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's sixth season, Charlie Day’s character gives us a darkly comedic monologue about rodent extermination. Little did the actor know that the performance would open a big opportunity for him. Impressed by the rat speech, del Toro offered Day the part of Dr. Newton Geizler, Pacific Rim’s socially-inept kaiju expert. “He said to himself, ‘That’s my guy. That guy should be in my next movie because if he killed rats, he can kill the monster,’” Day recalled during an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. On the movie set, del Toro often joked about how much he enjoys It’s Always Sunny. As a way of repaying his director, Day helped get del Toro a minor role in the series.


Most of the film’s special effects were computer-generated, but not everything was digital. For the robot cockpit scenes, del Toro had his team build the interior of a full-scale Jaeger head. The finished product stood four stories tall and weighed 20 tons. And like a Tilt-A-Whirl from hell, it was designed to rock around violently on its platform via a network of hydraulics. Once inside, the actors were forced to don 40-pound suits of armor. Then the crew strapped their feet into an apparatus that Charlie Hunnam has compared to a high-resistance elliptical machine.

Certain shots also required del Toro to dump gallons of water all over his exhausted, physically-strained stars. So yeah, the experience wasn’t much fun. “We saw every one of the actors break down on that set except for the female lead actress Rinko Kikuchi," del Toro said. "She’s the only actor that didn’t snap."


Del Toro wanted Gipsy Danger, his ‘bot, to have the self-confident air of a wild west gunslinger. To that end, he and concept artist Oscar Chichoni developed a swaggering gait that was based on John Wayne’s signature hip movements. The Jaeger’s Art Deco-like design was influenced by the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings.


Hailed as the “fortieth greatest guitarist of all time” by Rolling Stone, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello rocked the MTV generation with hits like “Bulls on Parade” and “Killing in the Name.” Pacific Rim bears his mark as well. The film’s lead composer was Ramin Djawadi, whose other works include the Game of Thrones theme. Wanting to add a “rock element” to the Pacific Rim soundtrack, he and del Toro reached out to Morello. The guitarist didn’t need much persuading.

“When they asked me to put some giant robot riffs and screaming underwater monster licks on the film score, I was all in,” Morello said. Djwadi was pleased with the rocker's contributions to the project. As he told the press: “Tom’s unique style and sounds really defined our robots.”


A definite highlight of this movie is Gipsy Danger’s duel with the winged kaiju Otachi in downtown Hong Kong. Both characters were computer-generated, as were the majority of the streets, cars, and towers in this epic sequence. However, there is one moment which was at least partly realized with practical effects. Gipsy punches through the wall of an office building early in the fight. We see her fist rip through a series of cubicles and gradually decelerate until it lightly taps a chair with just enough force to set off a Newton’s Cradle desktop toy. For that shot, effects artists at 32Ten Studios constructed a miniature office building interior featuring 1/4-scale desks, cubicles, and padded chairs. The level of detail here was amazing: 32Ten’s staff adorned each individual workspace with lamps, computers, wastebaskets, and teeny, tiny Post-it notes.


Rinko Kikuchi in 'Pacific Rim' (2013)
Kerry Hayes, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures

Audiences reacted strongly to Kikuchi’s character Mako Mori, who inspired an alternative to the famous Bechdel test. Some critics praised the culmination of her relationship with Raleigh Beckett (Hunnam). Although it’s common practice for the male and female leads in an action flick to end their movie with a smooch, Mori and Beckett share a platonic hug as Pacific Rim draws to a close. Del Toro revealed that he shot three different versions of that final scene. “We did one version where they kiss and it almost felt weird. They’re good friends, they’re pals, good colleagues,” del Toro said.


At the end of the credits, there’s a tribute that reads: “This film is dedicated to the memories of monster masters Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda.” Harryhausen passed away on May 7, 2013—two months before Pacific Rim’s release. A great stop-motion animator, he breathed life into such creatures as the towering Rhedosaurus in 1953’s The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.

Ishiro Honda was another giant of the kaiju genre, having directed Rodan, War of the Gargantuas, and numerous Godzilla films. Del Toro has great respect for both men. When Harryhausen died, the director said, “I lost a member of my family today, a man who was as present in my childhood as any of my relatives.” He also adores the Japanese monster classics and says he’d love to see a Pacific Rim-Godzilla crossover someday. Maybe it’ll happen.


If you’re not familiar with the practice of “Sweding,” let us fill you in: The 2008 comedy Be Kind, Rewind is about two co-workers at a VHS rental store who accidentally erase every tape in stock. Hoping to save their skins, they create ultra low-budget remakes of all the films they’ve destroyed using cardboard sets and cheap costumes. It’s a process these guys call “Sweding” as a ploy to convince everyone that their (unintentionally hilarious) knockoffs were produced in Sweden. Since Be Kind, Rewind was released, Sweding has become a legitimate art form.

When Pacific Rim’s first trailer debuted in 2013, YouTubers Brian Harley and Brodie Mash created a shot-for-shot, Sweded duplicate of the preview. Instead of state-of-the-art CG effects, their version used toy helicopters, duct-tape monster masks, and an ocean of packing peanuts—and del Toro loved it. At WonderCon 2013, he praised the video, saying that it inspired the editing used in Pacific Rim’s third trailer. Harley and Mash happened to be at the same gathering. When del Toro met the comedic duo, he exclaimed “I loved it! My daughters loved it, we watched it a bunch of times!” Then he invited the Sweding duo to attend Pacific Rim’s premiere in Hollywood.

5 Ways to Define a Sandwich, According to the Law

It’s easy to say what a sandwich is. Grilled cheese? Definitely a sandwich. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato? There’s no question. Things start to get messy when you specify what a sandwich isn’t. Is a hot dog a sandwich? What about a burrito, or an open-faced turkey melt?

The question of sandwich-hood sounds like something a monk might ponder on a mountaintop. But the answer has real-world implications. On several occasions, governments have ruled on the food industry’s right to use the delectable label. Now, Ruth Bader Ginsburg—pop culture icon, scrunchie connoisseur, and Supreme Court Justice—has weighed in on the matter.

When pressed on the hot-button issue as to whether a hot dog is a sandwich while appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Ginsburg proved her extreme judiciousness by throwing the question back at Colbert and asking for his definition of sandwich before making a ruling. Her summation? A hot dog fits Colbert's definition of a sandwich, and therefore can be considered one.

While RBG's ruling may not be an official one, it matches Merriam-Webster's bold declaration that a hot dog is a sandwich (even if the Hot Dog Council disagrees). Officially, here’s where the law stands on the great sandwich debate.


Hot dogs are often snagged in the center of the sandwich semantics drama. Despite fitting the description of a food product served on a bread-like product, many sandwich purists insist that hot dogs deserve their own category. California joins Merriam-Webster in declaring that a hot dog is a sandwich nonetheless. The bold word choice appears in the state’s tax law, which mentions “hot dog and hamburger sandwiches” served from “sandwich stands or booths.” Applying the sandwich label to burgers is less controversial, but it’s still worth debating.


When Qdoba threatened to encroach on the territory of a Panera Bread in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, the owners of the bakery franchise fought back. They claimed the Mexican chain’s arrival would violate their lease agreement with the White City Shopping Center—specifically the clause that prohibits the strip mall from renting to other sandwich restaurants. “We were surprised at the suit because we think it’s common sense that a burrito is not a sandwich,” Jeff Ackerman, owner of the Qdoba franchise group, told The Boston Globe.

The Worcester County Superior Court agreed. When the issue went before the court in 2006, Cambridge chef and food writer Christopher Schlesinger testified against Panera [PDF], saying, “I know of no chef or culinary historian who would call a burrito a sandwich. Indeed, the notion would be absurd to any credible chef or culinary historian.”

Justice Jeffrey A. Locke ruled that Qdoba would be allowed to move into the shopping center citing an entry in Merriam-Webster as the most damning evidence against Panera’s case. “The New Webster Third International Dictionary describes a ‘sandwich’ as ‘two thin pieces of bread, usually buttered, with a thin layer (as of meat, cheese, or savory mixture) spread between them,’” he said. “Under this definition and as dictated by common sense, this court finds that the term ‘sandwich’ is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.”


If you want to know the definition of a certain dish, the officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are good people to ask. It’s their job to make sure that the nation’s supply of meat is correctly labeled. When it comes to sandwiches, the agency follows strict criteria. “A sandwich is a meat or poultry filling between two slices of bread, a bun, or a biscuit,” Mark Wheeler, who works in food and safety at the USDA, told NPR. His definition comes from the Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book used by the department (the USDA only covers the “labeling of meat, poultry, and egg products,” while the FDA handles everything else, which is why the USDA's definition excludes things like grilled cheese). Not included under their umbrella of foodstuff served between bread are burritos, wraps, and hot dogs.


The USDA’s definition may not be as simple and elegant as it seems. A sandwich is one thing, but a “sandwich-like product” is different territory. The same labeling policy book Mark Wheeler referred to when describing a sandwich lumps burritos into this vague category. Fajitas “may also be” a sandwich-like product, as long as the strips of meat in question come bundled in a tortilla. Another section of the book lists hot dogs and hamburgers as examples of sandwich-type products when laying out inspection policies for pre-packaged dinners. So is there an example of a meat-wrapped-in-carb dish that doesn’t belong to the sandwich family? Apparently strombolis are where the USDA draws the line. The Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book clearly states the product “is not considered a traditional sandwich” [PDF].


When it comes to sandwiches, New York doesn’t discriminate. In a bulletin outlining the state’s tax policy, a description of what constitutes a sandwich warrants its own subhead. The article reads:

“Sandwiches include cold and hot sandwiches of every kind that are prepared and ready to be eaten, whether made on bread, on bagels, on rolls, in pitas, in wraps, or otherwise, and regardless of the filling or number of layers. A sandwich can be as simple as a buttered bagel or roll, or as elaborate as a six-foot, toasted submarine sandwich.”

It then moves on to examples of taxable sandwiches. The list includes items widely-believed to bear the label, like Reubens, paninis, club sandwiches, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Other entries, like burritos, gyros, open-faced sandwiches, and hot dogs, may cause confusion among diners.


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