Make Way For The Turkey!

When was the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator? If it’s been a while, why not start today? November 15th is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day—right before the holiday season begins, so you can have plenty of space to store a turkey and leftovers!

This can seem like a daunting task but you can do it in five simple steps:

First, remove everything from the refrigerator. You can keep perishables fresh by putting them in a cooler with ice packs while you clean. Toss out old or expired food in the trash. If you are not sure, remember the saying “When in doubt, throw it out!”. You can also check the FoodKeeper app or website. Recycle glass or plastic containers.

PRO TIP (from the ultimate pro): This is also a great time to take inventory in preparation for Thanksgiving.

Next, remove the shelves and drawers. Allow them to warm up to room temperature before washing to prevent breakage. Wash in hot, soapy water and rinse. Allow items to air dry.

Clean the inside of the refrigerator from top to bottom. Use a clean, dry cloth or towel and homemade refrigerator cleaner (see recipe below). Tough spots may need a plastic, non-abrasive scrubber or soak them with a wet cloth. Use an old toothbrush to reach those hard to reach places, like corners, shelf seams, and rubber door seams.  Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth or towel.  Do not forget the interior doors as well.  Some of those shelves can be removed for easier cleaning.

This typical refrigerator scene may be screaming, “Don’t you just want to spend the morning cleaning me???” And you may be saying, “Don’t look…. don’t look. Just get what you need and get out.” But if you’re preparing any holiday meals, may as well grab that extra trash bag and get scrubbing. Where else will you put that 16-pound bird? At least you can catch up on your podcast playlist.

Replace the clean shelves and drawers and put the food back into the refrigerator. Be sure to wipe off the outside of the jars and containers to keep everything clean. Use a clean cloth when working with your food jars to prevent contamination and dry them well.

Now that the inside is clean, remember to clean the outside. Starting from the top, wipe down and clean the exterior of the refrigerator with warm, soapy water.  If you have a stainless steel refrigerator, you will need a soft rag and vinegar or window cleaner to keep the surface shiny.

You should also vacuum the refrigerator coils seasonally (every three months) to keep it running smoothly. Unplug the refrigerator and move it so you can reach the coils at the back of the refrigerator to clean. Use your owner’s manual for assistance if needed. After cleaning, put the refrigerator back in place and plug it back in.

To keep your refrigerator clean, wipe up spills as they occur and throw out food every week.  Add an opened box of baking soda in the back of your refrigerator to eliminate odors and keep the refrigerator smelling fresh. And, if you’re already thinking of getting healthy in the new year, now is a great time to restock your refrigerator with healthier options.


Homemade Refrigerator Cleaner Recipe

  • 2-tbsp baking soda
  • 1-quart warm water

Dissolve baking soda in warm water. Pour into a labeled, spray bottle. Spray and wipe inside and outside surfaces. Apply a baking soda paste on stubborn spots. Rinse with a clean, wet cloth.

Signs Of Trouble In A Septic System

Do you ever think about your septic system and whether it is working as it should? Most people simply flush and forget it. But—like your heating and air conditioning system—if you don’t maintain it, it will fail, leading to expensive repairs. Your septic system is perhaps the most important and expensive appliance in your home. And problems with a septic system can be a shock not only to your checkbook, but to your senses as well!

Some of the more offensive clues that your septic system is failing include sewage backing up into your house; foul sewage odors; and, wet, spongy areas near your tank or drainfield (sometimes accompanied by excessive vegetation growth). The worst possible sign of trouble is if a family member or household guest experiences an intestinal disorder. Less unpleasant warning signs include slow draining sinks, and, possibly, alarm warnings if you have an advanced treatment system (like a BAT unit). All of these signs indicate that your tank is overfilling and your drainfield is clogging, which causes drains to backup and soggy spots in your yard.

More importantly, all of these situations are a hazard to your health, and requires immediate attention. If you are experiencing any of these signs of trouble, you should contact your local county environmental health office and a septic professional to identify what’s causing the failure and discuss a solution.

As with most things, the best approach is to avoid problems in the first place. Our most important recommendation for septic maintenance is to pump your tank every three to five years, sometimes more depending on your tank size and the number of people living in your house. We also recommend you follow these easy maintenance practices:

  • Use water efficiently—space out showers, laundry, and dishwashing; and fix leaking toilets and sinks.
  • Use green cleaners—conventional household chemicals (cleaners, paints, etc.) can kill the beneficial bacteria in your system.
  • Direct rain water drainage and hot tub water away from the tank and drainfield.
  • Don’t use a garbage disposal.
  • Don’t flush any products other than toilet paper.


If you have a well, and your septic system has failed, the sewage could be contaminating your drinking water, which could then cause gastrointestinal issues amongst family members and guests. If you’re concerned about your drinking water quality, you should work with a state-certified lab to test your well water for bacteria and nitrates—which we recommend you do annually anyways.

Maintaining your septic system will not only protect your family’s health, but a little attention to your system will also go a long way in keeping it operational and lasting for many years.


Switch to Green Cleaning with 9 Easy-to-Find Ingredients

June is Healthy Homes month, and one of the easiest steps to making your home healthier is to use green cleaners. Common household cleaners can contain chemicals that are harmful for both people and the environment. Ingredients—like ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphorus—can cause all sorts of health issues for the user, and then make their way into the air and water, where they cause environmental problems.

Green cleaners, on the other hand, can make your home healthier, won’t harm the earth, and will save you money. You can create surprisingly simple, cleaners with a few ingredients that you can find at your local supermarket! The following list of ingredients, based on Jill Potvin Schoff’s Green Up Your Clean Up, is all you need to create your own supply of green cleaners!

Liquid Soap: In this case, we are talking about an old-fashioned soap rather than most current soaps, which use surfactants. You want to look for either a castile soap or a plant-based nontoxic soap. These are very concentrated and will last quite a while!

Borax: Borax is similar to baking soda but is slightly stronger. It is capable of killing mold and mildew. You can often find borax in the grocery store with the laundry detergents.

Baking Soda: If you bake, you are likely familiar with baking soda. It is commonly used in baked goods, but can also be used to remove odors, unclog drains, or clean tough stains. You can usually find this in the baking aisle of the grocery store.

Washing Soda: Washing soda is a very powerful cleaner that can be used for tough cleaning jobs or laundry. Be careful, as it can irritate skin! Also, it should not be used on fiberglass, aluminum, or delicate fabrics.

White Vinegar: Another very common kitchen item. This works well for cleaning glass, removing soap scum, and much more. You can find it in the grocery store (usually with the condiments). You will want to make sure you are buying white vinegar (as opposed to apple cider or red wine vinegar).

Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is a great stain remover and also leaves a natural and pleasant smell. Fresh would be ideal, but bottled works as well.

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A little elbow grease and some green cleaners will keep you and your family breathing easier.

Oxygen Bleach: This is different from chlorine bleach and is friendlier for the environment. It is great for removing stains in laundry, grout, or other areas.

Club Soda: The sodium citrate in club soda helps clean dirt from glass, fabric and more. Avoid low sodium options for cleaning. The sodium is part of what makes this an effective cleaner!

Essential Oils: These can help to give your homemade cleaners a pleasant smell! There are some oils that are thought to disinfect, but it is up to your preference on the smell to decide which you would like to include.

Using these simple ingredients, you can make the following cleaners that the University of Georgia Extension has put together:

All Purpose Cleaner

  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon washing soda
  • ½ teaspoon castile soap
  • 2 cups hot water
  • A few drops of your favorite essential oil

Mix ingredients in a spray bottle or bucket. Apply and then wipe clean. Make sure to test the strength of the smell by spraying on a counter or some other surface. A little goes a long way with essential oil!

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • 1 cup borax
  • ½ cup white vinegar

Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

Oven Cleaner

  • 2 tablespoons of castile soap
  • 2 tablespoons borax

Mix the soap and borax in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with hot water and shake well. Spray on oven and leave for 20 minutes. Scrub off.

Non-Abrasive Soft Scrubber

  • ¼ cup borax
  • Castile soap
  • ½ teaspoon lemon essential oil

In a bowl, mix the borax with enough soap to form a creamy paste. Add lemon oil and blend well. Scoop a small amount of the mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, then rise well.

Excited to try these? You can also print them, and other recipes, in booklet and recipe card formats for easier referencing in the future!