1. Warm Milk
The door of the fridge is no place to keep your dairy products, as it’s the warmest part of the fridge. Be wary of milk and other dairy that you’ve placed in the door of the fridge, because they’ll go bad much faster than they would if kept on an inner shelf of the fridge.
2. Contaminated Vegetables
Often, vegetable drawers are located at the bottom of the fridge, and they’re great for keeping fruits and veggies fresh because they’ve got specific humidity settings. However, you probably store meat and poultry somewhere else higher up in the fridge, and the juices are most likely leaking to the lower parts of your fridge, whether you realize it or not.
The solution is to dedicate the lowest part of your fridge to storing your meat. If that means dedicating one of your crisper drawers to meats and poultry, so be it.
3. Expired Condiments
You see a fancy jalapeño-lavender Dijon mustard at the grocery store and you just have to have it. You buy it, use it once or twice, then forget about it because you’ve already got four other mustards that are more versatile.
Older condiments go unnoticed for ages, but most people don’t end up throwing them away because there’s usually so much left in the container. Take the time every now and then to go through that stash of sauces and toss the ones that you don’t use anymore.
4. "New" Leftovers That Are Already Too Old
Sometimes, your leftovers may look and smell fine, but they’re actually already past their prime. Most meat, fish, and poultry dishes should only be kept in your fridge for three to four days.
As much as we all want that giant meal to last us a week, and while it still smells fine, it’s probably already begun to spoil. Unless you want to risk food poisoning, eat it within a few days, or pack it up nicely and store it in the freezer to defrost at a later date.
No one’s fridge is sparkling clean, but even if it looks alright, there could be a bit of spillage that contains salmonella. Even though salmonella typically thrives in warmer environments, it can still live on many of the foods you buy from the grocery store, like meat, poultry, and fish.
6. Old Cheese (And We Don't Mean Aged)
Yeah, we all know that cheese is sometimes moldy on purpose, and that’s what makes it awesome. However, if you’ve opened a soft cheese, you should really only keep it in your fridge for another one to two weeks, a much shorter time period than you would think for such an already-stinky specimen. After that, it’s safer to toss it.
On the plus side, this is an excuse not to feel bad about eating a bunch of cheese for a week or two!
7. A Slew Of Cold-Loving Bacteria
Psychrophilic bacteria loves cold environments. It’s the kind of bacteria that grows in the arctic glaciers, and it may also be living in your fridge if you don’t clean it regularly. These bacteria include coliforms, vibrio, pseudomonas, and listeria, which you really don’t want inside your body.
8. Unsealed Foods
Sometimes if you’re in a rush, you might toss an opened can into a refrigerator, thinking you’ll eat it the very next day. It turns out that even those 24 hours can lead to metals from the tin seeping into your food, causing nausea, vomiting, or more serious complications. Simply take an extra minute to dump the rest of your canned food into a sealable glass or plastic container and pop it in the fridge for safer future eating.
9. Hidden Molds
Microscopic bacteria aren’t the only gross things that can grow in your refrigerator; mold can, too. Molds can tolerate salt and sugars and may very well be growing in the containers in the very back of your refrigerator that you forgot about.
You’ve got to make sure to clean out your refrigerator on a regular basis — how often is determined by how quickly you go through your food and how often you purchase groceries.
10. An E. Coli-Filled Drawer
A lot of the time when we buy vegetables, we get a little overzealous with how much we can really eat, and they end up rotting right there in the vegetable drawer, out of sight and out of mind. This can lead your veggie drawer to be covered in something as scary as E. coli, even after you remove the rotting produce.
They can have up to 750 times the amount of bacteria that is considered safe for humans, making the veggie drawer the most common “dirty place” in your fridge, and the most likely location of E. coli. Eek!
Did we miss anything from the list? Let us know in the comments and please SHARE with family and friends on Facebook so they can get scrubbing, too!