Cleaning is like competing in a decathlon.  Only you don't have to run or swim, instead you get to fight dirt, odor, mold, spills and everything else that is wrong with this world.  Not everyone has my natural ability when it comes to cleaning, but I'm ready to do my part to help the less gifted by providing some tips.  Just remember, for many people, learning to clean well can take a lifetime.


The refrigerator is the home for your perishables.  You want your food to have a clean and happy home, don't you? Then use these tricks.  If your food could thank you, it would.  So would I.

  • Here's a tip that might be a little counter-intuitive: when cleaning the inside of your refrigerator, don't use soap or dishwashing fluid, which will leave a smell and can taint food.  Use baking soda and warm water to wipe the insides of refrigerators and freezers instead.  But use soap for other things.  Do not fear soap.  In fact, you should probably just go wash your hands with soap right now.

  • If you need to defrost your freezer, store food in coolers, or ask friendly neighbors to borrow space in their freezers.  But don't ask them every day.  My neighbors are not as friendly as they once were.  Apparently some people just don't share my passion for frost-free living.

  • And here's another fun trick for removing odors:  while your refrigerator is switched off for defrosting, leave a bowl filled with charcoal inside.



They say you are what you eat.  So make sure what you eat is not old, or dirty, or contaminated, or smelly, or well, you get the idea. 

  • Label all frozen foods containers with the date, so you'll always be able to check what's still good and what's expired. And arrange items by date and meal course dinner, dessert, vegetables etc.   You'll be glad you did.  Trust me on this one.


There's nothing as inviting and inspiring to a home chef as a clean, pristine cast iron skillet.  That's why I've never used mine. But if you're willing to make the sacrifice and sully your own skillet by actually cooking with it, you'll need this tip:

  • Simply add coarse salt, simmer on the burner and wipe with a paper towel.  It won't look as good as new, but it'll be the next best thing.

To make Monk's Tips the final say on sanitary living, we need YOU to contribute your best ideas. Email them to us along with a photo of yourself for use in future editions of Monk's Cleaning Tips.

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