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15/10/14: 7 worst things to find in your refrigerator or ice machine

Refrigerator-cleaningHealth inspectors get to see the worst of the worst when it comes to commercial kitchens. They see the little extras that are left behind the refrigerator, they notice the smells in the walk-in freezers, and they notice the slime inside of the ice bin. We’ve taken our cues from the health inspectors and compiled some of the worst things that you can find in your own appliances.

1. Roaches

Roaches and other creepy crawlies are attracted to places where there’s both food and water. This makes the kitchen the perfect place to hang out since food, shelter, water and warmth are available in abundance. They have no problems making nests inside and around appliances, hiding away from surface cleanings.

What should you do?

Start off easy and remove all of the food sources within your kitchen. This means clearing up crumbs, sweeping down near the backs of machines, and moving the machines enough to clear behind them. Don’t be afraid to lay out some discreet traps.

2. Rodents

Rats and mice can be a horrible thing to find in your cooler, your ice machine, or other appliance. Having rodents means that they have access to your place, as well as a source of food, water and warmth. Remove these or make it harder for them to come in, and you should be able to get rid of the problem.

What should you do?

Like the roaches and the other creepy crawlies, it’s time to remove the food sources. Make sure that all of your food is appropriately covered, sealed, and stored. Once it’s full, immediately move your trash bin to the dumpster to be hauled away.

3. Slime

Slime, mold, and other bacterial growth can really put a damper on your day. These types of hazards don’t merely grow in ice machines and refrigerators. Basically, anywhere that makes it easy for bacteria to grow, slime and mold can grow.

What should you do?

Make sure that there’s a disinfectant in your cleaner. Wipe down all possible surfaces on which slime can grow, being very careful to wear gloves in the process. Look into an antimicrobial filter for your equipment, as well as antimicrobial treatment in the plastic itself.

4. Bad Temperatures

The biggest reason that you keep your food cold is that, by chilling it, it slows down the growth of bacteria and other hazards. As those refrigerators and other cooling appliances get older, their capability of chilling goods diminishes unless it’s wholly and properly maintained. Bad temperatures can be a result of many things.

What should you do?

First of all, knowing is half the battle. At least once a month, make sure that the temperature that your appliance announces is the actual temperature within the unit. If there’s a significant difference, the best thing you can do is to have professional maintenance done on the machine. Remember, it’s often cheaper to get service than to get a new machine.

5. Detritus

Every time that we touch something with our bare hands, something gets left behind. It might be skin cells, it might be bacteria from not washing our hands after using the bathroom, or it might be a combination of things. These materials get left behind in our ice machines and our refrigerators, potentially causing serious problems down the road.

What should you do?

Wash and sanitize your hands before handling anything within your appliance. If you’re not able to wash and sanitize your hands, put on gloves to protect the appliance from errant skin flakes and other detritus.

6. Improperly Labeled Items

Improperly labeled items or things that aren’t labeled at all can be a real hazard to your food safety. Unfortunately, it happens all the time in our home kitchens, as well as our commercial kitchens. How many times have you seen your friend’s fridge go from wonderland to science project? We’d definitely be on the lookout for that.

What should you do?

Take out everything that’s in your fridge or appliance. If you’re not able to remember the exact date that you put it in there, throw it away. If something is in there and it’s wrapped in newspaper from 1980, chances are it’s not good anymore. Labeling and food storage are two of the most important things to remember for your kitchen.

7. Unidentified Standing Sludge

Sometimes it’s not clear what you’ve found inside the ice machine or the refrigerator, but you are pretty sure that it’s probably not supposed to be there. Having sludge in anything is considered to be bad, and collecting it in your fridge or ice machine is right out.

What should you do?

If you’ve got unidentified standing sludge in your appliance, you might want to get some serious cleaning materials to wash it out. Start with the small natural cleaners and then escalate. Make sure that you bring plenty of washrags to the scene and scrub like a mad person.

If you have any of these items (or creepy crawlies) within your ice machines, refrigerators, or dishwashers, there’s definitely hope. You can take down most slime, bacteria and mold with disinfectants. You can scare away the rats and roaches by clearing out the open food and making sure that you’ve got some food-safe traps in the area. Any steps that you take toward getting these out will lead to a cleaner, happier and safer kitchen and home.