See this refrigerator? See how clean and organized it is? It is clearly a stock photograph, carefully composed and nice and neat...and absolutely unrealistic. Nobody has a refrigerator that clean. The University of Missouri Extension office reminds everyone to take a look in the back of the fridge, just in case there are any forgotten leftovers liquefying, growing fuzz, or just stinkin’ things up.

"Often times we forget what is in the fridge, or it gets pushed to the back of the shelf to be forgotten," said the MU Extension in a news release. "Spoiled food can give off odors and affect other foods in which they may come in contact. Take a few minutes each month to clean out those shelves."

Here are a few tips the Extension Office recommends for keeping your refrigerator clean, and your food safe.

  1. Remove leftovers. A general rule of thumb is 3-4 days for cooked food, and 1-2 days for raw food.
  2. Wipe off selves with hot, soapy water, rinse and dry. Wash out trays and dry. Wash and dry gasket and closing surfaces as needed.
  3. Place baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors.
  4. Wipe up spills when they occur.
  5. Remove spoiled food immediately.
  6. Avoid harsh, abrasive cleaners as they could harm the finish.
  7. Clean door handles as they become soiled.
  8. Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below, and the freezer at zero or below.
  9. Clean the exterior with a soft cloth and mild detergent, or a cleaner or polish recommended for appliance surfaces.
  10. Clean coils and grill several times a year with a brush or vacuum to remove dirt and lent. This will help the unit run efficiently and save energy. Remember to wipe off the top and back.

If you follow the aforementioned tips, you should breeze through summer without a hitch!