Can Your Refrigerator Make You Sick?

Some tips for keeping your refrigerator clean.

Hands down, we have the safest food supply in the world. And we have some of the strictest standards for food safety also.

So why, then is there each year an estimated 76 million Americans still contract foodborne illnesses?

Each year on average, 3000 people in the United States will die from food-related illnesses.

Foodborne illness is nearly 100% preventable if safe food handling practices are applied from the time food is purchased until the time it is served.

More than 20% of foodborne illness outbreaks result from food that was consumed inside the home.

By extrapolation, this would be an average of 15.2 million U.S. citizens who contract food-related illnesses from food consumed inside the home each year.  While some of that may originate from delivery or takeout meals, it is probably safe to assume that the majority of this came from food stored and prepared at home.

Is your kitchen making you sick?

Source: Clemson University Cooperative Extension

So, this begs the question: Is your kitchen making you sick?  And just as importantly, is your refrigerator making you sick?

Top 10 germiest objects in your kitchen

Source: Clemson University Cooperative Extension

Notice how half of the list, 5 of the 10, are in or on your refrigerator!

Here are steps you can take to be sure that your kitchen and refrigerator are clean:

4 steps to insure a healthy kitchen


1.      Remove and empty bins from the refrigerator.

2.      Unplug electric items.

3.      Remove gaskets, seals and washable parts from the blender, can opener, rubber spatulas, and storage containers.

4.      Remove knives from the knife block, if you use one.

5.      Thoroughly wash all items with hot soapy water and rinse with clean water.

6.      Dry with a clean towel or paper towel.

7.      Sanitize by spraying a mixture of 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water (6% mixture).

8.      Let the chlorine mixture remain on items and surfaces for one minute.

9.      Let air dry or, wipe dry with a clean paper towel.


Be sure to see our additional information on refrigerator care and maintenance.




If your refrigerator or any other kitchen or laundry appliance needs serviced or replaced, contact us at 717.299.5641 or email us.



1. Consumer Food Safety – Clemson University Cooperative Extension
2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control
3. National Sanitation Foundation