Brand, new refrigerator (almost)


I took a shower with my refrigerator shelf last night, which is just every bit as sexy as it sounds. I realize normal people don’t bathe with their major appliances. This requires a bit of explanation.

Our refrigerator has been an annoyance since it was brand new. Somewhere around the one-year- and one-hour-old mark, just enough to be safely out of warranty, the interior shelves in our refrigerator began to break, crack and fall out.

This happened enough that Mr. Wonderful was called to action. He managed to jerry-rig and jimmy together the shelves using a combination of super duty green glue (pretty!) and popsicle sticks (yes, really).


For the past year the refrigerator makes ice cubes only when it feels like it. For six months, no ice. Then one day without warning ice. Then just when you’ve come to rely on ice, it cuts you off again. It’s unpredictable but oddly thrilling. The ice lottery.

The other day, however, I noticed that the problem with our refrigerator was more operator error than anything I could blame on the manufacturer. Namely: our refrigerator was filthy.

In the process of thawing out some red meat, the seal had clearly broken on the packaging. It was like a bloody beef massacre dripping down all the shelves (Oh I’m sorry, were you eating?) I can ignore the occasional splash of spilled milk or errant celery stalk but “CSI: Refrigerator” had to go.

Being prone to dramatic over-reaction, my first reaction was the understandable one: burn this refrigerator and buy a new one. Obviously. Then I remember refrigerators these days rival what I paid for my first (and second and third) cars. I am not in the market to spend that kind of change so I decided to work with what I had.

First step

Remove EVERYTHING. Yes, even the butter sticks. (Why do I have so many? Do I fear a butter embargo?) The little bottle of lemon juice that I never use but somehow feel I must keep. The crusty ketchup and brown mustard. (No one in our family even likes brown mustard. Do I buy it to keep the lemon juice company?)

Then I hauled out all the shelves and stacked them around our kitchen and mudroom. The shelves are glass and metal and very bulky. I ended up stacking a few of them on the floor and the worst of the worst I hauled into the shower to give it a good scrub and rinse.

Then I hauled out the bucket of good old fashioned hot soapy water with a hint of bleach. You should know that I love bleach. I am not interested in how it is toxic and going to kill me. With my bleach I will die happy.

I threw away all the old or simply suspicious condiments and leftovers and scrubbed that refrigerator out until it shone. I then returned the shelves and carefully restocked, keeping the fresh fruit and vegetables, the milk and the hummus.


Some people create great art, others climb mountains; my sense of monumental accomplishment came from deep cleaning a refrigerator. For one brief (literally) shining moment, our refrigerator resembled a photograph in a healthy living magazine. It has since been reintroduced to Velveeta and cookie dough, thus returning us to the foodstuffs we know and love.

If my arms hadn’t ached from all the elbow grease I’d applied, I would have patted myself on the back. Twenty-four hours later I turned on the shower and laughed out loud. I had completely forgotten to return an entire shelf.

I have had this refrigerator for over a decade. I use it multiple times per day. Yet, I completely failed to notice that an entire shelf was missing in the re-assembly process? Better yet, I hadn’t missed it since.

Either way

I’m not sure if this makes me a brilliant minimalist, or a forgetful person who bears watching. It could go either way. I’ve looked at the thing every which way in the days since, and the verdict? This shelf no longer fits.

Perhaps when I used all that hot soapy water the refrigerator shrunk? All I know is I don’t need or want the shelf back. I’m not sure what I would do with it if I had it . Stockpile more cookie dough? Probably. Best not.

In the meantime my family makes well deserved fun of me and points out the obvious: They’re just glad I didn’t pull the “stash it in the shower” stunt on the day I decided to clean out the toaster.

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