Workplace Wednesday: Dealing with the Overripe Communal Refrigerator

Posted by Eric Smith

In honor of Workplace Conflict Awareness Month, we’re posting excerpts from Caroline Tiger’s How To Behave: A Guide to Modern Manners. In How To Behave, Caroline dedicates an entire chapter to office etiquette. It’s my hope that these bits of wisdom, posted every Wednesday this month, will help you to alleviate the conflict in your workplace.

Last week, we featured Photocopier Etiquette, and hopefully it helped you avoid an Office Space-esque mental breakdown. Today, we’re featuring something near and dear to everyone at Quirk… dealing with the overripe communal refrigerator. A point of serious tension in any office (especially ours!), the communal fridge can be a nightmare if it isn’t taken care of.

Tiger’s suggestion? Be the office hero and clean it for everyone. That’ll eliminate any tension and resolve the conflict before it even happens.

Dealing with the Overripe Communal Refrigerator

From How To Behave by Caroline Tiger

Perhaps the most selfless task an office worker can perform for his coworkers is to take on the cleaning of a nasty communal refrigerator. Perhaps you’re motivated by guilt, since you know that several of the shoddily wrapped sources of stink are your own; maybe you’re a saint. Either way, here’s how it’s done.

1. Wear rubber gloves and some kind of face mask so as not to pass out when you open the door.

2. Gather your cleaning products nearby—bleach, disinfectant, and plenty of sponges.

3. Put on your gloves and face gear and begin by removing everything from the refrigerator and placing it in a nearby trashcan. Even those items that are not yet rancid have been contaminated by their proximity to the overripe foodstuffs.

4. Once the shelves are empty, spray ample amounts of disinfectant over the entire surface and wipe it clean with a sponge.

5. Repeat step 4 several times to completely eradicate the lingering odor.

6. Now apply a layer of bleach to thoroughly disinfect the interior.

7. Wipe clean with a wet sponge.

For more information on How To Behave by Caroline Tiger, scope out the book’s official page.

Eric Smith


ERIC SMITH is the cofounder of Geekadelphia, a popular blog covering all-that-is-geek in the City of Brotherly Love, as well as the Philadelphia Geek Awards, an annual awards show held at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He’s written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, and