If you are reading this guide, chances are you have just purchased a new fridge for the first time in Kenya.
This guide is specifically designed for new fridge owners who want to know how to use their fridge properly and effectively.
Perhaps you are a young adult moving out of your parents’ home and starting your own household, or maybe you are an expat living in Kenya for the first time.
Regardless of your situation, using a fridge can be quite overwhelming at first, especially if it’s your first time owning one.
This guide aims to simplify the process and provide clarity on all aspects of operating a refrigerator in Kenya.
From plugging in your appliance and setting the temperature to organizing food items correctly and defrosting when necessary, we will cover everything you need to know as a beginner fridge user.
So let’s get started!
Preparing the Fridge for First Time Use
a). Unpacking and inspecting the fridge
After purchasing a new fridge in Kenya, the next step is to unpack and inspect it before plugging it in for use.
This process helps ensure that the fridge is in good condition and free from defects or damages.
To begin with, take out all the shelves and drawers from the fridge compartment as well as the freezer compartment. Check if there are any cracks or breakages on them.
Next, inspect the interior of both compartments for any damages.
Look for dents or scratches on the walls or surfaces that may hinder proper functioning of the fridge.
Also, check if there are any loose wires or connections that may cause electrical issues when plugged in.
Finally, examine all parts such as door seals and handles to make sure they are properly attached and functioning correctly.
After completing these checks, you can proceed to plug in your new fridge knowing that it’s safe to use and will serve you better without experiencing any issues caused by defects or damages during transportation.
b). Cleaning and sanitizing the fridge
But first, make sure it is clean and sanitized!
If you bought it from a supermarket, chances are, a ton of people have been checking it out…
You don’t know where them hands have been to😬.
Start by removing all items in the fridge and place them in a cooler with ice packs.
Then unplug the fridge from the power source.
Next, remove any shelves or drawers inside the fridge and wash them thoroughly with warm soapy water.
Use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean stubborn stains or odors. Rinse well and let them air dry.
After cleaning the shelves, wipe down the interior of the fridge with a mixture of hot water and vinegar.
Pay special attention to corners, crevices, and seals around doors where mold can grow.
c). Setting up the fridge in the proper location
When setting up a fridge, it is essential to consider the location where it will be placed.
Ideally, the fridge should be positioned in a cool and dry place that is free from direct sunlight.
Direct exposure to sunlight will cause the fridge’s compressor to work harder, which may lead to its premature failure.
Furthermore, adequate ventilation should be provided around the fridge.
The recommended space between the back of the refrigerator and the wall is at least two inches.
This ensures that air can circulate freely around the condenser coils located at the back of the refrigerator.
Lastly, ensure that there are no heat-emitting appliances near your fridge as this can raise its internal temperature leading to spoilage of foodstuffs such as dairy products or meats.
d). Allow time for the fridge to cool down
After purchasing a new refrigerator, allowing it to cool down before loading it with food is important.
This can take several hours, so be sure to plan ahead and avoid putting perishable items in the fridge until it has reached the appropriate temperature.
The ideal temperature for a refrigerator is between 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some people may be tempted to turn the temperature down as low as possible or even place ice packs inside the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
However, this can actually be counterproductive and cause unnecessary strain on the appliance’s compressor.
It is best to simply leave the fridge empty and let it cool down naturally.
In addition to allowing time for the fridge to cool down initially, it is also important to regularly check and adjust its temperature settings according to your needs.
Hot weather or frequent opening of the door can cause fluctuations in temperature, so stay vigilant about maintaining a consistent environment for your food storage needs.
Setting up the Fridge
e). Turning on the fridge
When using your fridge for the first time, following the manufacturer’s instructions is important.
The first step is to plug in the fridge and switch it on.
The temperature settings should be adjusted according to the user manual or as per your preference, but it is recommended that you set it between 3-5 degrees Celsius.
Once you have done this, wait for at least an hour before putting any food inside.
When placing food items in the fridge, ensure they are cooled to room temperature before being stored.
This will help prevent bacteria growth and spoilage of food.
It is also advisable not to overload your fridge as this can cause uneven cooling and lead to increased energy consumption.
f). Setting the temperature
When setting the temperature for your fridge in Kenya, consider the ambient temperature of your surrounding environment.
If you live in a hot and humid area, you may need to set your fridge at a lower temperature than recommended to ensure that your food stays fresh.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the temperature between 35-38°F (1.7 – 3.3°C) for optimum freshness.
Note that overfilling your fridge can cause airflow problems, leading to uneven cooling and spoilage of certain foods.
Make sure there is enough space between items in your fridge for proper air circulation.
When setting the temperature for a new fridge or after defrosting an old one, it’s best to give it some time before adding any perishable items.
Allow the fridge to cool down completely before placing food inside.
This will ensure that the internal temperature stabilizes and all areas of the fridge are properly cooled.
g). Explanation of the different compartments and shelves
One of the most important things to know when using a fridge for the first time in Kenya is understanding its different compartments and shelves.
Most fridges have a top freezer compartment and a bottom refrigerator compartment, with multiple shelves inside each section.
The freezer is often smaller than the refrigerator section, but it’s still essential to use it correctly.
In general, the top shelf of your fridge should be used for items that need colder temperatures such as dairy products including cheese or yogurt, cooked meat or deli meats, and leftovers.
The middle shelf is usually best suited for drinks like juice or soda while fresh fruits are best stored on the bottom shelf.
Vegetables should also be kept in low-humidity drawers at the bottom.
The door compartments are well-suited to store condiments such as ketchup and mustard bottles, butter containers or margarine tubs, salad dressings jars among others since they don’t need very cold temperatures compared to other foods.
Proper storage can help prolong food’s freshness and prevent spoilage, saving you money in the long run by reducing waste.
Stocking the Fridge
h). Best practices for organizing food in the fridge in Kenya
When it comes to organizing food in the fridge, it is essential to follow a few best practices.
Firstly, make sure that you keep raw meats and vegetables separate from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination. This means storing raw meats on the bottom shelf of your fridge where they won’t drip onto other foods.
It’s also important to use storage containers when possible.
These can help keep your fridge clean and organized while preventing spills and leaks from contaminating other items in your refrigerator.
To further maximize space, consider investing in clear plastic bins that are stackable and easy to label.
Finally, don’t forget about expiration dates! Be sure to check labels and rotate older items towards the front of the fridge so that they get used up first.
This not only helps prevent wastage but also ensures that you’re eating fresh food at all times.
By following these simple best practices, you can easily organize your fridge for optimal efficiency and freshness!
i). Tips for preventing food spoilage
First and foremost, understand that proper storage is key in preventing food spoilage.
Make sure that your fridge is set to the recommended temperature of between 1-4°C (34-40°F) and that you store your food in the correct compartments.
Most fridges have specific sections for fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, and beverages.
Another tip for preventing food spoilage is to ensure that you rotate your food regularly.
This means using older items first so they don’t go bad while newer ones remain fresh.
It’s also a good idea to label items with their purchase or expiration dates so you know what needs to be used up first.
And be mindful of how long you keep certain types of foods in the fridge.
For example, leftover cooked meat should only be stored for up to four days while raw poultry should only be kept for one or two days before cooking or freezing.
j). Understanding which foods should not be stored in the fridge
Certain foods should not be stored in the fridge, as they can actually lose flavor and texture when chilled.
One such food is bread – storing bread in the fridge can cause it to become stale faster. Instead, store bread at room temperature in a sealed container or bag to keep it fresh for longer.
Another food that shouldn’t be stored in the fridge is potatoes.
The cold temperatures of the fridge can actually convert the starches in potatoes into sugar, which can affect their taste and texture.
Instead, store potatoes in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cupboard.
Finally, tomatoes are another food item that shouldn’t be kept in the fridge. Cold temperatures can actually alter their texture and flavor.
Store tomatoes at room temperature on a countertop or windowsill instead.
By avoiding these common mistakes when using your fridge for storage, you’ll help ensure your food stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible!
k). Regular cleaning of the fridge
Keeping your fridge clean and organized is important not only for hygiene purposes but also for maintaining the quality of your food.
Regular cleaning of the fridge can help prevent the growth of bacteria and mold, which can cause food spoilage and unpleasant odors. It is recommended to clean your fridge every three months or as needed.
To start cleaning, unplug the fridge and remove all items from inside.
Begin by wiping down surfaces with a damp cloth or sponge and mild detergent.
Pay special attention to areas that are prone to spills such as shelves, drawers, and door compartments.
For stubborn stains or spills, use a baking soda solution or vinegar solution to scrub away grime.
Once you have cleaned all surfaces thoroughly, dry them with a clean towel before returning items back into the fridge.
Group similar items together to create an organized space that allows you to find what you need easily.
Lastly, check the expiration dates on products before returning them into the fridge – this will help ensure that you always consume fresh food.
l). How to organize and arrange items in the fridge
When it comes to organizing and arranging items in the fridge, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
First, make sure that you’re storing foods at the right temperatures.
This means keeping raw meats and poultry on the bottom shelf to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.
Dairy products should be stored on the top shelf where it’s slightly warmer, while fruits and vegetables can go in the crisper drawers.
Another important consideration when organizing your fridge is making sure that you’re using your space efficiently.
One tip is to use clear containers or storage bins to group similar items together so they’re easy to find when needed. You can also use stackable containers or shelving units to maximize vertical space and keep everything organized.
Finally, don’t forget about labeling!
This may seem unnecessary, but taking a few seconds to label containers can save you time and hassle later on.
Use masking tape or adhesive labels to mark the date when food was opened or prepared so that you know when it needs to be used up. With these tips in mind, organizing your fridge will be a breeze!
m). Tips for maximizing the lifespan of the fridge
- Keep the fridge clean: Keeping your fridge clean is crucial to maximizing its lifespan. Regularly remove any expired food or spills that may have occurred inside the fridge. You can use a mixture of water and vinegar to wipe down the interior compartments, including shelves and drawers.
- Keep it organized: Organizing your fridge will make it easier for you to find what you need quickly and help maximize its lifespan. Ensure that you do not overpack your fridge, leaving enough space for air circulation.
- Check the temperature: The ideal temperature range for a fridge is between 1°C-4°C; anything beyond this range could lead to spoilage of contents or ice buildup in the freezer compartment. It is essential to check that the thermostat is working optimally regularly.
- Avoid putting hot food: Putting hot food straight into your refrigerator can cause an increase in temperature, which could lead to compressor burnout or spoilage of other foods already in there.
- Close door properly: Always ensure that you close the refrigerator door correctly after use as leaving it open exposes its contents and components like compressors and fans to warmer air from outside causing them to work harder than necessary.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
As you continue using your new fridge in Kenya, here are some issues you might encounter.
n). Fridge not cooling enough
If your fridge is not cooling enough, it could be a result of various factors.
Firstly, check to ensure that the temperature settings are appropriately set.
The ideal temperature for your fridge should be between 38-40°F while the freezer should be at 0°F.
If you have checked and adjusted the temperature settings accordingly but still experience issues, then it might be as a result of dirty coils or clogged air vents.
Dirty coils can prevent proper heat transfer in your fridge, causing insufficient cooling.
To solve this issue, unplug the fridge and vacuum clean behind and underneath it to remove any dust or dirt build-up on the coils.
Clogged air vents could also cause inadequate cooling in your fridge.
Airflow is important in ensuring temperatures are maintained at optimal levels throughout the refrigerator’s compartments.
Clearing any obstructions such as food debris or ice buildup around these vents can vastly improve airflow within the unit and help bring about more efficient cooling.
o). Freezer not working properly
If your freezer is not working properly, there may be several reasons why this is happening.
One common cause of a malfunctioning freezer is a faulty thermostat.
When the thermostat is not calibrated correctly or if it breaks down entirely, it can cause the compressor to run continuously, leading to an overworked motor and a damaged freezer.
Another potential cause of a malfunctioning freezer is improper ventilation around the unit.
If there isn’t enough space between your freezer and other objects or walls, heat can build up around the appliance and prevent it from cooling effectively.
This problem can be easily remedied by ensuring that there’s plenty of room for air to circulate freely around your freezer.
Lastly, inadequate maintenance can also lead to a malfunctioning freezer.
Over time, dirt and debris can accumulate on the coils of your freezer’s condenser fan, causing it to work less efficiently than usual.
To avoid this problem, regularly clean your fridge by wiping its exterior with warm water and soap solution while you vacuum its coils at least once every six months.
p). Strange noises or odors
Once you have plugged in your fridge and turned it on, you may notice some strange noises or odors coming from it. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be worried about.
The first thing you may hear is a humming sound as the compressor kicks into gear. This noise should only last for a few seconds before settling down.
Another common noise comes from the fan inside the fridge, which helps circulate air to keep everything cool.
You may hear a gentle whirring sound as the fan spins, but this should also be relatively quiet and unobtrusive.
If you notice any loud or persistent noises coming from your fridge, it could be a sign that something is wrong and you should contact a professional for help.
As for odors, new fridges can sometimes give off a slight chemical smell as they are being broken in. This smell should dissipate over time as the fridge gets used more frequently.
If there are any particularly strong or unpleasant odors coming from your fridge, though, it could indicate that there is spoiled food inside or an issue with the cooling system that needs to be addressed immediately.
q). Electrical or power issues
Electrical or power issues may arise when using a fridge for the first time in Kenya.
It is essential to ensure that the voltage and frequency of the outlet are compatible with the fridge’s requirements to prevent damage to your appliance.
You should consider investing in a voltage stabilizer or surge protector to safeguard against power surges and fluctuations.
Another common issue is inadequate power supply, resulting in inefficient functioning or even complete fridge breakdown.
In such cases, it is recommended that you contact an electrician to assess and rectify any underlying electrical issues to avoid further damage.
Lastly, if you experience frequent power outages, you should purchase a backup generator or install solar panels as an alternative energy source.
This will ensure uninterrupted use of your fridge and save on electricity bills in the long run.
To recap, when using a fridge for the first time in Kenya, ensure that you set it up correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
You should also keep an eye on its temperature and ensure that it stays within safe limits (below 5°C).
Ensure you store your food correctly in sealed containers or bags to prevent contamination and label them with dates to avoid consuming expired products.
Overall, taking these simple steps will help you get the most out of your fridge while keeping your family safe from harmful bacteria and prolonging the life of your groceries.