food and nutrition

Foodless Food

Question: Black mold in foodless fridge? For about three and a half months, the refrigerator in my apartment at school sat dormant - plugged in, but turned off. The only things I left inside were an unopened bottle of wine and an empty Brita pitcher. When I moved back in, I was horrified to discover a massive amount of black mold - probably at least 20% of the surface area of the interior. When the landlord suggested I leave the fridge off to save electricity, he failed to mention that keeping the door open was required to prevent this from happening. So, the question: assuming that this mold grew from nothing but the moisture that was inside the fridge, and not a bunch of months-old food, just how toxic or non-toxic is it likely to be? I plan on mixing up a 10-1 water-bleach solution and going to town on it, but should I also being looking for a respirator? And there aren't any windows anywhere near the kitchen, so ventilation is almost non-existent. Any tips on how to handle this safely?

Answer: I've had this happen before--the bleach solution should do the trick. If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, it wouldn't hurt to wear a surgical mask if you can get one. And you'll probably want gloves. Buy or borrow a cheap box fan, and put it in the door of your kitchen, facing away from you. If it's a really small apartment where the kitchen isn't exactly a separate room, prop your front door open and aim the fan into the hall. Let it run while you're cleaning the fridge and it will pull any unpleasantness out of your apartment. I used to have a part-time job cleaning our rental houses--I've done this a couple of times.

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