What To Reach For Next Time You Need To Clean Under The Refrigerator

Have you checked under your fridge recently? It's home to all sorts of nasties, from dust bunnies to lost, dried-up grapes and dead insects. If you haven't added cleaning under your fridge to your regular chores rotation, it's time to do so. But a refrigerator is heavy; it's not practical or easy to lift. Plus, the gap between the bottom of the appliance and your floor is teeny tiny. How do you flush out all the debris under there? You craft a specialized tool from an old pair of pantyhose, a stick, and a rubber band.

However, cleaning under the fridge isn't just a matter of checking a task off a checklist. As food falls or spills underneath your appliance spoils, it becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria or molds, according to the Institute of Food Technologists. It, and all that dust, can also attract pests — think cockroaches, ants, and silverfish. You could even be sheltering a wee mouse family. Finally, it's a place where small but essential items are collected. In other words, you could end up finding dropped jewelry or some loose change under there.

Making your new tool

You're going to assemble a new under-the-refrigerator cleaning tool. To get started, gather your supplies. You'll need some pantyhose. This is a great way to use old stockings with ladders, tears, or pilling. If you don't wear tights, buy a new pair. Any denier will do. You'll also need a stick of some kind. For example, a coat hanger, broken broom handle, yardstick, or curtain rod will do. You'll also want to gather some ties, like rubber bands, hair elastics, or string. Baking soda (for deodorizing) and an all-purpose cleaner (for, well, cleaning) are optional.

Once you've collected the materials, scrunch the pantyhose into a tight ball and attach it with the rubber band to one end of the stick or hanger. You can also wrap the stockings around the end of the stick and secure them. Then, run your new tool underneath the fridge a few times, making sure to reach the back and corners. Once you've swept the stick or hanger under, you'll notice some light dust and dirt will stick to the pantyhose, while heavier items will be pushed out. To collect the debris, use a vacuum or dustpan. Then, discard the used pantyhose and rinse off the stick. If you want to deodorize or clean under your fridge at the same time as dusting, powder the pantyhose with baking soda or soak it in an all-purpose cleaner before scrunching it into a ball.

How it works

The driving force behind this nifty trick is static electricity. In other words, rubbing two surfaces together creates a negative charge. According to Scientific America, this charge is carried by electrons that give off static electricity. As the rubbing continues, "the electrons can build up to produce static electricity." This, in turn, results in the triboelectric effect, as per Nano Werk, where two surfaces or items stick to one another. Pantyhose, for example, is notorious for creating this charge, as one Knitting Industry article on a recent innovation from elastane fiber manufacturer Lycra notes. In other words, wearers have probably noticed their nylons collect everything from pet hair to skirt fabric.

When you run your stocking-tipped stick under your fridge, the static electricity attracts dust and debris. This works with other types of fabric. If you don't have pantyhose, try wrapping the stick in microfiber dusting gloves or an old bath towel rag. To get the most out of your new tool, use it to clean under any heavy appliance or piece of furniture with hard-to-reach gaps.