Bacteria In The House

Home Inspector with Diadem Property Inspections - Serving Southeast Michigan

Bacteria In The House

We all use refrigerators and freezers to prevent food spoilage. But what happens if the refrigerator isn't clean?

Refrigeration slows, but doesn't stop, microbial growth (that's why food can go bad in refrigerators). Since micro-organisms are everywhere (in the soil, air, water... and even our foods), the fridge isn't necessarily a safe haven. After all, the things needed for bacterial growth are present: a food source (in this case, actual food), moisture, and appropriate temperature.

Micro-organisms that can grow at cold temperatures are called psychrophiles, and these microbes can survive and even thrive at temperatures below 32 degrees F.

So if those spills aren't cleaned right away... if that slop from the leaky packaged meat just sits there... micro-organisms can grow rapidly.

Long story short, if the fridge isn't clean, it will probably become a breeding ground for bacteria.


Bacteria And The Aching Belly

Food that is improperly processed or packed can be contaminated with these psychotrophic bacteria, and of course, it may be present in dirty refrigerators.

When we eat foods contaminated with such bacteria, they will grow in our bodies.

Some bacteria may not be harmful themselves, but  release toxins into the food which causes food poisoning.

Bacteria such as some Coliforms and Listeria are all known to survive low temperatures and become harmful once they are inside the human body. Listeria is even known to cause serious problems in pregnant women.



  • Wipe up spills in the fridge right away, and use hot, soapy water... rinse thoroughly.
  • Pitch the expired foods right away... A rule of thumb for leftovers stored in the fridge is keep it for no more than 4 days.
  • Check the temperature of your fridge. Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40 degrees F or lower. While bacteria can grow at this and lower temperatures, many more bacteria thrive at temperatures above 40 degrees F.


Posted by


Jason Channell     Twitter - Home Inspection LinkedIn Twitter - Home Inspection

Diadem Property Inspections
(888) 699-8710

Learn more:

Learn more:

Michigan Builder's License 2101198700
Environmental Solutions Association 3818 -- Certified Mold Inspector & Assessor, Certified Allergen Inspector
International Indoor Air Quality Commission CC1983 --  Indoor Environmental Certified Consultant


Comments (4)

Mark Rubley
Rockford IL Real Estate Team Leader serving all of the North Central Illinois Stateline Area. Listing Specialist. - Rockford, IL
Rockford Realtor,Rockford Il Real Estate Home Team

Haven't read anything on this subject. Thx, Mark KW Rockford, IL

Feb 13, 2011 01:38 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Jason- We often forget that putting something in the fridge isn't  always enough.    It's a good practice to toss and clean at least once a week. 

Feb 13, 2011 01:41 PM
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Whats that old saying..oh yeah "Life begins at 40". Betcha didn't know that was a 'bacterial quote'. Hey that would make a great blog title.

Feb 14, 2011 03:54 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Have you been looking in my refrigerator? J I guess I have a job to do this evening after all my ActiveRain chores are done.

Mar 07, 2011 01:59 PM