How to Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator

Everyone has found at least one or two containers of mystery substance at the back of their fridge or bought multiples of items they already had. For an appliance we use daily, fridge organization can be a tough task to keep up with. Whether you are looking to cut back on grocery bills, keep food waste to a minimum, or are just trying to figure out where that smell is coming from—here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to clean and how to organize a refrigerator:


How to Clean Your Refrigerator

1.  Empty the Fridge

Take out all your food and use this as a chance to go through expiration dates and leftover containers to see what needs to go in the trash. Also, take stock of what you have and write down items you’re out of or will need to replace. Don’t get too caught up in this step, It doesn’t have to be a full list yet, just a quick glance.


2.  Remove the shelves and drawers

First take out the shelves and give them a good wash with some dish soap, white vinegar solution, or your preferred cleaner. If you have glass shelves you can even use window cleaner. If you have a large refrigerator it may be easier to wash the shelves in the bathtub. For caked on messes, soak the shelves in warm water and soap and use a scrubbing pad to get them clean. Once that’s done, put the drawers in the sink and soak them in warm water and soap while you tackle the inside of the fridge.


3.  Clean inside

Once all the removable pieces are out, spray down the inside of the fridge with a cleaner. You can use a diluted bleach solution, bottled solution, white vinegar solution, or soap and water. Again, for any tough messes, use a stiff scrubbing pad to get them off.  Do not use steel wool, as it is too abrasive and can damage the interior surface. Once everything has been wiped down, use a clean cloth or paper towels to dry everything. Drying is an important step; you don’t want to leave standing puddles of liquid, as it is too cold in the fridge for them to evaporate. Dry the shelves and drawers too before putting them back in place.


How to Organize Your Refrigerator

Now that your fridge is clean, you can start putting items back. But don’t rush to stuff items into any place they fit, correct placement in the fridge can help your food stay fresh longer. As you go through putting things away, now is a good time to go over your list from earlier and add any items you missed.


1.  Use the Crisper Drawers

Did you know the drawers at the bottom of your fridge have humidity control settings to help fresh produce from going bad? Different manufacturers label them differently but what you are essentially doing is equipping one drawer for high humidity and another for low. Some brands label their settings as fruit (low humidity) and vegetable (high humidity). However, not all fruits like low humidity and not all vegetables like high. Check out this list to see what produce likes what humidity—and remember not to overfill your drawers!


2.  Meat Drawer

Many refrigerators often have a third drawer that is at an angle. This is usually used for meats, poultry, and fish. You’ll notice that this drawer gets closer to the back of the fridge than the crisper drawer, this keeps the drawer closer to the fridge coil, keeping the drawer colder, which is ideal for protein. If you don’t have a drawer like this, keep your meats on the bottom shelf at the back, where it is coldest.


3.  Inside the Door

Inside the door is the warmest spot in your refrigerator and is ideal for keeping condiments and drinks. These items also tend to be smaller, so they are easy to store here and leave your more room inside to store larger items. Do not store milk, eggs, or butter in the door as the warmer temperature will make them spoil quicker


4.  Top Shelves

The top shelves are slightly warmer than the bottom, but they also maintain the most consistent temperature. This makes them great for storing dairy products, ready-to-eat meals, and leftovers.


5.  Bottom Shelves

As previously stated, this is the coldest part of the fridge and is ideal for keeping meat, poultry, fish, and even eggs.


6.  Old in the Front, New in the Back

Even if you keep all your foods in the best places for freshness, things can still go bad if you forget they’re there. When adding new items to the fridge, whether it’s leftovers or your latest grocery run, it’s good practice to pull any older or previously opened items to the front of the shelf and store the new items toward the back. This way you can keep things that need to be eaten soon right in front of you where they won’t be forgotten.


7.  What Not to Refrigerate

Not all items need to be chilled to stay fresh. In fact, certain types of produce will rot quicker with refrigeration. Items that can be safely stored outside of the fridge are: potatoes, onions, apples, bananas and avocados.


Now that you’ve got the fridge in order, maybe it’s time to organize the pantry.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Cory Olesen

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 4.6.2020

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