Photo credit: Indi Samarajiva
I’m a pretty neat and organized person in every aspect of my life except one. The fridge. No matter how organized my kitchen is with everything in it’s proper place or my bedroom is with a neatly made bed and clothes put away, my refrigerator is always a disaster area. The leftovers in Tupperware containers mounding and countless condiments crowding the door. Forgotten beer from last year’s 4th of July party taking over the bottom produce bin and half full jars of pasta sauce lingering in the back of the middle shelf. There may or may not be an unidentifiable spill hardening in the bottom back corner. It’s just a bad scene in there. I don’t know how it happens, but, every time I open my fridge, it’s utter chaos inside.
But it doesn’t have to be because keeping a clean, fresh fridge isn’t nearly as hard as it seems. So, in an effort to motivate myself to kick up the fridge organization, I’ve compiled some tips and tricks to help us all tackle the linebacker in the kitchen.
An empty fridge is easier to clean than one bulging at the seams, so, before you get down to work, discard any food stuffs that have expired. If you’re like me, there are plenty of condiments hanging out that have passed their prime that need to be dumped, rinsed, and their containers recycled. Any leftovers that have been sitting around for more than 5 days should be thrown out as well.
Once you’ve cleared out the undesirables, remove the produce bins and the shelves in the door (if that’s possible on your model). Fill them with warm water and a gentle soap to make scrubbing them easier. While they soak, use a gentle all-purpose cleanser (ours is a great, fresh-scented option!) to get those shelves sparkling and clean. Now is also a good time to consider the layout of your shelves. Reposition them to make organization easier if needed.
While you’re cleaning the shelves, don’t forget about the bottom of the fridge and all of the walls. Spills and splashes have a way of getting everywhere in your fridge, so you’ll want to pay close attention to the bottom corners especially.
If your fridge is in need of intensive cleaning, store all of your perishables in a cooler and unplug the fridge while you work. This will save on your energy bill. But don’t take too long because your freezer will only stay cold for so long!
We all likely grew up in a house where there was an opened box of baking soda sitting in the back of the fridge. This little orange box trapped odors and helped freshen the inside of the fridge. To kick this process into warp speed, pour the contents of the box onto a shallow tray or plate and let it sit in the middle of your fridge until the odor is diminished or gone. You can even add some fresh coffee grounds to the mix to help kick odors out. Your fridge may have a temporary lingering scent of coffee, but anything is better than those nasty smells that you’re evicting!
Once you’ve finished the cleaning portion of the project, be mindful when you start refilling your fridge. Use clear organizing bins to help make sure that everything has it’s place. Dedicate each shelf in your door to a different purpose. And wipe down all the bottles and containers before putting them back in! There’s no use in spending all this time cleaning if you just load the fridge back up with grimy, crusty bottles! As you put food back into the fridge, label it clearly with an expiration date and place foods that are going to expire soon towards the front. Using the first in-first out approach to organization will help you avoid a build up of unused and expired goods.
Keep a crinkled paper bag in the bottom of your produce drawers. This will help keep your fruits and veggies fresh while eliminating any nasty odors.
If, after the massive cleanout, you find that you’re low on food, fill a gallon container with water and set it in the back of your fridge. A full fridge can regulate it’s temperature better, and this will help trick it into thinking it’s full until you can hit up the grocery store.
And don’t forget to wipe down the OUTSIDE of your fridge when you’re all done! Make sure the outside is as sparkly clean as the inside.
Do you have any tips for keeping your fridge clean and organized? Share in the comments!