The average household wastes $600 a year throwing away spoiled food according to Good Housekeeping. How many times have you found a container at the back of the refrigerator and the contents have morphed into something unrecognizable, furry, and inedible? How about the vegetables at the bottom of the drawer that have become soft and slimy because they, too, were forgotten Clean Out the Refrigerator Day is November 15 and these ideas will inspire you to organize your refrigerator resulting in more space, easy access, and fewer unintentional science experiments.
Before getting to the fun stuff, it is best to start fresh. By fresh, we mean clean. Take this opportunity to empty everything out of the refrigerator and discard all the unidentifiable leftovers and condiments that are well beyond their expiration date. Take note of items that do not need to be in the refrigerator such as vinegars, unopened jars of salsa or jelly, unopened bottles of salad dressing, or any other shelf stable items. They are space-eaters and can be stored elsewhere in the kitchen.
Follow this guide for cleaning the refrigerator. Consider unplugging it to save energy during this process.
- Wipe down the walls and shelves. Be sure to clean the shelf seams and the rubber door seal. Use an old toothbrush and a spritz of cleaner to dislodge gunk from crevices. Clean stuck-on messes with a damp scrubber sponge sprinkled with baking soda to gently remove dirt and odors.
- Remove the drawers and place them in the sink. Scrub the drawers with a sponge, warm water, and liquid dish soap. Leave them out to air-dry.
- While the drawers are drying, give the exterior a good wipe down. Pull the refrigerator out to clean dust and grime that has accumulated behind and underneath it. (Be sure to unplug the refrigerator to do this if you haven't already.)
- Return the dry drawers to their spots and line bins and door shelves with paper towels to catch drips.
Think outside the fridge!
Now for putting it all back. **Life changing tip alert** Many of the tools used for pantry or cabinet organization can also be used inside the refrigerator. Consider adding one of these options or a combination of them to your refrigerator for a more functional fridge with maximum storage and organization.
Racks and shelves
- Adding racks and shelves will allow you to neatly stack food as opposed to just adding it to a mystery pile somewhere in the fridge. Using hanging wire shelves under existing refrigerator shelves is a good way to add extra space as well.
Image via Lifehacker
Image via A Bowl Full of Lemons
Image via Martha Stewart
- An easy way to keep items at the back of the refrigerator accessible is by adding a turntable, or lazy susan, to the shelf. Add a small one in the rear corner of a deep shelf or a larger one that covers the entire shelf. Double decker turntables utilize valuable vertical space as well.
Image via Food Storage Moms Plastic Bins or Baskets
- Using plastic bins or baskets on fridge shelves helps prevent items from being forgotten in the depths of the fridge for weeks on end. It's so easy to just pull out the whole bin to find what you need. Organize them by type (all dairy in one, etc.) for best results. **Bonus: they help contain any drips or spills.
Image via A Thousand Words
Maintain Your Organized Refrigerator
Cleaning and organizing your refrigerator is just half the battle. Perhaps the hardest part is maintaining all the work you have done to this point, but it is important because the refrigerator is where you store perishables, it tends to be a highly accessed location, and improper storage can lead to spread of potentially harmful bacteria. Here are a few tips to help keep you on track:
- Immediately clean any spills or drips before they dry. Should you find any new science experiments at the bottom of the crisper drawer (you shouldn't since you are so organized now, but just in case), wipe away any residue left behind.
- The night before you take your trash to the curb, peruse your refrigerator and toss any expired foods or old leftovers. If you have multiple containers of a condiment, try to consolidate them as much as possible and throw away any resulting empty containers.
- Give your refrigerator a thorough cleaning every once in a while. Shoot for every six months or so.
Done regularly, these small tasks along with the assistance of an organizing tool or two will keep your refrigerator looking good enough to eat from.