Freshen & Organize Your Fridge
Though arguably the most important appliance in your kitchen, the refrigerator is often overlooked during routine cleanings. Without regular upkeep, stains build up, food gets lost and smells can start to arise. Fortunately, we’ve put together a few hacks to help you easily freshen and organize your fridge.
Step 1: Deep Clean Your Fridge
Make sure to check your manufacturer’s recommendations, but most suggest a deep clean every three to four months. To start, transfer all the food from your refrigerator and freezer to a cooler. Remove the shelves and drawers and soak them in warm, soapy water in your sink. To create a deodorizing solution, stir two tablespoons baking soda into one quart hot water.
While everything soaks, use a cloth to wipe down the interior of your refrigerator with the baking soda solution, working from the top down. Dry with a clean towel. Next, to keep things up and running efficiently, unplug the refrigerator and vacuum around the condenser coils to clear out dust and gunk. Finally, put the drawers back in place and return your food.
After everything is back in place, give the exterior a wipe-down with a cleaning solution recommended by the manufacturer. To reduce odors, cut the lid off a fresh box of baking soda and store it in the back of the fridge. Write the date on the front of the box and replace the baking soda after about three months.
Step 2: Organize Your Food
To reduce food waste and organize your fridge like a pro, there are a few simple guidelines and hacks you can follow for both your fridge and freezer.
Fridge organization tips:
- Don’t stack food (like bread) on top of the fridge – the heat released will accelerate its spoilage.
- Inside the fridge, store ready-to-eat foods at the top, leftovers in the middle and milk near the bottom.
- Leave ample space between foods so you can easily see what’s there and so that cold air can circulate around them.
- Store condiments in the fridge door; they’re not as temperature sensitive so they won’t be affected when the door opens and closes.
- Stash your freshest produce in one drawer and older items in another so you know which to eat first.
Freezer organization tips:
- Freeze items in smaller portions so you can thaw only what you want to eat.
- Inside the freezer, store seafood at the top, beef and pork in the middle and poultry near the bottom (follow the same guidelines when storing these items in the fridge).
Refrigerator storage solutions:
If you find soda cans rolling around inside the fridge, or if you have a hard time keeping smaller items in one place, consider adding a few refrigerator storage solutions. Whether you have a side-by-side refrigerator or you’re trying to make the most of your mini, fridge organization ideas come easy with help from accessories like lazy Susans, plastic baskets, drink dispensers and stackable bins. If sticky drips are a problem, consider laying plastic place mats down over the shelves.
Clear baskets or bins with labels allow you to store food by types, making it easy to keep things like yogurts, drinks or dressings together. Fruits and veggies are easier to see – and more likely to be used while they’re in their prime – if they’re stored in clear, stackable bins after each shopping trip. Plus, labels make it even easier to find things at a glance. To reduce food waste, consider labeling one basket “eat first” and using it for items that are about to reach their sell-by date.
A few additions to your freezer can help keep frozen foods in order as well. Use freezer-safe storage containers to stack pre-portioned meals, or storage bins to keep like-items together. Freezer organizers can make meal planning easier and ensure less food gets lost to freezer burn.
Step 3: Make it a Weekly Habit
Once your fridge is in tip-top shape, you can keep it that way by immediately tossing expired items and washing off any bottles or jars that have sticky residue before putting them back. Once a week, spend a few minutes organizing the contents and wiping down the interior before you do your grocery shopping.
A weekly cleanup not only allows you keep track of what’s being eaten and what’s not, it also helps tame that pile-up of wayward (and expiring) items that can quickly overtake a fridge. As you’re cooking throughout the week, consider making large-batch items and storing them in your new stackable containers to maximize space and make future meals easier.
Enjoying your neat and tidy fridge? Try tackling the whole kitchen with these clever tips that’ll get the whole family cleaning, or keep the momentum going with cleaning solutions for every other room in the house.