Your refrigerator is arguably one of the most important items in your kitchen. The fridge keeps your food cold, preserving it for future use and maintaining a fresh taste. We use it so often that it’s bound to get a little messy. And while you should always do routine cleaning, it’s still important to keep it as clean and organized as possible between cleanings.
Whether you’ve got a commercial-sized fridge or a mini one, here’s how to organize a refrigerator so it stays clean for longer and you can easily find whatever you need whenever you need it.
1. Separate your fruits and vegetables
There’s a reason your refrigerator has separate drawers for fruits and vegetables. While many of us disregard them and throw whatever we want in the different drawers, using them properly helps to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh for longer.
Fruit does better in low humidity and will last longer when there’s less moisture, so its drawer will keep things dry. On the other hand, vegetables thrive in humidity, so its drawer allows more moisture.
2. Wait to cut your produce
Cutting your fruits and vegetables before storing them makes them go bad faster. And, once they’ve been cut, you need to put them into a separate container, so they’ll take up more room in the refrigerator.
Wait to cut your fruits and vegetables until you’re ready to eat or use them. Doing so will also help save space and keep items good for longer.
3. Fill your fridge
Your fridge runs most efficiently and keeps food the freshest when it’s between 60 percent and 70 percent full. If it’s too full, your refrigerator has to work extra hard to keep things cold and not all of the food will receive proper airflow, so it will go bad faster. And if it’s too empty, it has only air to keep cool, and air doesn’t retain the cold as well as actual food and drink items.
If your refrigerator has too much inside, it’s time to clean it out. And if you need to fill it up, you can add a few jugs of water to help retain the cool temperature.
4. Put non-perishables in the door
The door is the warmest part of your fridge, so it’s best to keep non-perishables on the shelves in the door. Things like condiments, butter and margarine, cheeses and eggs won’t go bad quickly, so they’re perfect for the door.
Avoid putting things like milk and meats in the door, since they’ll rot quickly if it’s too warm.
5. Place perishables near the front
Not sure how to organize a refrigerator best for perishable items? While you don’t want perishables in the door where it’s warmest, you don’t want to tuck them in the back. Keep your meats, fish and milk near the front where you see them frequently — reminding you to use them before they go bad.
6. Store meats and seafood on the bottom
Items like meat, fish and crustaceans have fluid in them that, when uncooked, can contaminate other foods. To reduce the risk of these liquids dripping down onto other things in the fridge, store your meats and seafood on the bottom shelf. You should also keep them in containers with high edges so fluids won’t spill if the items get bumped on accident.
7. Line your shelves
To make cleaning quick and easy, line your shelves. You can either buy plastic or silicone shelf liners or use plastic wrap. If something spills or your refrigerator simply needs cleaning, you only need to remove the liner and replace it — no scrubbing required!
8. Remove odors with activated carbon
Many people use baking soda to soak up unfavorable scents in the fridge, but activated carbon actually works better for getting rid of odors. Typically used for pet containers, activated carbon is found at pet stores.
You’ll use it in basically the same way as baking soda. Set the container inside the refrigerator where it can absorb the scent.
9. Organize condiments
Figuring out how to organize a refrigerator condiment shelf can become a mess very quickly. Keeping bottles upright without them falling over makes it hard to keep track of which bottles are full and which are almost empty. To help them stand up and stay in place, place an egg carton in the bottom and put the top ends of condiment bottles in each indentation.
This also makes it nice when you use the condiments because you don’t need to shake the bottles to get to what’s inside — it’s already at the top!
10. Add a Lazy Susan
If you’re constantly reaching over food to get to the back of the shelf in the fridge, try using a Lazy Susan. This will make it easier to reach things and keep food from being forgotten in the back.
11. Leverage magnets
Magnets aren’t limited to the outside of the fridge! Use small magnetic containers for inside the fridge, where you can store small items you want to keep fresh, like pomegranate seeds and other seeds or nuts.
This will allow you to put them on the sides of the refrigerator, leaving shelf space for other food items. There are also magnetic bottle holders that will store your metal-top bottles on the ceiling of the fridge, so you don’t need to reach between things to grab yourself a cold beverage.
12. Hang resealable bags
Storing things in resealable bags is practical, but storing them is a different story. They’re hard to stack and are easily forgotten if other containers are in front of them.
To keep them in easy reach, you can buy a Ziploc bag holder that will hold your bags in an organized fashion or you can use binder clips to keep them together and clip them to the edge of a shelf.
13. Refrigerate only what needs it
There are some food items that we refrigerate, but don’t actually need to keep chilled. Putting only items that need refrigerating in the refrigerator will leave more room for the items that do need it.
If you’ve got potatoes, tomatoes, onions or watermelon (to name a few), you only need to refrigerate them after they’ve been cut open. So keep that whole watermelon off the shelf and store it on the counter!
14. Label with a marker
Labels can help you organize a refrigerator and help you find items more easily. Use a dry erase, wet erase or chalk marker to write labels on shelves or even the walls, then wipe them away when it’s time to change!
15. Wrap cheese in wax paper
Blocks of cheese often come in plastic and it’s tempting to store them in a resealable bag once you’ve opened the original packaging. However, cheese keeps for longer and tastes better when it’s wrapped in wax paper.
Plus, plastic bags can look messy, especially if they’re much larger than the cheese they’re holding, and wrapping it in wax makes it look cleaner in the fridge.
Refrigerator organization helps keep things clean
The key to keeping your refrigerator clean is keeping it organized! Like with an organized pantry, your food will stay fresh for longer, you won’t forget about the items you put in your fridge and you’ll be able to quickly find everything you need.
Use the refrigerator organization tips above to organize your own fridge and keep it clean and tidy!