I have a confession to make—it has been a long, loooong time since I have properly cleaned out my fridge. Like, embarrassingly long. The last time I cleaned it I was pregnant and I know that being launched into parenthood would probably mean it would be a while before it would be cleaned again (and boy was I right!).
My daughter is turning 3 soon, so I’ll let you do the math on that one. It has been a goal for me to do a full clean/purge/organization of our fridge, so I finally ordered the supplies I needed, picked a day, and got it all done in one afternoon—YES!
I basically did a similar approach when I organized my hall closet in one afternoon and I just love tackling one space at a time in my home as the opportunity arises. Feels so much more doable than trying to do it all at once! OK, here’s how I tackled the fridge beast and won!
There were some things I wasn’t that worried about leaving out for an hour (like ketchup or veggies), but I kept things like meat in their spot until right before I cleaned that area so they wouldn’t be out of the fridge long.
You could also add some ice to a cooler and keep them in there while you clean as well.
2.) Deep clean that empty fridge! I then wiped down and cleaned every surface of the fridge and took out all the drawers to wash them as well. Make sure to check and see how your shelves and drawers come out as you should be able to get all of those taken apart so you can clean each element separately.
I wasted a lot of time thinking my shelves didn’t come out until I realized on accident that they do and it made cleaning those areas so much easier since I wasn’t trying to clean crevasses with a toothpick (maybe check your user guide or search your fridge model online to see how yours come out).
I realized there had been two huge separate soy sauce spills in the main area and the condiment shelves at some point and as gross as it was, it felt amazing to clean all that syrupy gunk out. Blech!
Make sure to check and wipe any bottles/jars that have sticky bottoms from fridge spills so you are putting clean items back in the fridge.
3.) Get rid of old/unused food! Once your fridge is clean, you can start to look over your food and toss out anything that’s past its expiration date or a food you know you just aren’t going to eat (maybe you found out about a food sensitivity recently or bought two of something but didn’t like the first jar, etc.).
This is also when you will find any leftovers that you forgot about that have about 1″ of mold, so it feels super nice to get rid of any of those items too! Put any good giveaway food in a pile to see if a friend or neighbor can use it and then put the other containers in a pile to throw out or rinse and recycle.
It really is amazing the amount of stuff in a fridge that you can get rid of once you know it’s there! I also got rid of anything that had ingredients I avoid buying now (like a few things with high-fructose corn syrup) and added them to my shopping list to find a better version at the health food store.
I also realized that once I got rid of a ton of old/unused items I had way more room in my fridge door shelves, which has been great. I definitely had items stacked two (or three!) deep on those shelves, so it was always an avalanche waiting to happen and now everything has a spot.
4.) ORGANIZE! For food storage, we are constantly running out of containers for leftovers and packing lunches, so I got this set of stainless steel containers (also great for getting raw meat in if you are trying to do less waste when shopping), a set of glass containers with lids (they are oven-safe too which is nice), and these smaller round glass containers.
I’ve used whatever mason jars we’ve had around the house for food storage for a while, but they kept disappearing (I swear they are like socks—I don’t know where they go!) and I’m glad I switched to something that’s a little more stacking friendly in the fridge than the jars are.
These organizers were perfect for putting jars of similar food together and the handles make it easy to pull out a drawer, take what you need, and slide it back in.
I also added two of the small ones to the pull out drawer to separate sweet things like cookie dough and chocolate bars (I like my chocolate bars chilled) from lunch meat/bacon items.
That set comes with eight drawers, so you should have some leftover to get a jump on organizing your freezer as well.
This bottle organizer is perfect for holding wine/sparkling water, and I like that I can put it on a lower shelf since they are horizontal and it doesn’t have to go up top where it always seems to get crowded with taller items that have to be there.
Maybe it’s weird but I’ve always wanted one of these dispensers to keep your cans organized, and I chose that one as it has a lid on the top (some of them are open) so I can still set smaller containers on top of it—gotta keep that space usage in mind!
I love love storing/packing food in these Stasher bags (the snack size is super handy as well) and I made sure to get a container that would fit the width of the bags I have so I could stack them upright in the fridge—pretty and useful!
Look at that before and after! While there is still a lot of food in the fridge, it feels clearly defined what goes where, and there’s room for all the items we use. I love it!! Another nice perk of having more designated areas for foods is that it’s easier to find where things are after someone else in the house puts them away—berries go here, meat goes here, olives are here, etc.
So far, living with a clean and organized fridge has made me feel like I have a house cleaner that came in and did it for me, but I know it was me so I’ll take all the credit!!
Now I know if MTV Cribs stops by unannounced I won’t be ashamed to show them my fridge … come on by! xo. Laura
Looking for more kitchen organization tips? Be sure to check out our guide for organizing your home (room by room).