It’s the item that can often live forever on your to-do list, lurking around the corner, quietly humming to itself and waiting for your attention… the refrigerator.
One of our most-used appliances can often receive the least amount of love and attention. We get it — it can feel overwhelming or simply be a low priority in your organizing and cleaning world.
But for those of you who are ready to give that baby some time and attention, (we promise it won’t take too long), we’re here for you!
EMPTY, EMPTY, EMPTY
That’s right, take it all out. One by one, remove every item from your refrigerator. It might feel like a hassle, but that wide open fridge is going to make it much easier to clean and help you decide what you actually want to put back in.
It can be helpful to keep a cooler nearby to place all of the highly perishables that you want to keep. Check expiration dates as you remove items, and be sure to toss the food that’s well beyond its “best by.” Nobody needs that ketchup bottle from 2014! (Remember you can empty the contents and recycle the jars and bottles).
Toss the old leftovers. If it’s been more than three days since you made it, it’s probably ready to meet the trusty garbage can or composting bin.
Take out all the removable drawers and shelves and give them a good soak or wipe down with warm, soapy water and a rag. For the inevitable caked-on messes, mix several tablespoons of baking soda and warm water to create a paste and apply liberally. Leave for 10 minutes and then give it a little elbow grease.
Wipe down the interior of the fridge with a damp cloth or sponge. If you’re really feeling it, give those seals and handles some extra love too. Once the surfaces are all clean and dry, replace the drawers and shelves.
Now stop and admire how beautiful and clean your fridge is, just for a moment.
FALL IN LOVE WITH CONTAINERS
A core principle of Practically Perfect’s organizing philosophy is that each item should have a place. When it comes to the refrigerator, every compartment has a much needed companion. However, not all of us are blessed with a detail-oriented refrigerator.
If you don’t have very many drawers, or if you have items that tend to leak or drip, clear containers can be the perfect solution! We have a deep and abiding love for these beauties.
And for a little visual inspiration, we love what Kristy Wicks has done with them to organize her fridge:
They are the key to keeping your fruits, veggies and leftovers well-packaged and easily accessible, so there will be no more wondering what items are living (and spoiling) in the corners of your fridge.
You can stick a label on them or, if you prefer the look of handwritten labels, whip out a marker that can write on acrylic surfaces. We’re particularly fond of Chalk Ink Markers.
Speaking of keeping your food organized…
THE RULES OF FOOD, BECAUSE FOOD RULES
Store these on the bottom shelf where it’s nice and chilly — possibly in their own container.
Same place… bottom shelf! We’re all accustomed to seeing that lovely gallon stuck neatly in the fridge door, but it turns out that’s not the ideal place! The shelves inside the door are actually exposed to changing temperatures each time your fridge is open and closed. And if you have little ones in your homes like we do who love to stare into the fridge for hours on end yelling “there’s nothing to eat here” then this is especially important to ensuring that your milk stays frosty!
Keep them in their container (or get yourself a snazzy clear one so you’ll never be caught unaware / eggless) on the middle shelf, for a consistent temperature. That built in egg-holder in the door is tempting… but again with those pesky fluctuating temps!
Fruits and Veggies
Keep ‘em separate, in their own crisper drawers. Take them out of the packaging and leave them unwashed until you’re ready to enjoy them, for a longer shelf life. Tip: Tomatoes, stone fruit, and melons can be stored on the countertop, as cold temps will break them down quickly.
If your refrigerator has a drawer for this one, huzzah! If not, whip out another container and stick this one neatly on a bottom shelf. We love spin trays here – think yogurt, cream cheese, etc….
First and foremost — label label label! Don’t lose a delicious and already cooked meal because you don’t remember when you made it. These and other ready-to-go foods can be stored on that top shelf.
Finally, an item for the door! That compartment will work nicely to keep your butter at a comfortable temp and consistency.
Not like we need to say this one, but another win for the fridge door. (Or top shelf, depending.) Be sure to wipe them down before you stick them back in the fridge! Tip: Spin trays here too! Nothing gets lost in the back of the fridge!
A LITTLE CELEBRATION
You did it! That gleaming, well organized fridge is yours! Your drawers are gunk-free and labeled, there’s no more condiment bottles from before the last election, and you actually know exactly what’s on every shelf. We applaud you.