Makeover Your Fridge With These Cool Cleaning and Organization Tips

A refrigerator drawer full of produce.

Have you ever opened your fridge door and noticed how unorganized and chaotic your refrigerator has become? If you’ve taken a closer look, you may have noticed the spills, crumbs, and unorganized food clutter that seems to have accumulated over time. Old food hides in the back behind other food, the crisper has pieces of old vegetables in it, and there’s food on every shelf and in every corner. It's time to clean, revamp, and reorganize your fridge so that you know what you’ve got. An organized and clean fridge can save you both time and money.

1. Pull Everything Out

A pile of vegetables on a kitchen counter.

The first trick to cleaning the fridge is to pull everything out. While this may seem tedious and time-consuming, it will allow you to see everything you have and to wipe out the fridge without too much work. Presort the food by trying to put similar types of foods together such as sauces, produce, drinks, and produce. Throw anything old or expired away.

2. Wipe Every Surface Down

Use a spray cleaner and paper towels to wipe all shelves and drawers. You may need a wet and soapy scrubbing sponge to scrub at any sticky and difficult spills. Start by cleaning the top shelves so that anything you wipe off will get pushed onto lower shelves, which will get cleaned next. Make sure to clean all of the door shelves as well, where condiments like jelly, butter, and salad dressing tend to leak. When everything has been pushed down off the shelves, pull out the produce drawers and any other drawers and wash them in the kitchen sink. While the drawers are drying, wipe the bottom inside of the fridge out, from back to front, and the sides, too. Put the drawers back when they’re dry.

3. Get Plastic Bowls and Baskets

An organized and clean fridge filled with food.

Acquire a few organizing bowls and baskets, which can be found at the dollar store, online, and in most home stores. Plastic is best because it can be washed and wiped at any time and then reused. Make sure the bowls or baskets are short enough to fit on the shelves and that they’re clear or made so you can see what’s inside. These can be used to sort foods later on.

4. Create Sections for Different Food Types

While the easiest thing to do is just pile your food randomly into the fridge, when you begin to put things back, be sure to have designated “sections” for different food types. For example, all vegetables could go into the drawers at the bottom in order to stay the most fresh. Meats and cheeses might go in another drawer in the fridge. Place all of the dressings together on the fridge door, and the condiments in a group. Make a section just for the drinks. The organizing bowls can be used to hold a variety of different food items, as long as they’re sorted and easily accessible. Examples of food sorted and placed together might be refrigerated fruits, butter and eggs, fresh bread and rolls, or fresh meats like chicken and beef. Play around with where sections and organizing containers will go based on the height and size of the containers. Label them if you’d like. The options are endless.

5. Put Everything in its New, Clean Place

Someone holding a cloth cleaning a refrigerator.

If any bottles and containers have leaked and have dried food on them, be sure to wipe them off with a wet paper towel before placing them back in your nice, clean fridge. Now that your sections for everything have been designated, food will be much easier to find and can be used before it expires. The trick is to keep things sorted and make sure anyone living with you knows the new system and sticks to it. While it takes a bit of initial elbow grease and planning, it can save plenty of time and money in the long run.