Your refrigerator is arguably one of the most important parts of your kitchen. The refrigerator keeps your food fresh, preserves it for future use, and maintains a fresh taste. We use it so often that it’s bound to get a bit messy. And while you should still perform routine cleaning, it’s still important to keep it as clean and organized as possible between cleanings.
Whether you have a commercial size refrigerator or a mini, here’s how to organize a refrigerator so that it stays clean longer, and you can easily find everything you need when 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 ignore them and throw whatever we want in different drawers, using them correctly helps keep your fruits and veggies fresher for longer.
Fruits do best in low humidity and will last longer when there is less humidity, so its drawer will keep things dry. On the other hand, vegetables thrive in moisture, so its drawer allows for more moisture.
2. Wait to cut your products
Cutting your fruits and vegetables before storing them makes them spoil more quickly. And, once they have been cut, you need to put them in a separate container, so that they take up more space in the refrigerator.
Wait until you cut your fruits and vegetables until you are ready to eat or use them. It will also save space and keep items in good condition for longer.
3. Fill your fridge
Your refrigerator works most efficiently and keeps food the freshest when it’s 60 to 70 percent full. If it’s too full, your fridge has to work really hard to keep things cool and not all food will get proper airflow, so it will spoil faster. And if it’s too empty, it only has air to keep it cool, and the air doesn’t hold the cold as well as food and drink.
If your fridge has too much of it, it’s time to clean it up. And if you need to refill it, you can add a few pitchers of water to help keep the temperature cool.
4. Put non-perishable food in the door
The door is the hottest part of your refrigerator, so it’s best to keep non-perishable items on the door shelves. Things like condiments, butter and margarine, cheeses and eggs won’t spoil quickly, so they’re great for the door.
Avoid putting milk and meat in the door, as they will rot quickly if it is too hot.
5. Place perishables near the front
Confused about how best to organize a refrigerator for perishable items? While you don’t want perishables in the door where it’s hottest, you don’t want to put them in the back. Keep your meats, fish, and milk near the front where you see them frequently – remembering to use them before they go bad.
6. Keep meats and seafood at the bottom.
Foods like meat, fish and shellfish contain liquids which, when not cooked, can contaminate other foods. To reduce the risk of these liquids spilling onto other things in the refrigerator, store your meats and seafood on the bottom shelf. You should also keep them in containers with high edges so that liquids do not spill if objects are accidentally bumped.
7. Align your shelves
To make cleanup quick and easy, line your shelves. You can either buy plastic or silicone shelf liners or use plastic wrap. If something spills or your fridge just needs to be cleaned, all you need to do is remove the liner and replace it – no cleaning required!
8. Eliminate odors with activated charcoal
Many people use baking soda to absorb unfavorable odors in the refrigerator, but activated charcoal actually works better at removing odors. Typically used for pet containers, activated carbon is found in pet stores.
You will use it basically the same way you use baking soda. Place the container inside the refrigerator where it can absorb the scent.
9. Organize the condiments
Figuring out how to organize a refrigerator condiment shelf can become a mess very quickly. Keeping bottles upright without them falling makes it difficult to know which bottles are full and which are nearly empty. To help them stand up and stay in place, place an egg carton in the bottom and place the top ends of the condiment bottles in each recess.
It also makes it nice when using the condiments as you don’t have 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 reach the bottom of the refrigerator shelf, try using a Lazy Susan. This will make it easier to access items and prevent food from being left behind in the back.
11. Take advantage of magnets
Magnets aren’t limited to the outside of the fridge! Use small magnetic containers for the inside of the refrigerator, where you can store small items that you want to keep cool, like pomegranate seeds and other seeds or nuts.
This will allow you to place them on the sides of the refrigerator, leaving room on the shelves for other foods. There are also magnetic bottle holders that will store your metal-capped bottles on the ceiling of the refrigerator, so you don’t have to go between things to get yourself a cold drink.
12. Hang resealable bags
Storing things in resealable bags is convenient, but storing them is another story. They are difficult to stack and are easily forgotten if there are other containers in front of them.
To keep them handy, you can purchase a Ziploc bag holder that will hold your bags in an organized fashion or you can use binding clips to hold them together and tie them to the edge of a shelf.
13. Refrigerate only what needs it.
There are some foodstuffs that we refrigerate, but don’t actually need to keep cool. Putting only the items that need to be refrigerated in the refrigerator will leave more room for the items that need it.
If you have potatoes, tomatoes, onions, or watermelon (to name a few), you only need to refrigerate them after you cut them. So keep that whole watermelon off the shelf and put it on the counter!
14. Label with a marker
Tags can help you organize a refrigerator and find items more easily. Use a dry erase, water erase or chalk marker to write labels on shelves or even walls, then wipe them off when it’s time for a change!
15. Wrap the cheese in waxed paper
Cheese blocks are often plastic and it is tempting to keep them in a resealable bag after the original packaging has been opened. However, cheese keeps longer and tastes better when wrapped in waxed paper.
Plus, plastic bags can look messy, especially if they’re much larger than the cheese they contain, and wrapping them in wax makes it cleaner in the fridge.
Organizing the fridge helps keep things clean
The key to keeping your refrigerator clean is to keep it organized! As with an organized pantry, your food will stay fresher for longer, you won’t forget what items you put in your fridge, and you can find everything you need quickly.
Use the refrigerator organizing tips above to organize your own refrigerator and keep it clean and tidy!