Everyone loves to have organized drawers and cabinets, but one thing I am rarely asked to organize (twice in my career as an organizer) is a refrigerator. I’m not sure if refrigerators are perceived as more private or if people don’t think it’s an issue if it doesn’t smell, but most people seem to want to clean out their own refrigerator. So, here are some tips to help you complete that task.
When cleaning out a refrigerator that hasn’t been tended to in many months, I like to tackle it in the following manner:
1. Gather supplies. Since food is heavy and some food containers might be breakable, it is important to use two large trash bags nested one inside the other or contractor bags from The Home Depot. You will also want a bucket with fresh, warm (not hot) water, mild dish detergent, a sponge, and a roll of paper towels or a few clean hand towels. These supplies will be good to have next to you when you wipe down the inside of the fridge.
2. Purge all food past its prime. Working from top to bottom, clear out all food from your refrigerator that is expired, rotten, and generally not good for eating. If you don’t know if something is edible, check StillTasty.com. If a food is in a jar or bottle and you can’t find its expiration date, visit the company’s website. Many websites have sections where you can enter the item’s bar code and learn its shelf life information.
3. Wipe it down. Give all the walls and shelves of your refrigerator a firm, but gentle scrubbing. Clean up all spills, leaks, and general yuckiness that can dirty up the inside of your refrigerator.
4. Organize. Start by putting like items together to make it easier to retrieve foods, as well as remembering what items you have. After doing this, consider employing some advanced organizing techniques. Add stackable, removable shelves or under shelf baskets to better separate items. Use shelf liners to make it easier to clean up future messes and to keep round foods from rolling.
5. Clean the containers. Now is a great time to wash all the reusable food containers that may have been storing rotted items.
If you have never cleaned and thoroughly organized your refrigerator, it is a great feeling when you are finished. It’s almost like having every piece of laundry in the house clean at the same time.