How to Declutter the Fridge

Declutter the fridge in seven simple and manageable steps!

Declutter the fridge - here's how!

You may not think the contents of the fridge could be considered clutter.

But if your fridge is filled to the brim and its contents start falling out every time you open the doors, or it takes you a few minutes to find a particular food item because you have to move a lot of things around to find it, then yes – your refrigerator needs a good declutter!

If you are like most of us, an afternoon spent decluttering the fridge may not be something you get excited about. It is a task that we put off until it is actually too late. Soon, you find yourself wondering why there is a weird odor in your refrigerator. Ugh!

Regular decluttering and cleaning of the fridge is a task that you should not put off. A cluttered and unclean fridge promotes the growth of germs and bacteria inside and this can cause your food to spoil quickly. Proper air circulation inside the fridge is very important to keep your food clean and fresh longer.

declutter the fridge
image from BHG

Apart from that, an unorganized refrigerator makes it look like it is fuller than it actually is. Once you declutter the fridge, you get to use the space more effectively and have room for more food items.

Feeling overwhelmed already? The good news is that… it is not that hard to declutter your fridge!

How to Declutter the Fridge

Step 1. Remove the items on the door and on top of the fridge.

Unplug the fridge and start by decluttering what is on top of your fridge and what is on its doors.

Remove the items on the door and on top of the fridge
image from EDIBLE GEOGRAPHY

The surface of your fridge can be a magnet for paper clutter – your kids’ artworks, receipts, bills, notes to each other – it can be so messy to look at!

Why not make a command station where all of this paper clutter can have a rightful space? For example, hang a corkboard in the hallway or hang a paper organizer over the door of your pantry.

The top of the fridge should also be cleared out. We usually use this space to put away food items that should be kept out of reach by the kids and end up forgetting about them.

Instead of placing items on the fridge that you can easily forget, why not just place a few decorative items on it? Or place a nice-looking refrigerator cover and keep that space blank and free!

Step 2. Clear out the fridge.

Make room in your kitchen Island or dining table. Place the contents of your fridge here when you take them out.

To make this task less consuming, check expiration dates as you take out each item. Then sort in two piles. One is for the old and expired food items (those that you’ll get rid of already), and the other for the items that you will keep (those that you’ll put back in the fridge later).

Clear out the fridge
image from THE SOCCER MOM

Step 3. Clean the fridge.

Now that the refrigerator is empty, this is your chance to give it a thorough cleaning!

Remove the shelves and drawers of the fridge. If they are made out of glass, set them aside for a little while. When they have warmed up to room temperature, clean them. This will prevent the material from cracking.

If the shelves and drawers are made out of plastic or metal, you can clean them right away.

With the shelves and drawers out of the way, clean the inside of the refrigerator now. Make sure you have multiple cleaning rags nearby. Use warm water and a little dish soap for cleaning. Start at the top and work your way down.

Pay special attention to the back of the fridge where most spills gather and the crevices where the drawers and shelves are.

When you’re done with the inside of the refrigerator, clean the exterior part too. Use an old toothbrush to clear out the stubborn gunk between the shelves and the refrigerator’s doors and the seals.

Once you have cleaned everything, you may now return the shelves and drawers. Make sure they are dry.

start cleaning
image from SAMSUNG

Step 4. Add a deodorizer.

To help avoid unpleasant smells from lingering in the fridge, add a deodorizer. There are special refrigerator deodorizers that you can buy in packs. But if you want to save money, then just make a DIY fridge deodorizer. You will only need baking soda and a few drops of lemon essential oil.

Put this at the back part of your fridge – just make sure that they will not spill on your food items.

You may also use charcoal. It also absorbs the unpleasant odor in your fridge.

Step 5. Start the purge.

Now work on the pile that has the old and expired food items. Some of us make the mistake of thinking that we can stretch a food’s lifespan as long as it stays in the fridge.

A little clarity on the best before dates

The “best before” date that you see in the food package refers to the quality of the food. Yes, some food items will still be safe to consume past their expiration dates but you will notice that the quality has deteriorated already.

One thing we also often overlook is that the “best before” date only applies to food that has not been opened yet. Once you open a package or a container, the contents are already exposed and they will deteriorate faster – even if you keep them in the refrigerator. This is why food items that have been opened may expire way before their expiration dates.

Toss and get rid of everything that has been beyond their expiration dates and those that have been opened for a good number of months already.

On leftovers

Also, you should be aware that you should consume your leftovers within 5 days. Keeping them beyond that will lose its quality and freshness.

For the food items that are still good

After going through the toss pile, double-check the food items that are still good and start purging those too. I know these items are still good to eat but assess them carefully – do you use these food items all the time? There may be items that you opened but found that you do not like or items that you bought to make one recipe and never got to use again.

Do not worry – I will not ask you to get rid of these items. But I’ll ask you to consider donating them to the homeless, to a food bank, or to a local food pantry. This is more feasible than letting them take space in your refrigerator simply because they are not expired yet.

When it comes to food donations, call ahead and check what items are accepted. For instance, some food banks will only accept unopened food products.

Step 6. Return your food items.

When it comes to returning your food items back in the clean fridge, it helps a lot when you already have an organization system in place.

Return your food items
image from LIFE BY LEANNA

The benefits of keeping your fridge organized are not only about having more space or increasing its efficiency. It is also about aesthetics and helps give a relaxing vibe to your kitchen.

There are a lot of ways to organize your food items. Here are some.

  1. Categorize them and keep each category in containers.
  2. Store leftovers in smaller and stackable containers. This will save space.
  3. Place leftovers and perishable food items in a spot that makes these the first things you see when opening the fridge. This will help you avoid forgetting these leftovers and wasting them.
  4. Keep unopened food and drinks in the pantry to have more space in the fridge. Cool them when you know you’ll eat or drink them.

Step 7. Last but not the least, declutter regularly.

Declutter regularly
image from BY SOPHIA LEE

I can’t emphasize this enough. Now that you have cleaned and organized the refrigerator, make sure to declutter regularly.

All your efforts in decluttering the fridge today will yield little result if you do not turn it into a routine. The refrigerator is an appliance that everyone in the house uses every day. It can easily turn into the mess it was in just a few months, maybe even weeks!

Decluttering the fridge as part of your regular house cleaning routine will help maintain its efficiency and tidiness. Most importantly, this will prevent food to get wasted.

Keep the fridge clean.

The refrigerator is one of the things that you should prioritize in the kitchen since it is the appliance that keeps food fresh and makes them last longer.

The first step will always be to declutter the fridge. It will help you locate everything you need easily – which saves electricity since you spend less time with the fridge doors open. And I can’t say this enough again – it prevents food wastes.

When you declutter the fridge regularly, it stays clean for a longer time. You also do not have to worry about the refrigerator becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.


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