Did You Know?
Every time you open the door of the refrigerator, up to 30 percent of the cooled air can escape. Now you know why your mother kept admonishing you every time you just left the fridge door open.
The refrigerator is one of the most used home appliances―and also the one that often takes a lot of beating. We open the fridge countless times in a day, shove a million grocery items in random places, and don't even bother cleaning it till there is a milk spill that prevents us from cramming up the fridge with more items. Moreover, when we want to find that one condiment to add to a dish, we end up scattering a whole lot of other things while doing so. No wonder the fridge drawers and shelves tend to get dirty and disorganized in a matter of days.
Keeping the refrigerator drawers and shelves organized and clean not only helps in finding that elusive item when you really want to, but also keeps the food items fresher for a longer time. Not many of us may know it, but each drawer and shelf in the fridge is made to hold a designated item. Keeping the things in their proper places helps in preserving them for a longer time, and also prevents food items from rotting in the back of the fridge. This Buzzle article provides useful tips for cleaning the fridge, and helps you solve the refrigerator puzzle by placing the food items in their intended places.
Keeping Refrigerator Drawers and Shelves Organized
Discard the Extras
Take stock of the items in the fridge. Discard any out-of-date items or ones that you would probably never use. This will provide a lot of free space. If there are any leftovers that have been there in the fridge for more than four to five days, then this is a good time to throw them into the trash. This also includes fruits and vegetables that have been in the produce drawer far too long. Empty the contents of the fridge, and place them on the table.
Handy Tip: Unplug the refrigerator before cleaning it.
Clean the Drawers and Shelves
Once you have discarded all the extras from the fridge, remove the movable parts of the fridge. This includes the drawers and shelves. Fill a tub with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Wash all the drawers and shelves in warm water to remove any stains left behind by spills. A word of caution for all those who have refrigerators with glass shelves. Take the shelf out, and let the glass adjust to room temperature before placing it in warm water, else you can end up with a shattered shelf instead of a clean one. For meat juice spills, use a disinfectant.
Rinse and dry the shelves and drawers with a dry dish towel. Apart from the drawers and shelves, wipe and clean the insides of the fridge using a damp sponge or towel. Use an old toothbrush to remove the grime off the rubber seals and seams of the refrigerator shelves.
Handy Tip: Use baking soda and water to clean the parts of the refrigerator. Not only will it remove all the stains and dirt, but it will also get rid of the bad odor.
Categorize the Refrigerator Items
Sort all the items in the refrigerator into categories. This can include things like:
Handy Tip: You can categorize the refrigerator items based on your usage. For example, if you have kids who raid the fridge a lot of times looking for snacks, then create a separate category for healthy snacks.
- Condiments - salad dressing and sauces
- Produce - vegetables and fruits
- Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and butter
Allocating the Refrigerator Zones
Placing the food items in their intended location preserves the quality of the food and makes it last longer. While allocating specific food zones for different items, there are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind. This includes concerns, like how to safely handle food to prevent foodborne illness, and the time foods normally last in the fridge. Here is how you can create specific zones for food items.
Store leftovers and beverages (other than milk) on the top shelf. You can also keep prepared meals and other items which you need to serve cold or reheat on the top shelf. Glass or plastic storage containers are best for storing leftovers. If you have too many containers with leftovers, then it is a great idea to label the containers with the storage date. Place the container with most recently cooked food behind the earlier leftovers. Do not store leftovers for more than four days.
The middle shelf has the least temperature fluctuations, and is thus the best spot to store foods like eggs. Instead of transferring the eggs to the fridge egg tray located on the door of the fridge, keep the eggs in their original cartons. Place the cartons on the middle shelf of the fridge.
Although milk is often kept on the top shelf, it should ideally be at the bottom where the refrigerator temperatures are the lowest. Store the milk in the bottom shelf, all the way back. This is also the spot to store all packaged meat. If there is no separate meat compartment in the fridge, then wrap the meat in freezer paper before placing it on the bottom shelf. This will help in avoiding the meat juices from ruining other foods and contain the inevitable mess.
Vegetables and fruits are kept in refrigerator drawers right at the bottom of the fridge. Vegetables are stored in the moistest spot in the fridge. Place them in original packaging or a plastic bag. Place fruits in a drawer marked for crisper items to prevent humidity from ruining them. Do not cut the fruits and vegetables beforehand as they tend to spoil faster.
The refrigerator door is the place where a lot of temperature fluctuations happen. Place condiments such as pickles, ketchup, mustard, and soy sauce in the refrigerator door shelves. These items do not require extremely cold temperatures to stay fresh, and can easily be kept in good condition in the designated spot.
Handy Tip: When you add newer grocery items to the fridge, move the older items to the front of the fridge and use them up before they spoil.
Use Smart Refrigerator Storage Solutions
How many times have you wished that there were more drawers or partitions in the refrigerator to keep food items properly organized? To help you organize your fridge better and group similar items together, use clear storage bins. These glass bins, available in a range of sizes and shapes, are best for storing foods, and for preventing contamination and spills. If you cannot find clear glass containers, then cheap plastic containers also work quite well to keep things in place. Label these bins so that the food items are easier to find. Other great refrigerator storage solutions and organizers include:
Lazy Susans or Turntables (Keeps items in easy reach)
Fridge Roll Out Caddy (Wheeled bins that roll smoothly on glass shelves to help you reach the hard-to-see items in the back of the fridge)
Produce Bags (To store fruits and vegetables, and prevent decay)
Handy Tip: Keep the most used items in a storage bin right in front. The easy access will definitely be appreciated by the entire family.
Simple Tips to Stay Organized
Clean the Exterior
Once you have cleaned the fridge and placed the items in their allocated places, do not forget to clean the exterior of the fridge. If there are a lot of sticky notes and magnets, then remove them and clean the exterior using vinegar and a microfiber cloth.
Handy Tip: If the refrigerator has a stainless steel surface, then use a commercial stainless steel spray.
Cleaning and organizing the refrigerator once is fine. What you need is a long-term solution that will keep the fridge items organized for an extended period of time. Here are some tips that will help you do just that.
To keep the foods from spoiling, set the refrigerator's temperature to 40°F or lower.
Do not keep too many items in the fridge. The air needs to circulate freely inside the fridge to keep everything fresh, and this is not possible in a cramped space.
Label all foods so that you know when they pass the expiration date. Write down the type of food and the date you placed it in the freezer.
To combat odors, keep activated carbon in a dish or place an open box of baking soda in the back of the fridge.
Wipe up spills as soon as they happen to prevent the shelves and drawers from becoming a sticky mess. Also, wipe jam jars and ketchup bottles before placing them in the refrigerator.
Clean the fridge once a month.
These simple tips for keeping your refrigerator organized may sound like a no-brainer, but believe me, they help quite a lot when you are trying to declutter and organize a fridge. Try these simple steps to keep your refrigerator organized, and you will be thankful for easily locating items in the fridge.