How To Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator!

Yesterday was “attack something that needs attention in my home Wednesday”!

Not really. I can’t possibly limit myself to a certain day of the week for house attacks. I must have the flexibility to attack when inspiration strikes…or it most likely won’t get done. That’s just how I work. And I certainly couldn’t keep this up EVERY week! I’d perish for certain! :-)

However…even though today’s project was definitely ambitious…it turned out to be much easier and took less time than I even anticipated! The “cleaning” part took about 1 1/2 hours…start to finish. The “organizing” part took me awhile because my OCD self kept arranging and rearranging the whole set up. But I was super happy with the end result…so that’s ok. :-)

Phase One: The Cleaning!

 

This was the first time I’ve ever tried this “method” of cleaning my refrigerator and it was by FAR the easiest and fastest way I’ve ever done it! I got a few inspiring ideas from Leslie at Goodbye House, Hello Home for both the cleaning and organizing part of this post.

I guess we need to start with some “before” pictures.

         
It’s kind of funny…when I first took these pictures I thought…hmmmm…it’s really not that bad. Maybe I should wait awhile to do this project. HA! Then I completely emptied the thing and thought…Yuck!  It’s amazing what some strategically placed food and beverages can hide. :-) But take them all away and the ugly truth is GLARINGLY white! I had forgotten how WHITE my white refrigerator was!

       
So like I said, the cleaning part of this went fairly quickly. I emptied the entire contents of the refrigerator onto the kitchen table and counter in about 5 to 10 minutes. Cinchy. (I originally was going to “attack” the freezer at the same time…but when I got going realized the folly of my plan and saved that for another “house attack” day).

Next I took out every moveable part (ie. shelves and drawers, etc) and dumped them in the hall bathroom bathtub. (That bathtub is sure getting a workout lately.) I filled the tub with HOT water and some Dawn dishwashing liquid, dumped a cup of ammonia in there for good measure, and left it all there to soak.

Back at the “scene of the crime” I grabbed my “kitchen buddy”…my bottle of 1/2 ammonia, 1/2 water that I keep under the sink at all times, and started spraying. Now I know there are going to be ughs and boo’s to the use of ammonia…but it’s my choice of cleaning agent. I don’t tell you what to clean with do I? Oh wait….I guess maybe I do. hmmm. But anyway, it works GREAT!   But I’m sure vinegar would work great as well!   It’s a free country…YOU choose! :-)

I sprayed EVERYTHING liberally, let sit for just a few minutes, then wiped the whole inside of the fridge out with a wet cloth. It literally took just a few minutes. If you have ever tried cleaning your refrigerator by wiping down all the shelves and drawers while they were still IN it…trust me on this….that is WAY harder!

After this quick spray and wipe I went and checked on the stuff soaking in the tub and after just that short period of time, everything washed up wonderfully with just a washcloth. I didn’t have to expend one drop of elbow grease. :-)

As I took each piece out of the tub, I poured a large container of clean, hot water over it, just to get any suds off, then I took all the pieces and laid them out on several large bath towels that I had put down in the living room. Since it was a nice day I opened the windows and the front door and turned on the ceiling fan and within 15 minutes…everything was completely dry. Of course, living in a semi-arid state helped a lot too. :-)   If you are in a humid area…give it a bit longer. No matter how long it takes…it sure beats drying everything by hand!

         
And THAT my friends, was all there was to Phase 1 of “cleaning and organizing” the refrigerator.   I still had to put the shelves, etc back in, but technically I considered that part of Phase 2 since I had decided to do some rearranging of the way they went back in anyway.

Phase 2: The Organizing!

 

The main changes I made when returning the shelves and drawers to the fridge were lowering one of the top shelves to accommodate tall bottles. The way it was before, anything “tall” had to go inside the door or be laid flat on a shelf. I like this set up MUCH better.  The rest of the stuff went back in pretty much the same as before.

Looks pretty nice huh?

Now to the “serious” part of the organizing. I have been eyeing these bins at Walmart for a long time now. I knew I could use them for SOMETHING, but couldn’t put my finger on it until I saw this post from from Leslie at Goodbye House, Hello Home.   That was it!    The missing piece of the refrigerator organizing puzzle that seems to have plagued me my entire life. BINS! BINS, BINS, BINS, BINS, BINS! I bought 3 large ones and 3 smaller ones for less than $15.00.

I wouldn’t presume to tell you WHAT to put in WHICH bin in YOUR refrigerator…but here are a few “guidelines” that I followed. Since we eat a good deal of cheese in this family (call it compensation for a lack of gluten in our diet)…I ended up devoting two of the bins to just that. One thing that has always puzzled me about cheese is how to store the blocks that get opened. I hate using so many ziploc bags, but didn’t really know what the alternative was. Well, according to the good people at Food52.com the “proper” way to store blocks of cheese is wrapped up in some sort of paper…like parchment. Since I was out of parchment paper (which was kind of odd) I improvised with brown paper lunch sacks, which I have a huge inventory of. A quick wrap (no securing with tape, etc needed) and a stroke of the Sharpie, and the cheese dilemma was solved.

            
I also switched things up a bit with the drawers, because keeping the vegetables in the lower drawers wasn’t really working for me. Most of the time I would end up forgetting about it until it was too late to salvage and ended up tossing it. Now I have yogurt, sour cream and leftovers in the drawers, and the veggies up higher in an easily accessible and recognizable position. Maybe we will eat more veggies now. It could happen!

     
Eggs got moved up a few levels, as did the breakfast and lunch meat. (Dinner meats usually come from the freezer.)  Oh, and I almost forgot…I also had to create a designated spot for my new favorite way of storing one of my favorite things….cilantro!   So I created a spot of honor for my lovelies that was just the right height. If you LOVE cilantro as much as I do…you will TOTALLY get this….if not…well, I can’t help you. ;-)


And THAT is “How To Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator” according to Jillee. :-)   Whew…I thought I was tired after DOING it!   Writing about it was EXHAUSTING!  I realize it was rather lengthy…but if you stuck with me to this point…I commend you. Just let me know if you need any help with your refrigerator…I’ll be right over! :-)




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Comments

  1. sharon says

    Hey Jill juzt a. FYI…the door of the fridge is the least safe place to keep milk. It is the warmest part of tbd fridge. One of my many neurosis.

    • Paul says

      Haha – In our house we are lucky to get the milk back in the fridge at all. We keep our milk in the door shelf built to fit a gallon jug. The milk always tastes icy cold. I think your concerns are valid if you have an old unit, but as long as that area of the fridge is at most 37 degrees, you are good.

    • says

      People kept milk on a cold slab in their larders for decades before fridges. I don’t think the short length of time a pint of milk sits in the door would be long enough to develop harmful bacteria. Do you know anyone who has been made ill through milk-in-the-fridge-door syndrome?I feel this is rather over the top .

      • Kat says

        Thank-you for being someone with common sense! ;) I totally agree with you! My family ALWAYS kept the milk in door when I was growing up…There are 5 of us and we are all totally fine! :) Not only that but most fridges have a space specifically designed for a gallon of milk in the door….So really, how wrong can it be? LOL.

  2. Kim in Michigan says

    Looking so good Jillee! (and yes, the milk needs to be stored in the fridge and not on the door.)

  3. Sandi K. says

    Oh, would you please come right over and do this for me?! Your fridge looks great! Have never thought of taking everything out and washing it all at once. Thanks for the post! You are always such a great inspiration to get those things done that I never think about doing.

  4. Sade says

    Oh my word! I have been putting off cleaning my fridge (’til now). I didn’t think I needed a tutorial on how to clean a refrigerator, but apparently I did. I would never have thought to put all in the tub w/ammonia. And it would never have occured to me NOT to dry the shelves/bins, etc. Thank-you in advance for making this job so much easier! Am almost looking forward to this very needed task.

  5. says

    Your fridge looks great and I love the cilantro – it looks like a floral bouquet in your fridge. Such a nice touch :)

  6. says

    Oh crap, now you’ve inspired me to do that same thing! I really, really don’t want to…thanks a lot ;) Looks awesome!

  7. says

    I am psychotic about keeping my refrigerator clean and organized… but my big problem is getting OTHER people (ahemmm… glaring at husband as I type this) to put things BACK in the appropriate spot. One time I even labeled each shelf for appropriate contents — only to have the labels ignored. But I absolutely love love love the basket idea. Perhaps this will work!

  8. the red curl says

    jillee: awhile back you showed us how to make enzyme cleaner, and i love the ever livin’ out of mine! it has replaced SO many of my old cleaners (though, like you, some things still require the ammonia spray!) and does so many jobs! what a multitasker!
    i never see/hear you use yours though. does it not work/lose potency? is there a film later? after all the time i spend waiting on batches of the stuff, i use it as much as possible, but if there is some reason i should go back to my arsenal of cleaners instead of the one, i hope you let us know! :-)

    ps? my hub is sick of hearing “well according to jillee…”, “jillee says…”, and this classic: me-“i found it on…” hub-“jillee?” me-“yes!” hub-“of course you did!” doris downer can go suck eggs. you’re stayin’.
    love ya dahlin’! you keep my house clean, homemade, and tasty! thanks!

    • says

      The old people are proud of you too and also proud of STYLE for rgcneniziog you and Sarvay and Tony & Parker from RVA and most of the rest on this year’s list. Mucho kudos!Now could you please take out the trash?Don

  9. Krysten says

    ya. maybe if i am ambitious …. i will take pictures before and after of my fridge :) it is a lot worse than yours, thus making the transformation that much more exciting! it is definitely in need of a good cleaning for sure! i really am in a rut feeling like i never get anything accomplished, maybe if i start taking pictures i will have proof of what i accomplish haha! thank you for the inspiration :)

  10. Megan says

    Your fridge looks fantastic! I love all of your tips!
    On a completely different topic, I eat Greek gods yogurt too. Have you tried the vanilla honey flavor? It’s
    Ah-mazing!! ;)

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