Putting Off Cleaning Your Fridge? Here’s How To Make It Painless

Cleaning Your Fridge

There are certain chores that are easy to put off. You know, those little tasks that stay “out of sight, out of mind?” A big one for me has been cleaning out my fridge. But I’m slowly coming around to the idea that the payoff for doing those annoying chores is much more satisfying than continuing to put them off. So I recently spent a couple of hours cleaning and organizing my fridge, and it looks SO much better!

But I’m also pleased to report that cleaning and organizing your fridge is actually not as awful as it sounds. Especially if you have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve! So today I’ll be sharing all of the things I did while cleaning and organizing my fridge that helped make it a pretty painless process. That way, you can get your fridge looking clean and tidy too! And you’ll be well ahead of schedule on your spring cleaning, so that’s a win-win in my book. :-)

Check out another simple fridge organization hack in my video at the end of the post.

How To Clean And Organize Your Refrigerator

Phase 1 – Cleaning Your Fridge

You’ll need:

Related: Clean And Deodorize Your Refrigerator Naturally

Cleaning Your Fridge

Start by emptying everything in your fridge out onto your countertop, into a box, or anywhere that gets them out of the way. It might seem like a chore to get everything out of your fridge, but it’s going to make the rest of the process so much easier!

Cleaning Your Fridge

The next step is to clean the bins, shelves, and drawers in your fridge. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is by removing them from the fridge itself and soaking them in a bathtub. Just fill your tub with hot water and a splash of Dawn dish soap, and then put the parts in the tub to soak.

Cleaning Your Fridge

While the soapy water is working its magic, you can wipe out the inside of your fridge. Spray the inside liberally with hydrogen peroxide (or the cleaning spray of your choice), then wipe it clean with a microfiber cleaning cloth. (This part is actually very quick and easy once all the shelves are out of the way!)

Next, check on the fridge parts in your bathtub and give them a quick scrub, if necessary. Rinse them off with clean water, and lay them out on a few clean bath towels to dry. (My shelves and drawers air-dried in about 15 minutes, but you may need to dry them off with a towel if you live in a humid area.)

Cleaning Your Fridge

Finally, return the drawers, shelves, and bins to your fridge. Phase 1 is complete! :-)

Phase 2 – Organizing Your Fridge

You’ll need:

Before you rush to put the food back in the fridge where you found it, now is a good time to consider adjusting the height of the various shelves in your fridge. If you’ve had issues with taller items not fitting in your fridge, try moving one of the shelves up a notch or two to make more room. It’s a minor detail, but it can make a big difference!

Cleaning Your Fridge

Using Bins

Once you’ve got everything where you want it, you can start putting food back into your fridge in an organized manner. This is where the bins come in! I bought 4 small bins at my local dollar store for $1 each, so they don’t have to be expensive.

I can’t really help you decide exactly what to put in each bin, since everyone keeps a different stock of food in their fridge. Start by sorting everything out into piles of similar items, then place each pile into its own bin.

Cleaning Your Fridge

Make it easier to identify what’s in each bin by writing it down on a piece of masking tape, and sticking that on the front of the bin. It’s also a good idea to get in the habit of labeling your food too, indicating what it is and when you bought/stored it. The dates will help remind you to use up what’s in your fridge before it goes bad.

Temperature Zones

Another thing worth considering when you’re organizing your food is the temperature “zones” in your fridge. The shelves inside the door of your fridge are usually a bit warmer. They’re a good place to store condiments, butter, pasteurized juices, and other items that don’t present much of a food safety hazard.

Cleaning Your Fridge

The bottom of your fridge is usually the coldest area, so it’s a good idea to store raw meat on the lowest shelf. To be extra safe, place raw meat on a tray or plate to catch any accidental drips. Then you won’t have to worry about the meat contaminating anything that you’ve put in the lower bins.

The central area of your fridge stays nice and cold, so you can store just about everything else in that area.

Cleaning Your Fridge

Produce Drawers

Your produce drawers can be really helpful, depending on your situation. A lot of vegetables keep best when stored with some moisture and humidity, so store them in the “high humidity” drawer (if your fridge is marked that way.) Fruits generally do better with less moisture, so store them in the “low humidity” drawer.

Some people prefer storing their fruits and veggies in the main part of their fridge, and that’s okay! I’ve definitely had plenty of experience with putting produce in those drawers and then forgetting about it entirely, and then discovering a soggy mess later on. So if keeping your fruits and veggies out of the drawers helps you to not forget about them, then that’s the most important thing!

And that’s pretty much all there is to it! After following these steps, your fridge will likely look worlds better than it did before. So give yourself a pat on the back, and reward yourself for all your hard work! :-)

Cleaning Your Fridge
Cleaning Your Fridge

Here’s another simple fridge organization hack:

YouTube video

Read This Next

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • I was able to find sturdy plastic trays (think heavy-duty cafeteria trays) that almost exactly fit the shelves. I use these instead of liners. Some hold a small basket. The trays have the added advantage that they can be pulled out to reach all items easier. I also have one heavy-duty lazy susan on the bottom shelf for tall and/or heavy items, and another small lazy susan on the top shelf for small light weight items. By adjusting the shelf heights I can utilize a lot more of the available space by grouping same height items into the shelves, and same height items into the doors.

  • We have the same fridge. It does not look anywhere near as good as yours, even after I clean it out lol

    Two more things I’ve found useful:
    – line the shelves with Press & Seal wrap. It sticks really nicely to the shelves and you can just peel it up, toss it, and replace it if something spills or leaks. (If you don’t want disposable, use a clear rubber shelf liner and just wash it in your sink as needed.)

    – use a Lazy Susan to corral smaller items and make things in the back easily reachable. Surplus condiment bottles, single-serving beverages, etc.

      • After I clean our refrigerator, I line the shelves with paper towels. Even though they can move around, they absorb whatever food which may have leaked out of a container.. Or produce that I also forgot to use because I put it in the crisper! Then, everytime I add food to the frig, I make sure that I stick another paper towel under it if the other one “slipped away”. I try to put all of my food in containers, but even food items that come in containers, like yougut, may “sweat”. Once or twice a week I check to make sure that nothing has leaked on them.

  • Can you tell me how ants get in the refrigerator? I don’t have ants in any other part of my house; but opened the refrigerator and there were ants on the shelf on the door! And my refrigerator is clean. So is underneath!

  • The cleaning tips are great, and I look forward to the recurring messmakers using them to learn firsthand why I keep harping on them to not do that whole “just for now” hide things away routine. .

    These bins, however, would never work in our home. Their shape inherently leaves a lot of wasted space just begging, “fill me!” meaning the problem will likely come back with a vengeance in a hurry, at least in our house.

  • This is very misleading. I see two loaves of bread, two cartons of eggs, bottle of what appears to be juice on a top shelf, and various bottles of salad dressing, sriracha, yellow mustard, mayo, lots of soda, and miscellaneous in the before photos that are not present in the after. Assuming you will replace some if not all these items if the ones in the before photo had to be tossed, it is not fair to compare the results without the replacements being added. Anyone can clean out the fridge and toss a lot of stuff but if it is basics like bread and eggs, then they should be represented in the after photo.

  • I’d rethink the diet soda, it might appear to be better than regular one but the sweeteners
    are def not good ones. Particularly bad if you have Fibromyalgia, CFS/ME or Arthritis

  • Don’t forget the coils, if they are under your fridge, they will get coated with dust, lint etc, and that needs to be vacuumed, I try to do mine at least twice a year to help the life of your fridge. It’s hard to get down in the floor to do the job but well worth the efforts to prolong the life of your appliance. I turn mine off, use a brush made for cleaning between the coils, and have vacuum hose handy to suck up all the dust and lint. Turning off your fridge keeps the dust from blowing back in your face should the motor cut on while you are cleaning. I’m not sure where you can get these brushes for this job, mine came from Sears many years ago.

  • Great post! I like to use empty clear plastic containers that cleaned lettuce comes in to coral like items. In addition to their large size, they are clear, making identification of contents easy….
    I also use these containers with their covers for shoes in my closet.

  • One trick to never forgetting where your veggies are is to put green (peppers, celery, green onions, mint, romaine) in left drawer and all other colours (mushrooms, carrots, coleslaw, cut white onions, tomatoes) in right drawer.

    • I agree with Louise James plus tomatoes are a fruit-even if you put them in the refrigerator, they should not be stored with veggies-they belong in the fruit drawer. Otherwise, I think your idea is a good reminder of what’s where!

  • I buy plastic placemats at Dollar Store to line shelves. So easy for clean up. Just yank them out and wash in sink. I Always put Zip Lock BAg In Bottom Of Drawers In Case Of Leaks. Pull Out, Throw Away.

  • Mind reader! I just did a big grocery shopping trip yesterday and struggled to get everything in the fridge, thinking it needed a good cleaning. Thanks for the tips!

  • Hi Jillee,
    Thanks for all your thoughtful posts.
    I place clear vinyl table cover cut into size on all my fridge shelves,drawers and bins.makes cleaning much easier.

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