Make Your Own Inexpensive and Easy-to-Clean Fridge Liners

fridge liners

This weekend we spent some time helping my daughter Britta move. And even though she only moved about 10 miles north of her previous apartment, it’s still never fun or easy to move your whole life from one place to another. And after you’ve done all the hard work of moving all of your stuff, there’s still the dreaded move-out cleaning left to do! Among all the horrible cleaning tasks involved in the process of moving out, one job in particular stands out to me as being especially unenjoyable – cleaning out the fridge.

It takes forever, involves a lot of awkward reaching and stretching, and is usually pretty gross, too. Some very clever person realized these things, and invented a way to prevent the sticky fridge messes that take forever to clean – fridge liners! Fridge liners can be placed on shelves and in bins, and are meant to serve as a barrier between foods and the fridge itself. So when spills and messes occur, you only need to remove and wash the liner, rather than struggling to wipe out the fridge. But you can pay anywhere from $10 to $25 for a set of fridge liners, which feels like a pretty steep for a few pieces of plastic!

I recently came across an idea for a DIY version of fridge liners that can be made for a couple of dollars. I gave it a try, and now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t know about this sooner! If Britta had had a set of these in her fridge, it definitely wouldn’t have taken as long as it did to clean out this weekend! Oh well, live and learn. :-)

Here’s how you can make a set for your own fridge.

DIY Fridge Liners

DIY Fridge Liners

You’ll need:

  • A set of placemats (dollar store mats work great!)
  • A marker
  • Scissors

DIY Fridge Liners

To make liners for your fridge’s drawers, remove the drawer and set it on top of one of your placemats. Use a marker to trace the outline of the bottom of the drawer.

DIY Fridge Liners

Cut out the shape using your scissors, and place the liner in the bottom of the drawer.

It’s a little tricker to do shelves, since they usually can’t be removed from the fridge, but it’s definitely doable.

DIY Fridge Liners

Just place a piece of paper onto the shelf, and use your marker to mark the shape of the shelf.

DIY Fridge Liners

Use the paper as a template on your placemat, cut out the correct shape, and place it onto the shelf.

The liners we made stayed put pretty well, but if you’re worried about them shifting around, I’d recommend sticking them down with a couple of removable Glue Dots.

DIY Fridge Liners

Not only is the project affordable and practical, but its totally customizable, and looks really nice, too. We also thought it would be fun to color code your fridge using your fridge liners. For example, the cheese goes where the yellow liner is, the veggies go where the green liner is, etc.

DIY Fridge Liners

Note: We loved the look of the colored liners in the drawers and on the fridge door shelves, but the dark-colored liners on the interior shelves blocked quite a bit of light. If you’re worried about that, another option would be to use clear placemats for the liners of the interior shelves.

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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

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  • One issue that we would have with liners such as those is that the sole light source in our Samsung is an array of led’s at the very top of the refrigerator compartment, so liners such as those shown would block light from getting to the lower shelves, and actually, as you’d still have to remove whatever is on the shelf to remove and clean a liner, it’s just as easy to remove and wash the shelf itself. Also, many shelves, such as ours, are designed with a spill containment edge, and placing a liner on them would only serve to allow spills to flow over the edge and onto whatever is below.

  • I only line my vegetable drawers. I use the grip liner that you find in dollar stores. It is easy to cut to size and when your bins get full of onion skins, lettuce leaves or whatever, I just pull them out and rinse them in the sink and let dry before placing them in a freshly wiped bin. Easy peasy and they don’t get any nasty gunk build up. Not a fan of lining all the shelves in a fridge when we pay big bucks for glass shelves in order to just wipe them down and, sorry, but I think it makes the fridge look cluttered.

  • I am sorry but refrigerator liners are not a good idea. They harbor bacteria underneath which contaminates food. That is why you will never find them in any restaurants or institutional kitchens. It is one of the many rules in kitchen.

  • Hi! Thanks for the great ideas. I’d like to try out one of mine. Why not use aluminium foil? It is cheap
    , disposable and easily adaptable to all size of shelf. Your thoughts ? Thanks again.

  • Looks so nice! Great idea to put your jars upside down to easily see what is inside! Thanks!
    By the way – you fried rice recipe is the only one we use and it’s a huge hit!

  • Are the placemats you used the thick plastic ones? At first they looked like the quilted cloth kind; and I was like; well that makes no sense to me; but then I wondered lol!!!! Thank you in advance for answering what I am sure is a stupid question!!

  • LOVE the look in the drawers and door shelves! But if you want see-thru liners, you can use plastic wrap or press & seal wrap. Easy to put in, easy to clean. I buy the BIG roll at Costco. Maybe not as earth friendly, but another option.

  • Most fridges the door shelves ARE removable (like the ones in the picture above)…you press in on the sides and they pop out. Take what’s in the shelf or first so you don’t have any spills. If you have issues with your liners sliding around..or jars, and things like that, buy the rubbery textured cabinet liner(Dollar Tree carries it, also Wal-Mart) cut it to fit underneath and no more slippage! I love this site-so much wonderful information and a beautiful layout!

  • Before I put my placemats on the glass shelves, I line them with cling wrap first. If you have kids who spill stuff & then don’t tell you about it, when you go to change the placemats, they are stuck to the glass & you have a huge mess. Lining the shelves with cling wrap first has saved me hours of cleaning.

  • For my fridge bins I use the non-skid shelf liners made for cabinets. Can be cut to fit practically any size or shape. Easy to wash, replace or toss. Economical as well from the dollar store.

  • If you have shelves that do are not removable, you can always insert aluminum foil and crease the edges. This will give you an exact dimension to cut your liners.

  • I bought a set of liners online and they didn’t last a month!!!! They weren’t even plastic! I LOVE this idea!!! I’ll be hitting the Dollar Tree right away!!!

  • I always put a layer of paper towel in my fruit and veggie drawers. Warm soapy water cleans up the other shelves nicely. The part I don’t like to clean is the back and sides and bottom when something has spilled. I was so glad when they started covering those tubes for the water dispenser. That was a mess to clean! Thanks for all your great ideas.

  • great idea AFTER I clean out my own messy fridge shelves … and I wondered about the upside down jars as well … good to have liners when turning something upside down, I’m sure. love this site.

  • Beautiful! I too, won’t to know why the jars are turned upside down? Would’t this be extra work when (like my husband and son who is always spilling liquids), now having to remove the beautiful liners, clean them and clean under them. I love this beautiful idea, but my guys are pigs. :-((

    • The jars are upside down to prevent mold! As for cleaning under the liners, you really don’t have to! Maybe after a BIG spill or during an occasional deep clean, but otherwise, the messes stay on the liners. :-) They’re much easier to clean – and can even be put in the dishwasher!

  • I’m all for easier clean up. I hate cleaning the fridge. I’ve been contemplating doing this for awhile now. Awhile back when researching a problem I was having with my fridge I read that you should NOT be using placemats and other such liners. Your glass shelves stay cold and help keep the fridge from working as hard, it helps cool room temp items faster, and a few other things that I forgot. It also pointed out that your crisper drawers usually have slight ridges/moisture channels in them (mine does, but I’ve seen some that do not, but have channels running down the side) that are specifically designed that way to help with moisture. I’m not sure how accurate that info. is, but it kind of does seem logical. Might not make the difference on a new fridge, but if you got an old gal that is struggling or live in an ultra humid area and your fridge works O.T. all the time it might be something to consider.

  • I’m just wondering way are the jars upside down? I know to do this with natural peanut butter but never heard of storing other stuff that way.

  • The REAL dollar store, Dollar tree has clear cutting mats that are almost transparent … for … $1! I have used these for placemats for the grandgirlies and as template material for quilting.

  • I used contact shelf liner for the shelves in our fridge. Was wondering about the door shelves and drawers – this sounds like a great idea. Will have to give it a try.

  • Such a great idea. I have thought about this for awhile, but worried about the light just like you mentioned. I will be on the lookout for some clear mats now. Thanks! Hope your daughter is settling in.

  • Press and seal plastic wrap.. and it comes in seasonals (for a fun look) that get marked down.. pull off the amount needed for a shelf, stick down and discard when you decide to clean up the fridge… Easy and it doesn’t move around on the shelf..

    • What a great idea to use press ‘n seal wrap. I’ve been using plastic placemats for years, I was fortunate to find clear ones and they work great but the throw away plastic wrap is even better.

  • YES INDEED………..the shelves in the doors DO COME OUT :-) EASY TOO! Just PUSH THEM UP and OUT!

    AND you can CHANGE them to different levels to accommodate bottles of different heights!!

  • Those shelves do come out just give a thump under them and they will be released I do it all the time to wash them, they just slide up and out but I line them with paper towel too ,,,

  • I’ve used the plastic runners for floors to line the bottom of my bathroom and kitchen cabinets for years. Spills wipe up easily on them. I wonder if the cheaper, thinner runners would work in the refrigerator. You get a lot of plastic for the money. You can buy them at Home Depot or Lowe’s. You can also get clear plastic by the yard at fabric stores. This might work, too. Great idea Jillee! Thanks! Hate cleaning out the fridge.

  • For years I’ve used a roll of plastic cabinet shelf liners (No sticky backs. It is just like one long place mat). I don’t have one piece butting against another were a spill can get in. Originally, my shelf liner came from IKEA.

    Shelf leaning day is always just before shopping day as the amount of foot is low and I must run my inventory anyway.

  • Great idea,that I hav dine for about 20 yrs. But one warning: through cheaper ($ store) mats can stick and leave some of the backing on your glass shelves. I learned that the hard way!!! I now used either a cloth (sprayed with scotchguard/waterproof) or bamboo mat. You have the same protection of keeping refrig clean, mats are easy to clean up and take out.
    Thanks for sharing another terrific idea! Love your blog.

  • I have used the placemat idea for a couple of years, but like someone mentioned did not think of putting one in the drawers. Will have to try this. On the door I use some of the Rubbermaid waffle-looking liner purchased at a dollar store. It is easily removed washed off dried and put back. Enjoy checking out your ideas and wondering “why didn’t I think of that” Thanks for all that you do for us.

  • My wire shelves in the fridge seemed to get dirtier than the glass shelves I have now. Stuff would drip and get the bottom of the wire shelves dirty. You can put liners or placemats over the wire shelves! I have paper towels in the sections on the doors now and will look for some clear mats I can cut to fit.

  • Sounds like a great idea, but when I looked in my own frig, I realized I look through the glass shelves to see what is on the shelves below. If all the shelves have liners you can’t see through, it is quite difficult to see what is below, or in back of each shelf. Probably good for the drawers and doors, though. I, personally feel it is just as easy to wipe off the plastic doors and drawers without going through all the trouble of making “liners”. Sorry. Not your best tip. I love your blog, though, and read it regularly. You are welcome to delete my comments if you feel they are detrimental to your job.

  • What a good idea! Def need to do thos in ours. Milk bottle always seems to cause most grime and scratches. Dollar store has place flexible cutting mats also -usually 2 per pack those would work for lack of light maybe.

  • I started using Press N Seal plastic wrap on my shelves but never thought to do the door shelves or bins! Duh! I was wondering why all your jars are upside down? Thank you so much for your advice, I have gotten so many great ideas from you! :)

  • What a terrific idea. I usually use paper towels to line my refrigerator, but this is a wonderful, easy-to-clean idea! Thank you for such a great way to keep the refrigerator clean and looking beautiful!

  • Many of the inexpensive plastic placemats that you can buy are made with PVC. These should NOT come in direct contact with food! Especially if you have children! Please only use liners that are PVC-free.

  • Great idea! Cleaning the frig is the worst! I use the same method on the tops of my kitchen cabinets. I cover them with wax paper so I can just take it off when it’s dirty. No cleaning the grease and dust that gets built up on the tops.

  • I don’t see the real advantage to this idea. If I’m going to have to remove everything from a shelf to wipe down a plastic placemat, why not just wipe off the shelf? My shelves on the doors are repositionable so in the event I feel I must remove them to wash them, it’s not that big of a deal. I rarely need to do that because a dish cloth works just fine while the shelf remains on the door. Yes, I realize not everyone’s shelves might be that easy. And for those people who like this idea and think it would be a simpler alternative, I hope you’re right and that it works for you.

  • I think this is fantastic. Just last week I used these mats to do the exact same project. I didn’t have plastic wrap but I had place mats purchased from a big box store for another reason, by the way the same Place Mats are less expensive at The Dollar Tree.

    The mats I had were opaque/dark so on the first self, I used a mat on one side and a beautiful basket on the other side The next shelf I flip flopped the idea and it works beautifully for visibility and it’s pretty. I did line the baskets with parchment paper for easy clean up. It also helped categorize my sections that made sense for my family.

    In my bin area I used cloth placemats to absorb moisture. These were easy to place, stayed in place and will be easy to throw in the wash before heading out on my weekly farmers market run.

    I totally missed the boat on the side selves and GREAT idea on the upside down jars!

    Thanks for sharing

    • To keep the contents fresh longer! The bacteria/molds don’t care which way up they are. Mold normally grows on the top because these things are aerobic (they need oxygen to grow) and that’s where the product meets the air. Some things are packed at low pressure so there isn’t much air in the top of the jar (hence that popping button thing on top) or are pasteurized with the lid partly open then sealed so the air inside contracts as it cools. This is usually in an area that’s more free of bugs than your kitchen is.
      When the bugs inside are exposed to air again, they can start to grow. The low temperature in the fridge slows them down a bit.
      When you put the jar back in your fridge, the seal is probably not perfect so some more air can get in. If you turn the jar upside down, the product helps maintain a seal so it’s less likely that air will get in.

  • How about using some of those flexible plastic cutting boards at Walmart? They’re a lightweight plastic and available in pastel and translucent colors. If you secured the edges with glue dots I believe that would work too. I believe they wouldn’t cut down on the light very much either.

  • I love this idea, but I do have a problem: even though I have a side by side fridge, my shelves are much bigger than place mats! Any suggestions what to use instead?

  • Brilliant idea. I am a private care provider for seniors that have Alzheimers/Dementia and this one simple design would make my job much easier in hoping them maintain their home. Thank you for sharing!

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