how I cleaned my refrigerator from the inside out

organized Kitchen

After the holidays, I am usually itching for some good cleaning and organizing projects.  This year, after Christmas, I knew my refrigerator was in a major need of a clean out.  So much had accumulated in my fridge throughout the holiday season, and it had been weeks since I had pulled everything out and wiped my shelves down.  

I don’t keep a super organized refrigerator with matching clear containers and dedicated zones / shelves for specific things.  The way that we need to use the space changes A LOT from week to week, and I just don’t feel like they would help me.  As someone who cooks and meal preps a lot, what helps me keep my refrigerator organized and neat are nice glass containers for leftovers.

Here is how I completely cleaned out the refrigerator:

clean out refrigerator

1. Take everything out.

Take everything out of your refrigerator. Everything. If you have any coolers, place items in your coolers to keep them as cool as possible while you clean your refrigerator.

Clean and wipe down items that you are taking out of the refrigerator as you go. What’s the point of cleaning your fridge if you are going to just put dirty stuff back in it?

clean out refrigerator

2. Toss old and expired food.

As you are taking items out of the refrigerator, check expiration dates. I usually get a lot of surprises with my condiments! Make a list of what needs to be replaced as you are throwing things away.

Although some food might still be okay to eat, think about how much longer your food is going to last, and work items into your upcoming meal plan so that they do not go to waste. Check out my post on how to use up your produce before it goes bad for some ideas!

3. Categorize.

Once you have all of your food out of the refrigerator, organize it all into categories. Keep things together that will live together in the refrigerator. These should be items that are similar, and need to be kept at similar temperatures. Here are some ideas for categories that you can use:

  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • meat and cheese
  • leftovers / meal prep
  • beverages
  • condiments

clean out the refrigerator

4. Clean the refrigerator.

Remove all shelves and drawers from the refrigerator. Hand wash them in warm soapy water with dish soap, and allow to completely dry before placing back in the refrigerator. Clean and disinfect the inside and outside of the refrigerator. For stainless steel refrigerators, use a stainless steel cleaner.

Once the refrigerator and all the shelves and drawers are clean, add a small, open container of baking soda to one of the shelves. The baking soda absorbs smells and keeps your refrigerator smelling fresh!

Line drawers with paper towels. The extra layer makes it much easier for cleaning upkeep. They catch crumbs, little spills, and slimy produce.

5. Put everything back.

Place everything back in the refrigerator, while keeping items in the same category together.