5 Essential Tips for Keeping Your Refrigerator Clean and Organized

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

Your refrigerator is probably the most-used appliance in your kitchen, so it’s only natural to encounter spills, drips, sticky spots, and food debris. It happens to even the cleanest of cooks; the key is knowing these five essential tips that will keep it clean and organized year-round.

1. Pull the fridge away from the wall to clean the coils.

Every refrigerator has a condenser, the unit that releases heat through those squiggly looking coils located at the back of the fridge or across the bottom front (behind a grille). Over time these coils can accumulate dust, dirt, and grime, which causes the compressor to have to double its energy usage to keep up the work. Not only is this inefficient, but it’s unsustainable; eventually that fridge is going to break down!

2. Yes, you can use your vacuum for cleaning the fridge.

If your vacuum has a small brush attachment, use it to clean the crisper drawers in your fridge. It can be a struggle to get these drawers out; instead, use your vacuum to clean out all dried-up leaves, scraps, and dirt from root vegetables.

3. Try cleaning out the fridge every two weeks to avoid a massive deep-cleaning project.

This sounds like more work than it really is, I promise. Take a page out of Eva Katz’s playbook, and avoid the massive all-day scrubbing project by cleaning and re-organizing your fridge every two weeks. The trick that makes this regular task so easy for Eva is labeling and dating all the items in the fridge. That way it’s easy to know when something needs to be tossed.

4. Wipe down bottles and jars when cleaning the fridge.

You’ve taken the time to empty your fridge, removing the shelves and drawers for a good cleaning, so don’t put sticky jars and bottles back in there. Wipe each one down with a damp cloth before putting them back in the fridge.

5. Arrange items based on the temperature the foods need to be cooked to.

We like to use professional and restaurant kitchens as models since they organize their fridges with food safety in mind. Things that need no cooking to be safe to eat (like prepared foods or leftovers) are placed at the top, then everything else is organized downwards based on the temperature it needs to be cooked to, with the foods needing to be cooked to the highest temperature (like chicken) placed at the bottom.