The Single Best Way to Spend Your Extra Hour This Sunday

published Nov 7, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

I may be in the minority here, but, honestly, if someone told me, “I’m setting a timer for three hours and the only thing you can during this time period is clean,” I’d be thrilled! I’d grab my AirPods, queue up some podcasts or a playlist, and make a plan to get the whole house sparkling. It’s rare (maybe never?) that I have an entirely clean house all at once, and I’d heartily welcome the opportunity to have one. 

It’s not quite the same, but that’s why I’m excited that we have an extra hour today, with Daylight Saving Time ending. I know exactly what I’ll be doing with my extra time. I’m going to use these 60 minutes to clean out my fridge. And I hope you’ll do the same!

Before you toss your phone across the couch in protest as you read this, hear me out! Cleaning out the fridge is one of those tasks that sounds so much worse than it actually is, and I’m going to tell you how to do it relatively painlessly. Clean and organize your fridge now and you’ll be able to prioritize the things that need to be eaten up and see what you need to stock up on. And you’ll make space in there for the upcoming holiday season. Ready?

Here are five smart tips to help you pull off a ridiculously thorough fridge clean-out in an hour or less. If you finish in less than an hour, well, then you can use the rest of your minutes to relax!

Note: If you’re willing to spend 91 minutes on a cleaning session, I’d like to suggest following Kitchn’s Holiday Clean-Along! It’ll get your entire kitchen ready for the upcoming busy season (not just your fridge) and it’s Fun with a capital F!

1. Work from top to bottom.

To avoid having perishable foods out of the fridge for too long, work in small sections. I like to start at the top. Like with most cleaning projects, starting at the top also means that any dirt or crumbs that trickle down to lower levels as you clean will be addressed as you work your way down.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

2. Follow the same steps for each section. 

Start on the top shelf and repeat the same steps for each one. Remove all of the items, wash shelf or drawer with soapy warm water, towel dry, and replace. Next, turn your attention to the items you removed. Toss food that’s expired and wipe down dirty containers with a damp rag. As you clean, make sure all jars and containers are tightly sealed.

3. Use vinegar on the walls.

Wipe down the walls and any parts that can’t be pulled out and cleaned in the sink. My go-to? A white-vinegar-and-water solution. Put it in a spray bottle, spritz away, and use a microfiber cloth to wipe. 

4. Create zones when you put things back.

As you’re putting things back in your fridge, consider creating defined zones so that everyone in your home knows where to find things and where to put them away. This way, leftovers won’t get lost behind the yogurt containers, and you won’t end up with three partially used bottles of mustard. Organize all of your condiments together, and keep leftovers in their own spot. Consider adding labels to further define zones. 

Related: The 30 Most Brilliant Tricks of All Time for Organizing Your Fridge and Freezer

5. Line your produce drawers.

Lining your produce drawers with paper towels will make cleaning them so much easier next time. Rather than having to wipe up drips or vacuum out the bits and pieces, a paper towel will catch most of the mess, and you can simply lift it out and replace it. 

How will you spend your extra hour? Tell us in the comments below!