How to Disinfect and Organize Your Refrigerator Fast

6 steps to a clean, organized, and sweet smelling refrigerator

How to Disinfected and Organized Your Refrigerator Fast
Getty Images/Thanasis Zovoilis

Here's why your refrigerator is messy. It is opened and closed numerous times per day. If you have little ones they climb in and mimic you by rearranging items. Then they forget to close it. If you have teenagers, they keep it open just as long constantly looking for food.

This explains why your leftovers get moldy quickly and pushed to the back of the refrigerator. It's easy for items past their expiration dates to get hidden in your refrigerator. But as a working mom, cleaning and organizing your fridge may be the last thing on your to-do list.  

Are you up for a 30-minute challenge tonight to organize your refrigerator?  If so, follow these steps to have a disinfected, organized, sweet smelling fridge.

Gather Your Tools

You will need a bucket lined with a bag to toss out leftovers and quick clean up.  Also, gather clear, stackable plastic containers in multiple sizes with lids and clear, round plastic containers that are at least three inches high, and 8" x 5" plastic baskets or plastic containers (no lids needed).

You'll also need a spray bottle filled with dish detergent and water, a sponge, a towel, paper towels, and dust bin.

Empty Your Refrigerator Shelves From Top to Bottom

You start from the top because the crumbs and dirt will fall down. Remove items from the top shelf, spray the shelf, wash it, dry it, put only the good items back.  Any leftovers can be swiped out of containers and into the bag-lined bucket with the paper towel you used to dry the shelf. Continue this process all the way to the bottom shelf. 

Next, dump out the bins and empty the door shelves and wipe them down, too. Get rid of any science experiments you find in the fruit drawer. Lastly, sweep up any crumbs that landed on the ground.

Organize Your Refrigerator Items

Beverages should be kept on the top shelf of your refrigerator. This includes milk and coffee creamers.

Condiments, salad dressing, and sauces  should be stored on the shelves in the door. If you have more condiments than door space, you have too many. How many different kinds of mustard do you really need? Butter can be stored in the door as well.

Use plastic baskets or containers to store fruit. Keep apples and oranges in a basket together. When you bring grapes home, go ahead and wash them and put them in a plastic bowl. Studies show that both you and your kids will eat more fruit when it's easily accessible.Store all vegetable produce in its own drawer or bin.

Most refrigerators have a drawer specifically for lunch meats and cheeses. If yours does not, use one of the rectangular baskets to house them. When you make a sandwich, you can grab the appropriate basket, and all of your lunch meat and cheese options are in one place. If you buy cheese sticks, use a round, plastic container and store them upright in the container for easy access.

Small containers of yogurt have a way of getting knocked over and making your refrigerator look messy. Store all yogurt in a plastic basket. On the same shelf you put the yogurt, also include cottage cheese, cream cheese, and hummus. 

Designate one shelf for leftovers. Only store leftovers in clear plastic containers with lids. This will make it easier for you to keep track of what you have and to use it before it goes bad.

Check the Dates of Your Condiments

Review all of your condiments, salad dressings and sauces. Throw away any past the expiration date. If you have two opened bottles of the same thing, combine them and throw one of the bottles away to save on space.

Declutter The Outside of Your Refrigerator

If you are one of those people with tons of magnets and papers on your refrigerator, consider eliminating this visual clutter. Remove all of it, file it away and wipe down the outside of your refrigerator.

Keep It Cleaner From Here On Out

Each week before you go grocery shopping, clean out your refrigerator. Get rid of older leftovers. Wipe down the shelves and bins. Put items back in their proper spot. Not only will this help keep your refrigerator organized, it will also be much easier to put your groceries away when you get home.

There, in 30-minutes, your refrigerator has been turned inside out, you can see through the shelves and truly realize what you have to eat.

Updated by Elizabeth McGrory