If you are like almost everybody else, your refrigerator may seem to have become a veritable hodgepodge of lost and misplaced items. It seems almost nobody can find anything.

Nearly everything often winds up behind something else and inevitably disappears. Unfortunately, when you take the time to check all the way to the back of the shelves, you may find a few items that may have been there much longer than you might have liked.

We can help by offering you this step-by-step guide that will keep your fridge organized properly. It should also help you to keep much better track of many items that might otherwise go bad.

Clean the Fridge

Before organizing, make sure your refrigerator is clean and disinfected. Your fridge will not only look better but it will be a lot easier for you to find things.

Empty the refrigerator so you can wipe down all the shelves and scrape off any hardened spills. If you need to keep some food inside to keep it from spoiling, work in sections. Another option to consider is to set up a cooler where you can add some ice to keep perishable food while you clean.

Wipe down the shelves and surfaces with a disinfecting wipe or saturate some disposable paper towels with Lysol or another disinfecting spray. If necessary, take each shelf out completely to get the tracks and rollers clean. Don’t forget to clean the bottom of the shelves as well and all the door compartments.

Take out the drawers and soak each one in hot, soapy water for a few minutes. Wipe each one down with a dampened clean cloth before putting it back in place in the refrigerator.

Add a half box of baking soda or a commercial deodorizer if you prefer and set it at the back on one of the shelves. These will keep unpleasant smells from remaining inside if something spills.

Organizing Your Refrigerator

Once your fridge is clean and sanitized, it’s time to organize the different types of food. The main thing to remember is that each different type of food will keep better when it’s stored in the correct section of your refrigerator.

The Upper Shelves

The upper shelves are the highest point in your fridge. Since heat rises, these shelves will usually be a little bit warmer than everywhere else. So, that’s where you should place ready-to-eat foods such as cheeses, deli meats, yogurt, and of course any leftovers.

Create an “About to expire” box and place anything inside it that needs to be eaten in the next few days. Check the expiration dates often, and make sure you put anything close to becoming expired inside the box. If you aren’t sure about an item, make the best guess you can. Always err on the side of caution or you may regret it later.

Lazy Susans

Pick up a couple of Lazy Susan trays from your favorite discount store and place them on the refrigerator’s lower shelves. Fill the trays with any items that would otherwise get lost like snacks, condiments, or any jars already opened. Then, when you’re looking for something, you can spin the tray around to easily see where everything is located.

Hanging Baskets

While you’re at the discount store, pick up some small hanging baskets and some suction cups. Place the suction cups on the inside walls of your refrigerator and hang the baskets on each one. These can be quite handy for cheese rollups, string cheese, pre-made luncheon meats, or any other small items that might normally become lost in the fridge.

Since your lower shelves are below the ready-to-eat foods, it is a good place to keep your raw ingredients. Anything already packaged like raw meats or items you are planning to use for a recipe should go as low as possible.

If you have any ready-to-eat ingredients that you can’t fit on the upper shelves, you can place them on the lower shelves in the fridge but be careful not to put them below the meats.

Group Similar Items Together

Something else that will help you organize your refrigerator are see-through baskets that you can also find at your favorite discount store. These baskets will help you keep similar items grouped together. Because they are clear, you will be able to easily see and grab sandwich fixings, leftovers, sauces, and anything else when you’re in a rush to prepare a meal.

Crisper Drawers

Pay attention to the drawers at the bottom of your refrigerator and the sliders on top that control the temperature and humidity inside each one. These are vents are designed to keep certain foods fresh longer in your refrigerator.

Check the directions that came with your fridge to see what is exactly supposed to go where and your fruits and veggies will last longer. The reason is that fruits and veggies like apples and pears emit ethylene gas. This can cause food to ripen faster unless the air vent is fully open. If a drawer is labeled “high humidity”, put leafy greens like spinach and arugula in it where moisture will keep them fresh longer.

Line Crisper Drawers with Paper Towels

If you’ve had trouble with pieces of vegetables breaking off and decaying at the bottom of your crisper drawers, try lining the bottom of each one with one or two paper towels. This way the little pieces of broccoli or celery stalks can be easily removed every couple of weeks and you won’t find a mess there later on.

The Door Shelves

Your refrigerator door is the warmest part of your fridge. It’s fine to keep butter and condiments there, but not eggs, milk, or more perishable items. Otherwise, they may not stay as fresh as you might like.

We hope that by following these organizing basics with your refrigerator, you will not only be able to find things a lot faster but there will be a lot less chance of items going bad.

Please let us know if these ideas have been helpful to you. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about any other home cleaning subjects you’d like us to cover, be sure to write us. And, if you live in the Chicago metro area and are interested in learning more about our home cleaning services and how we can help you maintain a safe and healthy living environment, give us a call. Our number is 708-599-7000. Or, you can contact us online for a free house or office cleaning consultation.