Clean and organize your refrigerator

An organized and clean refrigerator means less searching for food,so meal prep and writing a grocery list and is faster and less food (and money!) is wasted.  And, your risk of foodborne illness is lower because foods will stay colder, raw meats will not drip on to other foods, and there is less risk of spoilage.

Steps for Cleaning a Refrigeratorrefrigerator
  1. Turn off the refrigerator and unplug.  
  2. Remove everything. Discard old or spoiled food.  
  3. Perishable food should be placed in a cooler to keep it cold.
  4. Remove shelves and drawers; wash with hot soapy water, rinse with clean water, and dry.
  5. Wipe inside interior and bottom of refrigerator.
  6. Replace shelves and drawers.
  7. As you return the food to the refrigerator, wipe off the jars and containers.
  8. Wipe exterior of refrigerator, remove dust and lint from front grill. Clean condenser coils to remove dirt and lint.

Follow the same steps for the freezer. Consider making a list of what is in the freezer to use in menu planning


Maintenance Steps
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator with hot, soapy water when they happen to prevent bacteria (germs) from growing.
  • Clean the refrigerator regularly to reduce food odors.
  • Remove spoiled foods immediately so decay cannot pass to other foods.
  • Check the temperature of the refrigerator or freezer. Refrigerator/freezer thermometers can be purchased at hardware and big box stores.



Store food at cool temperatures--from 34 - 40 degrees Fahrenheit is best.
Foods stored at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit spoil rapidly.



Organizing Your Shelves
  • Milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese - store together on a shelf in the refrigerator. Keeping these in the door is not the best place because they are exposed to the warm air when the door is opened and this will cause them to spoil faster.
  • Eggs - store in their carton on a shelf, not in the door.
  • Meats - if the refrigerator has a special drawer for meats, use it! This keeps raw meat, seafood, and poultry away from other ready-to-eat and perishable foods and prevents cross-contamination. If there is not a special drawer, keep these foods in a pan on a lower shelf to prevent juices from dripping on other food.
  • Sauces and condiments - can be kept together in the door of the refrigerator. If they are in the door, they are easy to see which reduces the chances that the same thing will be purchased many times over.    
  • Leftovers - have a designated shelf for leftovers and make a plan to use them. Freeze them if you aren’t going to use in four days.
    • Remove leftovers from plates, serving dishes, pots, or pans and place in clear plastic containers before storing in the refrigerator. Use foil, plastic wrap, plastic bags or airtight containers for packaging foods for refrigerator storage. Moisture- and vapor-proof materials are best.
    • Rotate the oldest leftovers to the front. This will save on space and reduce the chances that leftovers will be pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten.
  • Bottled or canned beverages - store in a pantry or cupboard and cool down with ice when needed. This will free up space for foods that must stay cold. Refrigerated juices and opened bottles of juice should be refrigerated.  If space is an issue, these can be transferred into smaller, clear containers.
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