I can't stand a gross fridge, but no matter how much I clean, it always seems to have a spill or unidentifiable odor within a matter of days. It's why I've recently sought out hacks to keep my fridge clean and organized.
There's just something about being greeted by the scent of rotting food that makes me totally and utterly annoyed whenever I use my kitchen; seriously, nothing makes me want to use it less. And no matter how much I dislike it, for some reason I just can't seem to get a handle on a refrigerator system that doesn't just keep things organized for a day or two, but that actually keeps them organized in the long-term as well. Basically, I'm at a point of adulthood where I don't want to have a massive refrigerator bleach session every three weeks, I simply don't want things to get gross in the first place.
And I suspect there's a lot of 20-somethings out there who are right there with me. It's not that we don't want to be more organized, or haven't tried to be more organized; it's just that we haven't yet found a system that sticks. If you can relate in any way— and also are at your wit's end with your fridge— here are seven organizational hacks that will revolutionize food storage in your life.
1. Use Placemats As Shelf Liners
In an article for House Logic, writer and home renovator Courtney Craig recommended using plastic place mats as shelf liners on your refrigerator shelves (think: it's way easier to scrub a mat in your sink than a shelf in the fridge). She also suggested placing "drippy" foods, like meat, on the lowest shelves.
Nautical Pattern Reversible Decoform Placemats, $18.99, Overstock.com
2. Create Places For Everything
In an article for Real Simple, professional organizer Kate Parker stressed the importance of having designated places for everything. Always keep veggies and meats in their designated drawers, and always keep things like eggs and cheese in the same place every time you shop. Additionally, in an article for The Kitchn, chef Christine Gallary recommended always keeping leftovers front and center in your fridge so that they never get pushed to the back and forgotten.
3. Label, Label, Label
Parker also recommended getting reusable labels so that you label all tupperware containers that go on your shelves. That way you won't forget what you have or have any gross "mystery containers" a few weeks down the line. She also suggested keeping a magnetic organizer on your fridge to hold pens and labels for maximum convenience.
Retangular Chalkboard Labels, $4.99, Oriental Trading
4. Only Use Clear Containers
If label-making doesn't seem realistic for your routine, consider only investing in clear containers for your fridge. Organizing and efficiency expert Grace Brook noted that clear containers are organization 101 when it comes to quickly and easily knowing what you have.
Six Piece Nest Storage, $34.99, Macys.com
5. The Door Is For Condiments Only
Gallery also noted that the refrigerator door is the warmest part of the entire fridge, so you should never keep milk, eggs, or other perishable items there. Instead, always keep them in the center of the fridge, and keep the door reserved for condiments only.
6. Use A Soda Organizer
This is an organizational hack that I recently adopted and am kind of obsessed with. A soda dispenser saves a ton of space in the fridge overall and also gives you extra motivation to keep everything in the surrounding area in its place. Plus, it's just fun to use.
Refrigerator Soda Can Organizer, $5.97, Organization Store
7. Don't Waste Shelf Space For Non-Perishable Items
Craig reminded readers that a lot of people waste valuable shelf space in their fridge on perishable items that are actually better suited for your kitchen cabinets anyway. For example, honey hardens in the fridge and becomes virtually unusable, and ketchup does not need to be refrigerated (otherwise ketchup bottles on tables in restaurants would be super unsafe). Be sure an item actually needs to be refrigerated before using up valuable fridge real-estate.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup, $1.79, Webstaurant.com
A consistently organized fridge doesn't have to be unattainable. Just make sure you have a plan for your space and are proactive about making sure you know exactly what you have, whether it be with transparent containers or labels. Happy organizing!