29+ Tips and Tricks for a Perfectly Organized Refrigerator


| LAST UPDATE 06/25/2023

By Arianna Morgan

Organizing your fridge might not be the most exciting task, but it can be easier than you think! Here are some tried and tested tips and tricks for building and maintaining a perfectly organized refrigerator.

Empty Out the Fridge

In order to get started, you first need to know what you have and what you don't have in your fridge! So, start by opening up that thing and take a good look at what you already have before you get to organizing.

Clean Out Fridge HacksClean Out Fridge Hacks
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You'll quickly realize more than a few expired products are hanging out in there, so start by tossing those out. Professional organizer Cait Siranni says, "Toss expired food. Especially those old condiments and forgotten frozen meals: that make room for items you're currently eating."

Scrub It Down

Every so often, it's important to give your refrigerator a big ole' deep clean. Once everything is removed and half of the items are thrown out, you'll get a good visual of just how dirty it's become over time. So, get out your kitchen gloves and cleaning products and get to cleaning!

Professional Organizers Fridge HacksProfessional Organizers Fridge Hacks
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Start by sprinkling a handful of baking soda on the shelves and keep it closed for 30 minutes. Clean the glass shelves with a vinegar and water mix, and end off by giving it a good wash down in warm and soapy water in the sink. Pro-tip, make sure to clean the coils in the back of the fridge as dust builds up back there over time!

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Break Out the Measuring Tape

It's time to get technical and get out your measuring tape for this one. Professionals recommend the best way to make use of your refrigerator and freezer space is to get the proper measurements to know just exactly how much room you're working with!

Professional Organizers Fridge HacksProfessional Organizers Fridge Hacks
YouTube via Tech9 India

Measure the appliance's width, height, and depth in order to get an accurate reading of how much space is available to store taller or wider items. For those that are looking to get a bit more exact numbers, remove the shelves and drawers, and voila!

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Throw Out Extra Packaging

To get a perfectly organized fridge, it's important to cut down on a lot of the unnecessaries. In order to create more space, Siranni suggests "removing packaging from individually packed foods like yogurt, string cheese, and drinks." That's a good start!

Professional Organizers Fridge HacksProfessional Organizers Fridge Hacks
Instagram via @stephaniepence

"They'll take up less space, and it will help you visually track inventory." Taking out 12 La Croix cans from their packaging and stacking them on top of each other in the fridge will immediately clear up space for your other items, like Babybels cheeses or Yoplait yogurts.

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The Two-Third's Full Rule

It's best to follow the trusted two-thirds full rule to avoid constant clutter in your refrigerator. What is that exactly? Well, it's to only keep your refrigerator two-thirds full at all times. We sometimes have the tendency to overfill our fridge and freezer with items we don't really need, and eventually, it just leads to waste.

fruits vegetables Fridge Hackfruits vegetables Fridge Hack
Instagram via @the_first_bowl

Overfilling a refrigerator can lead to obstructed air flows, decreased energy efficiency, and blocked air vents, which, combined, can harm the appliance over time. However, if you find your fridge is empty at times, try filling it up with a few water bottles to maintain a cool temperature.

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Organizing the Top Shelf

Let's look at the fridge like a math problem. Each part of the refrigerator has a special equation to follow in order to get the best outcome. So, placing your groceries randomly in the fridge wherever they seem to fit is just not the way to go!

organizing vegetables Refrigerator Hackorganizing vegetables Refrigerator Hack
YouTube via Kristen McGowan

The best way to go about fridge organizing is to understand where products should be placed in order to last the longest and keep the best. For example, the top shelf is the "warmest" in comparison to the rest of the appliances, so keep your ready-to-eat foods, like leftovers or perishable items, up there.

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Middle Shelves

So what about the middle shelf? What goes there? The middle shelf is most commonly shaped to have the most space vertically, so let's make use of it! The middle shelves are best used for all things dairy, and if you have some extra space, place your juice cartons there as well.

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Instagram via @sortedsimplicity

The middle shelves are where all your dairy products can go, so pints of milk, yogurts, cheeses, eggs, and more. Some experts say soft cheeses and butter don't necessarily need to be placed on the cool shelf, but if you have space, throw them in there!

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The Bottom Shelf

So, what is best to store at the bottom of the fridge? Experts recommend keeping your raw meat and fish on the bottom shelf of your fridge because it is, in fact, the coldest part of your fridge, and you want any raw chicken or meat to be kept as cold as possible before cooking.

Refrigerator Hack meat sausageRefrigerator Hack meat sausage
YouTube via Kristen McGowan

Secondly, it is to prevent any potential cross-contamination. Chef Stephanie Nass says, “Raw poultry should always be at the very bottom of the fridge. It can carry salmonella, so put it below everything else so it cannot leak onto any ready-to-eat foods.”

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Creating Zones

By organizing your fridge in zones, you are more likely to find what you want instead of rummaging all over your fridge for the lonely cheese stick somewhere shoved in the back. Using zones will allow you to quickly get what you want when you want.

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YouTube via Kristen McGowan

"Create a snack zone, a drink zone, a produce zone, and [a] meal-prep zone," Sirriani suggests. She also reminded us all that "most refrigerators can adjust the shelving to make space for your specific needs," which is definitely something that we forget from time to time but can be a huge help when organizing!

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Separate Fruits and Veggies

Knowing what fruits and vegetables should not be stored together is a great step in cutting down on food waste! Some fruits and veggies produce ethylene glycol gas as they ripen, which can harm the produce they are placed next to, so it's best to separate all fruits and vegetables.

Fruit Veggies Refrigerator HackFruit Veggies Refrigerator Hack
Instagram via @ti_thehairdresser

"Probably the best example of this is storing onions with apples—you will end up with onion-scented apples!" according to John Adler, the vice president of culinary at Blue Apron. Bananas, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and more are ethylene sensitive, so best to separate your fruits and vegetables for the best outcome.

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Using Transparent Containers

This one might sound simple, but it's extremely effective. By investing in transparent containers, you can easily see what you have in your fridge and what you may need. This is great for leftovers, storing grains, dairy, or anything you feel fits best in a Tupperware box.

Clear Containers Fridge TipsClear Containers Fridge Tips
Instagram via @dusk2illdawn

By organizing food items in similar-sized Tupperware boxes and mason jars, you can create a more uniform appearance. Another pro tip here is to invest in square and rectangular containers instead of circular shapes, as it allows for more space.

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Reusable Vegetable Crispers

Not all refrigerators are built the same! For those that don't have vegetable crispers sitting at the bottom of the fridge, not a worry; it's easy to create one yourself. Pick up some plastic produce-keepers with holes to allow for airflow, and that's it!

Fruit Vegetable Crispers fridgeFruit Vegetable Crispers fridge
YouTube via Urban Rasoi

By using these plastic boxes with holes in them, we can help prevent mold from growing on the produce. Many of these store-bought plastic produce-keepers are divided down the middle to separate your fruits and veggies and prevent cross-contamination.

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Don't Pre-Cut Produce

Some people might think it's easier to pre-wash and cut fruits and vegetables before storing them in the fridge, but in reality, it's the opposite! Keep those vegetables whole before storing them, and give them a good wash before using them the first time as well.

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Instagram via @alphafoodie

In reality, pre-chopped vegetables that are stored in the refrigerator deteriorate and go off a lot more quickly than if you place them in as a whole. The best way to approach your fruits and veggies is to wash them and cut them right before you plan on consuming them!

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Grab a Lazy Susan

A lazy susan is really one of the most helpful house appliances you can get your hands on! Despite its incredibly misleading name, a lazy susan can store anything from cleaning products and shampoo to art supplies and, for this purpose, refrigerated goods.

Lazy Susan Fridge HacksLazy Susan Fridge Hacks
Instagram via @thatislelife

These days, lazy susans come in every shape, size, and color, so make sure to shop around for one that best fits you (and your fridge). Place anything from condiments and sauces to yogurts, dips, soda cans, and more on one of these, and get to spinning!

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Keep Bread Away From the Fridge

This is a PSA to all that have been doing it wrong for years. Experts advise keeping your bread far out of the fridge and keeping it in the freezer instead. On Food and Cooking, author Harold McGee says that certain breads can become stale six times faster if kept in the fridge.

Bread storage Freezer hackBread storage Freezer hack
Instagram via @crumb.sourdough.microbakery

So, the best way to preserve your bread for long periods of time is to keep it sliced in the freezer. Some say it can keep fresh for up to six months if kept well; however, if you want to leave it out on the counter as well, just make sure to keep it wrapped up in plastic or foil.

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Cleaning Produce

Food should always be washed before it's consumed, but according to Healthline, storing your produce unwashed in the refrigerator is the way to go. Moisture can ruin the quality of fruits and vegetables, causing them to rot and grow mold quicker.

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Instagram via @polish.girl.bakes

In order to expand their shelf life, avoid washing and storing produce altogether. Of course, it's important to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables to avoid any bacteria they might have picked up along the way, but just wait until you are ready to eat!

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Thaw Regularly

Sure, a fridge is not a freezer, but professional organizers still recommend thawing this major appliance at least once or two a year! A fridge still gets cold enough that if you do not defrost the fridge often enough, frost can build up over time and stop the natural function of the cooling system.

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YouTube via Videojug

Frost build up can also lead up to a strong odor over time, so if you get to that point, you know it's time! All you have to do is remove everything from the fridge, shut it off completely, prop open the doors, and put a towel down for any excess water to spill onto. When all the ice has melted, wipe down the insides.

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Invest in a Egg Holder

Investing in a plastic egg container is a great way to save space in your refrigerator as it allows you to stack other items or containers on top of it. Experts suggest storing your eggs on the middle shelf of the fridge, not the side door, in order to keep them as fresh as possible.

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Instagram via @project.organise

Some say it is best to leave your eggs in the original carton, but by transferring them to a plastic egg container, you can open up more room in your fridge. Storing eggs at a cool temperature will keep them safe, and make sure not to use them after the "best before" date!

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Label Everything!

Everyone is going to organize their refrigerator's a little bit differently, and that is okay! However, a trusted organizational method suggested by experts is to label everything! Labels will help you maintain the space in an organized and uniform fashion.

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Instagram via @alphafoodie

Regardless of how you decide to do it, labeling helps you quickly identify what it is that you want and makes it easier to put away when it's labeled. Whether it's by category, like "dairy" or "vegetables," or its specific products, like "orange juice" or "pickled cucumbers," labeling is really just the way to go.

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Keeping a List

This one is for those more organized people out there. If you are interested in knowing what is in your fridge at all times, keep a dry-erase list on the front of your refrigerator at all times. This will allow you to keep track of what you already have, making it easier to know what you need and don't really need!

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YouTube via Creatively Erica

If you have it broken down like this into days, you can effectively organize your meals for the week as well! Looks like this YouTube user is enjoying a variety of dinners and keeping things super organized for her week. Time to take some pro-tips from her, right?!

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Storing Herbs

Instead of letting your herbs go bad after just a few days in the fridge, try out one of these few pro tips and see your herbs last for two or three weeks! Tip one: cut off the bottom of the stems and remove any wilted leaves, and transfer them to a mason jar with an inch of water at the bottom.

Storing Herbs Fridge HacksStoring Herbs Fridge Hacks
Instagram via @hellonutritarian

Some pros recommend covering the top with a lid if it fits or using a small plastic bag to create a tent over the herbs. Others suggest wrapping or rolling the herbs in a damp paper towel to cover the entire herb, then storing it in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator.

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Refrigerating Ripe Avocados

We know how valuable a good avocado is, so listen carefully! Besides being one of the tastiest fruits (yes, they are technically fruits, not vegetables) on the market, they are also one of the trickiest to maintain. If you miss their sweet spot, they can be too hard or too soft, making them inedible.

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Instagram via @theavocadofactory

So, what's the trick here? Leave them out of the fridge until they are firm enough, then put them straight into the fridge to preserve their ripeness. For those that are only enjoying half an avocado at a time, squeeze some lemon on the avo, and it will remain fresher for longer.

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Drawer Storage

So, what is best to store in those drawers tucked away at the bottom? The drawers at the bottom of the fridge are great for keeping your vegetables, fruits, and herbs. These drawers have even been called salad drawers, which completely checks out!

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Instagram via @chefvikkik

Most of these crisp drawers have an adjustable humidity vent, which allows you to shut off the airflow to create more humidity or open it up. This creates a low-humidity space. Fruits and vegetables thrive best here, as it is unlikely they would get too cold or freeze, which would make them inedible.

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Add an Extra Shelf

This could be a game changer for maximizing space in your fridge! Sometimes you have way too much stuff hanging out in your fridge and not enough space to put it all. Investing in a cheap wire or plastic shelf allows you to organize your fridge and stack items on top of each other safely.

Organizer Fridge expert TipsOrganizer Fridge expert Tips
YouTube via Sisletter

By adding a bonus shelf, you can also easily store those taller items like milk cartons by laying them on their side. You might even have an extra stand lying around the house that you never needed in the first place - which you might have used for stacking papers. So, time to upcycle that.

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Using the Fridge Door

This is a tricky one. All our life, we were made to believe that milk goes in the fridge door, but in reality, it should go far from it! Laura Cattano, owner and founder of Laura Cattano Organizational Design, says, "Since the refrigerator door has the least consistent temperature, it's not good to have any kind of milk there."

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Instagram via @hellonutritarian

Milk should be placed on the middle shelf of the fridge with the rest of the dairy products! Cattano recommends, "Instead, use the door's shelves to group condiments, dressings, sauces, jams, and spreads." Got it. Time to do some major rearranging!

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Eat Me First Box

At the front of every fridge should be an "eat first box" to create an easy solution to prevent food waste. Dr. Anita Vandyke suggests creating "an eat first box and putting it on the top shelf of your fridge so that everyone in the household knows what to use up first."

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Instagram via @rocket_science

"Put in vegetables, fruit, or sauces that are close to its used by date and encourage everybody to use them up! It's a great way to save money, prevent food waste, and allows you to share the load with other people in the household," Dr. Vandyke says.

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Storing Lemons

Against popular belief, lemons are meant to be stored in the refrigerator, not the countertop! Richard LaMarita, a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, recommends keeping your lemons in the crisper drawer, explaining that they "can easily last a month or more there."

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Instagram via @peaceandtidy

Another way to keep your citrus fruit fresh as long as possible is by placing it in a zip-loc bag with 1/4 cup of water! Kitchen scientists at Cook's Illustrated tried this out, finding out that the lemons kept fresh for up to four weeks. And lastly, if you have too many spare lemons, freeze them! LaMarita says, "They freeze very well."

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Fridge Liners

Keeping your fridge tidy is a tough task, so why not invest in liners to make things a little bit easier? Fridge liners are simply thin plastic sheets that you can put on shelves and at the bottom of the drawers to keep things cleaner at all times.

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Instagram via @fridgecoaster

If there is a little spill, take out the liner and wash it instead of having to wash the fridge itself. These liners come in all sorts of designs, shapes, and sizes and can be completely individualized. However, make sure you invest in washable plastic liners, as paper ones won't do well with the humidity in the fridge.

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Food Pouch Slider

These food pouch hangers are great for optimizing your food storage space! The great thing about these is that they can be used both in the fridge and for the pantry. This nifty invention allows you to hang and organize food pouches instead of digging through the fridge to find what you need.

Fridge Pouch Sliders hacksFridge Pouch Sliders hacks
YouTube via storagetheory3468

These easy-to-use sliders can be installed simply by taking off the single-use peel-and-stick strips and placing each holder into its place and onto the surface of your choice. With the variety of food pouches available these days, this is a great solution for children to help themselves in the kitchen!

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The Swag Bag

A trusted hack to keep your produce organized and fresh is by investing in Swag Bags! These plastic-free bags are created from 100% compostable and toxic-free cotton in order to help preserve the longevity of your favorite fruits and vegetables and stop unneeded food waste.

Swag Bag Fridge TipsSwag Bag Fridge Tips
Instagram via @roundedandgrounded

According to the official Swag Bag website, their product is "scientifically proven to keep fruit and veggies fresh and crisp for two weeks or more." Now that's a lot! Store the bag with your produce inside a crisper or on your fridge shelves. Just dampen the bag with water, and enjoy your fresh produce.

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