Be honest. When you went to your refrigerator this morning for the milk for your coffee, the butter for your toast or the juice for the kids did it really look organized? Or did you actually have to dig for that second juice box, or find that the milk was a little warm and maybe a little on the turn?

A cluttered, disorganized refrigerator is a common problem in lots of Houston homes. And, as time consuming, annoying and sometimes even downright icky it can be, there does come a time when decluttering and organizing your fridge is a must. But before you get started, there are some things I have learned over the years about refrigerators and how they should be used and organized that many people don’t know, but should.

As April arrives, and everyone starts thinking about – if not quite doing – spring cleaning it seems a good time for me to share some of that wisdom.

An Overfilled Fridge is Bad, But An Empty Fridge Isn’t a Good Thing Either

Fridge interior almost empty due to economic crisis

If something falls out of your fridge every time you open the door, or if you KNOW you bought cold cuts but have a hard time finding them, it’s definitely time to declutter your fridge. Filling every inch of your refrigerator can not only leads to lost food and bruised toes from soda cans falling on them but also to blocked vents, impeded airflow and wasted energy.

That having been said, there is such a thing as fridge that is too empty. An empty fridge has a hard time maintaining proper cool temperatures too, so even if you live alone and hardly ever eat in – and therefore maintain a fridge that’s pretty bare – add some extra bottles of water (at least) to help the fridge do its job. Ideally, to operate at its best and to avoid food spoilage a fridge should be kept two thirds full.

Milk Should Not Be Stored in the Door

The warmest parts of any refrigerator are the top shelf and inside the door. And this holds true even if your refrigerator is brand new. This means that the very common practice of storing milk in the door is a bad one. Milk spoils fast, so it needs to go where things are coldest; the middle shelf.

Fruits and Vegetables Need to Live Separately

Most modern refrigerators have two drawers; one marked for vegetables, and the other for fruits. However, after a big shop, or a busy morning at the farmer’s market you may be tempted to slide a few of the veggies in with the fruits because you bought a few more than you thought and the vegetable drawer is in danger of overflowing.

This, however, is rarely a good idea. The vegetable drawer is calibrated for high-humidity produce – greens will wilt more slowly slower when there’s moisture in their air and the fruit drawer is set for low humidity as, most fruits rot slower in low humidity. There is one exception though; strawberries.

How many times have you been excited to open a new punnet of strawberries only to find them moldy or mushy? You can extend their freshness by storing them in the vegetable crisper instead of the fruit drawer. Like vegetables, strawberries enjoy humidity, and will fare a lot better with the lettuce.

Trays, Bins, and Baskets DO Belong in the Fridge

Those who know me, or who have worked with me as a professional organizer know that I advocate for the use of trays, bins, and baskets throughout your home—and that extends to your fridge.

Just like it’s SO visually pleasing to see pantry shelves compartmentalized and properly organized with the help of bins and trays, a refrigerator that takes advantage of these organizational tools is a joy to behold and to use.

Your Disorganized Fridge Is Probably Costing You Money

According to a Johns Hopkins University study, 31 to 40% of the American food supply is wasted, and Americans spend $161.6 billion a year on food that goes to waste. One way to combat food waste in your home is to make sure you know what’s in your refrigerator at all times.

Take the time to organize your refrigerator and find a place for everything—and there will be far fewer what-is-that-jar-of-mold-lurking-in-the-back moments. You can even designate an “Eat Me First” bin of food items that will go bad soon.

Some of you may have seen those smart fridges that tell you what is in your fridge without having to open it. These are great, very Jetsons and sci-fi, but they also cost a small fortune. You can do the same however with a wipe off memo board. As you add items to the fridge, mark it on the board. As you use them, wipe them off. While it might take a few days for everyone in your home to get used to doing it the effort will be worth while!

Need help with decluttering, or home, life or office organization in general? Just Organized by Taya can help. Book a free 15-minute Zoom consultation today, so we can discuss your personal needs and just how we can help.

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