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How to Organize a Fridge: This Lazy Susan Trick Makes It So Easy to See What’s Inside + More Genius Pro Tips

Plus, how to sidestep spills and odors and keep produce fresh!

Having a restocked refrigerator is always a great feeling — until you’re trying to fit your latest grocery haul inside and you can’t find enough space to put everything! Condiments, leftover dishes, soda cans and more can all take up valuable shelf space and easily end up “lost” the more crowded your appliance is. And that can lead to waste since foods you forgot were in there can go bad, or you end up buying more than one of the same thing since you couldn’t see that you already had it! Thankfully, it’s quite easy to avoid the chaos. Below you’ll find tips on how to organize a fridge from organizing pros, plus the easy ways to keep shelves clean and ward off any unpleasant odors.

1. How to organize a fridge: Corral leftovers

Labeled leftovers containers organize a fridge
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You love having leftovers ready to go for busy nights, but keeping them organized can be easier said than done, as most fridges are deep but not wide. “And that means items often get lost in the back and go bad before you get a chance to eat them,” says professional organizer Debra Baida of Liberated Spaces. To prevent this from happening, simply put a lazy Susan on the back of a shelf. “This way, you just need a quick spin to see everything,” she says. “It’s especially handy for keeping leftovers in your sight line for meal planning.”

Also smart: Use a certain shelf or area in the fridge and call it the leftover section. “This dedicated space will help everyone to locate things quickly, which means they will get eaten,” shares Heather Aiello, CEO and founder of The Organized You.

Even if your leftovers are easily accessible, you may encounter another issue: not knowing when they need to be consumed by or what items should be eaten first. The solution? “I like to label leftovers with dates which also helps track their freshness, so I use washable stickers,”says Bridget Flynn, home organizer and owner of Divine Organizing. Using erasable labels for food containers (that are dishwasher and microwave safe) means you can re-use them over and over and simply adjust the date as needed. One to try: MESS Food Labels for Containers (Buy from Amazon, $12.35)

2. How to organize a fridge: Store produce *this* way

Produce organized in a fridge
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Fresh fruits and veggies are a staple in your house. The problem? Bags of grapes, apples and the like aren’t just challenging to store, their packaging often speeds spoilage. “That’s why I wash fresh produce, dry it and stash it in clear, moisture-proof bins in the middle of the fridge— it’s easy to store, easy to see and easy to eat,” says Baida. “Plus, studies prove that stashing healthier foods in clear view encourages you to eat them.”

No room for bins? Your crisper drawers are still a great place to store produce, but there are a couple of steps you should take to help items last. First, set the drawer to low humidity for foods prone to rotting (like apples and nectarines) and high humidity for anything that can wilt (like greens and herbs).

You’ll also want to ensure you don’t overpack the drawers — keep them at about two-thirds capacity, which keeps the temperature stable and allows for free airflow.

Keeping your produce sorted is also key for peak freshness. “Store fruits and vegetables in different drawers to prevent ethylene gas (produced by fruits) from spoiling the vegetables quickly,” explains Flynn. For both drawers, she recommends lining with paper towels for easy cleanup!

Related: Wrap Your Bananas in This Kitchen Staple, Plus 4 Other Pro Tricks to Keep Your Produce Fresh For Longer

3. How to organize a fridge: Create condiment categories

Everything from ketchup to soy sauce can quickly become a chaotic mess with all of the bottles you have in your fridge. For that reason, the pros say it’s best to start your organizing by grouping like items together (mustards, salad dressings, etc.). “You can create condiment categories and assign a spot either on the door or on a shelf for each category,” says Aiello.

If you opt to store like-condiments together on a shelf in the appliance, lazy Susans can be a helpful tool here too! “Using these will prevent things falling to the back and make for much easier access,” adds Aiello. Plus, if you can easily see what you have, you’ll be far less likely to accidentally buy a condiment you already have on hand.

See how well a turntable works in the TikTok from @keepitsimplesparkles below:

@keepitsimplesparkles

These two organization products have helped make my refrigerator more functional! I think we all can agree lining up condiments bottles is a truly terrible way to store these (so hard to see what you have)… And conventional turntables don’t fit everything and leave too much wasted space I found this larger slide out turntable by that maximizes the space on any shelf making large or shorter items easier to grab. And it’s not just for the fridge. I love you! Let’s talk drinks! But not just soda. These spring forward drink organizers can be adjusted to fit cans of all sizes, water, and even wine! (They come in counter depth and standard depth) I hope you love them too!! #fridgeorganization #refridgerator #functionalkitchen #organizedkitchen #efficient #fridgegoals #efficientkitchen

♬ original sound – KeepItSimpleSparkles

Prefer to keep the bottles on a shelf? Try this trick: Remove an egg carton’s lid, nestle the bottom into a door shelf, then place the bottles upside down into the wells. “This prevents tipping and catches drips,” says pro organizer Brenda Scott of Tidy My Space.

4. How to organize a fridge: Display small items *here*

Magazine files can be used to organize a fridge

Yogurts, cans and other “short” packages can hog real estate on fridge shelves. Plus, when they’re standing upright, the items (like soda cans) snag a ton of shelf space in your fridge while leaving unusable empty space above them. This can be especially frustrating when you only have a few shelves to work with. The fix: Lay magazine files on their sides to create mini “shelves,” and fill with the items. “The files contain foods and cans that might otherwise get lost or topple over,” says Abby Kahn, founder and pro organizer of Abbsolutely Organized.

Another way to reclaim that real estate: Repurpose an old wine rack so you can store bottles horizontally, recommends Amanda Clark, owner of Ever So Organized. “I use stackable acrylic wine holders for water bottles, sports drinks and, of course, wine!”

Related: The File Folder Hack That Keeps Your Linen Closet Organized + More Brilliant Tips

5. How to organize a fridge: Group like things together

“Keep your items in the fridge categorized and then assign an area for each category,” advises Aiello. “This helps everyone to know where things are and will help to know what needs to be replenished.”

For instance, each shelf can be used for a different purpose to conquer fridge chaos.  “On the upper shelf, place ready-to-eat meals for easy access,” says Clark. “And since heat rises, keep foods that spoil easily like eggs, meat and milk, on the lowest shelf.”

Regardless of what categories you create and store on each shelf, keep the most used items at the front of easy access, adds Flynn.

How to keep your fridge mess-free and clean

To nix odors

activated charcoal for a clean fridge
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Sure, you know putting a box of baking soda in the fridge helps eliminate smells, but there’s now a better option: activated charcoal. One study found it lasts up to three times longer than baking soda. Even better? Activated charcoal reduces moisture and humidity, which means it cuts down on mold and mildew, making your food last longer.

A few versions of activated charcoal even stick onto the walls of your fridge to maximize space. One option: remodeez Refrigerator Deodorizer Eliminator with activated charcoal (Buy on Amazon, $11.69).

Another low-cost alternative you can try: Oatmeal. Simply place an open container of dry oatmeal on a shelf in your fridge The oatmeal will soak up the stench so it smells fresh once again. Just replace the container or add more oatmeal as needed to keep any future odors away.

To protect against spills

“No more scrubbing or doing yoga moves to reach spills in the back,” says housekeeping expert Gladys Connelly, explaining it’s easy to create your own fridge liners to protect against messes. While most quality fridge liners cost more than $25 per pack, you can get the same effect by picking up a pack of vinyl or plastic place mats from the dollar store for less than $10. Simply cut the mats to fit — and stick with lighter colored mats, which won’t block the fridge light from reaching lower shelves.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.


For more organizing tips, keep reading!

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Get Your Kitchen Clutter Under Control With 5 Long-Lasting Tips

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