Life Style

How to Clean a Fridge in 15 Minutes and Keep It Clean

Whether you’re preparing to host a crowd for the holidays or feeding your own crowd on a regular Monday, you know how quickly the fridge can fill up. It’s difficult to use what you have when you can’t see it, and it’s even more difficult to keep things as fresh as possible when you can’t see what you have. Never be afraid! You can clean your refrigerator and keep it clean in less time than you think.

If you’re like most of us, wiping the slate (ahem, fridge) clean comes to mind when you open the fridge door and notice an unpleasant odor or something dripping from shelf to shelf. Shira Gill, a professional organizer, understands. And she claims you can finish the job in 15 minutes.

Gill’s organizational genius focuses on starting small, doing what you start and finish in 15 minutes so you can see the fruit of your efforts without having to leave a big cleanup half-done when life interferes.

Remove Everything

“Ideally, you want to remove everything from the fridge,” she says. “Have recycling and compost bins ready so you can reduce as much as possible” while you are getting everything out. 


Wipe It Down

Once you get all the contents of your refrigerator that don’t obviously belong in either the compost or recycling bins onto the counter, it’s time for the cleanup. “Give it a thorough clean and wipe down inside,” Gill says. “Maybe add baking soda to freshen it up if needed.”

Granted, if it’s been a long while since your appliance was scrubbed out, this part might take a few minutes more than 15, but the general idea is the same. To keep the task as quick as possible, she suggests putting it on your cleaning calendar at least seasonally. “Ideally, you would go through once a month, but if I am being honest, I don’t do it more than once a season,” Gill says. “Do a quick edit when you are putting away groceries weekly and reset the 15-minute win to wipe surfaces, toss old food, and set [your]self up for the week ahead. Making it a part of your routine is less difficult.”

Edit: Is It Fresh? Is It Edible?

Once it has been wiped down, Gill suggests a quick, rapid-fire edit of the items that remain. 

“Ask yourself, ‘Is it fresh? Will anyone still eat it? Empty jars and cans of leftovers to get rid of food waste,” Gill says. “Then, recycle containers so you are only putting back things that are fresh that you are going to eat and use.”


When you are ready to put your food items back into the fridge, Gill says you should group things in broad categories: Put dairy with dairy, meats with meats, and the same organizational method with veggies, leftovers and beverages. And don’t just stuff things back inside the icebox in these categories.

“I suggest decanting as much as you can out of the packaging,” Gill says. “What I see a lot is people shove in leftovers, etc., [but] it doesn’t look appealing so it doesn’t get eaten and it expires.”

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Sort by Expiration

“Put anything that would expire or go bad right in the front of the fridge,” she says. “Must-eat foods. Put produce in crisper drawers and dairy, eggs, and leftovers on upper shelves. Put beverages and condiments on shelves in the door.” She says dairy and eggs do better when they are kept toward the top of the fridge.

Keep It Clear

Gill is a fan of sorting things into clear, stackable containers that also nest for storage. “I like making your fridge pretty and appealing. I take eggs out of the carton and put them in a ceramic holder. If I have prepared foods, I cut them up and put them in a glass container.”

She uses clear, airtight glass containers when she can. Plastics can leach chemicals into food and drink and make it a little more difficult to see exactly what is inside. “Avoiding plastic whenever possible is good for the environment and sustainable. I try to avoid plastics much as possible. Glass lasts longer. And plastic can be porous and harder to clean.”

This method even works well for those days when you are prepping food for future meals to save time on a busy day. Keeping your ingredients in airtight containers helps you see everything at a glance when it’s time to get a quick meal on the table. “You can create a meal prep zone on a shallow shelf with sauce, prepped veggies or whatever for really easy, five-minute meals.”

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Support Your Vision

Having a clear vision of what you have in the fridge can also help with health goals. “If you are trying to change how you eat, create a wellness zone at eye level with supplements and veggies that you want to eat. Most fridges have adjustable shelves so you can move them around for what you need to store at the time.”

You can even store your fresh herbs in glasses with water to keep them fresh or repackage your drinks to keep your fridge looking organized and clean. “Things like decanting milk and juice into pitchers kind of elevates the every day, like you are at your own bed and breakfast,” Gill says. 

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