The refrigerator is one of the hottest spots in any kitchen. Many of us open our fridges every day—multiple times a day. And when left unchecked, all that action is a recipe for disorder.
Over time, expired groceries, forgotten leftovers, and haphazardly crammed items can add up, leaving you with a fridge that’s tough to navigate. Thankfully, with a little cleaning and organizing, you can get your fridge back in tip-top shape in no time at all.
To find out how to organize a fridge like a pro, we turned to six professional organizers. They walked us through their favorite strategies for keeping a fridge organized and shared some of their go-to products for getting the job done.
Go Through Everything in Your Fridge
Before you can organize your fridge, you need to take inventory. Take everything out of your refrigerator, and sift through it.
“The most important thing is to start with a clean slate,” Holly Blakey, a professional organizer at Breathing Room, says. “You have to take everything out, check expiration dates, clean the surfaces, and categorize.” Toss expired items, throw out old leftovers, and get rid of stuff you just won’t use.
An empty fridge is easier to clean than a full fridge. Once you’ve taken everything out of your fridge, give it a quick wipe-down.
Give Each Food Category a Home
One easy way to organize your fridge? Sort your stuff into categories. Put fruits in one group, veggies in another, condiments in another—and so on. This can make it easier to see what you have and what you need to stock up on.
“Determine where makes the most sense for each category to live,” Ashley Murphy, co-founder of NEAT Method, says. Designate a home for each food category, and keep your go-to items at eye level where they’ll be easy to grab and put away.
Create an “Eat First” Section
Cut down on food waste by creating an “eat first” section in your fridge.
“I love to have an ‘eat first’ bin/section, so that family members clearly know what they need to eat when they open the fridge,” Blakey says. You can outfit a bin or basket with a cute label that says “eat first," or you can simply dedicate a shelf to those time-sensitive items.
Stock Up on Food Storage Containers
Food storage containers are a must in any fridge. They’re great for storing leftovers and grouping loose items. And a streamlined set will help you keep your fridge neat and tidy.
“Most people have random plastic containers, reused take-out boxes, and recycled yogurt containers,” Joanna Wirick, life and home professional organizer at Joanna Organize, says. “Investing in the same type of container gives your fridge a nice, organized look.”
Get Rid of Store-Bought Packaging
It makes sense to keep store-bought items in the containers they came with, but all that bulky packaging may be cluttering up your fridge.
“Snacks like yogurt, juice boxes, cheese sticks, and more usually come in boxes or additional packaging," Wirick says. "Take the snacks out of that packaging. Not only can you easily see what you have, but you can get rid of the loud, visual clutter all at once.”
Add Drawers If You Don’t Have Them
If your fridge is low on drawers, you can use stackable drawers to get more storage space. “If your fridge doesn’t have the drawers you need, you can add more with stacking acrylic containers,” Murphy says.
Adjust Your Shelves
Refrigerator shelves are often adjustable, so take advantage of this and customize your fridge to suit your needs.
“So many refrigerator organization challenges can be solved by moving the height of the shelf,” Michele Vig, founder and chief organizer at Neat Little Nest, says. “If you buy tall beverages, give yourself enough height to store them properly, and place other taller items on that shelf.”
Keep Your Labels General
Labeling can be a great way to cement your organization system—but don’t make your labels too specific, our pros advise.
“The fridge is an area that you don’t want to over-categorize with labels, because you are likely buying different items each week based on season and recipes,” Murphy says.
If you have a bin labeled "Apples," you will feel like you always need to buy apples. Instead, make your life easier by labeling the bin “Fruit.”
Make the Most of Your Door
Your refrigerator door can turn into a catch-all for random odds and ends. But, there are some items you probably shouldn’t store there.
“Since the refrigerator door has the least consistent temperature, it's not good to have any kind of milk there,” Laura Cattano, owner and founder of Laura Cattano Organizational Design, says. “Instead, use the door's shelves to group condiments, dressings, sauces, jams, and spreads.”
Prep Your Groceries Before Storing Them
If you’re big on fruit and vegetables, do your prep work before putting produce in the fridge. You can also throw together salads and make entire meals, keeping them in food storage containers so they’ll be easy to grab when you need them.
“I’m all about helping your future self,” Wirick says. “Wash and cut those fruits and veggies for easy access later.”
Snag an Egg Holder
An egg holder may sound unnecessary, but the sleek bin can make your fridge look cleaner—and help you keep track of how many eggs you have left.
“Take your eggs out of their container to create a uniform look and keep track of when you are running low,” Murphy says.
Store Herbs in Glass Jars
Fresh herbs often wilt in a matter of days, but storing them in water can keep them fresher longer.
“Store herbs in glass jars with water,” Blakey writes on her Instagram. “They last so much longer and brighten up any fridge.”
According to her, you don’t need fancy organization products for this one. Any ol’ glass jar should do the trick.
Segment Your Drawers With Dividers
Big refrigerator drawers are great for storage space, but they aren’t great for organization. With produce rolling around and items piled on top of each other, it can be hard to keep track of all your stuff. But a few drawer dividers should help you solve these common problems.
“Drawer dividers will keep items separated within your drawers, preventing things from getting jumbled up and sliding all over the place,” Murphy says.
Stock Up on Stackable Bins
Stackable bins are a favorite among professional organizers—and it’s not hard to see why. The bins are great for keeping food organized. And since you can stack them, they’ll help you take advantage of all your shelf space.
“If you're tight on bin space and your items are crowding each other, stacking bins can work wonders,” Blakey says. “They’re so helpful for containing and separating categories, such as cheese, meats, snacks, and small items."
Before buying any storage bins, take a moment to measure your fridge. That way, you can be sure everything fits in the space, as well as save you time and money, according to Murphy.
Use a Lazy Susan to Store Condiments
Putting a Lazy Susan in your fridge may sound strange, but it’s a great way to store sauces and condiments.
“Lazy Susans can be really helpful if you have a lot of condiments but not enough door space,” Blakey says. Plus, since Lazy Susans spin, they make it easy to access the condiment you’re currently craving.
Invest in One Pretty Basket
Glass storage containers and acrylic storage bins can make your fridge look sleek and streamlined. But, Blakey recommends throwing one woven basket in the mix.
“A simple woven basket is one of my go-to's for storing categories, such as ‘tonight's dinner’ or ‘eat first,’” she says. “I love having a pretty basket in the fridge—it completely transforms the look of it.”
Keep Your Fridge Clean
Organizing your fridge is one thing—and keeping it organized is another. So, if you want your fridge to stay neat and tidy, you’ll have to clean it regularly.
“We recommend cleaning at least quarterly to toss things that are expired or got lost in the back, wash down shelves and drawers, and rezone and group as needed,” Liz Jenkins, owner of A Fresh Space, says.