Okay, let’s jump into making our homes clutter-free clean. Are you ready?
I’m starting things off by decluttering the refrigerator. Now, I know that may seem like an odd place to start, But I have my reasons:
- It absolutely fits the bill as being high-impact. We use it every day, and it affects every member of our household.
- Regardless of how clean or messy the rest of your house is, the refrigerator is still fairly small and can be cleaned in a relatively short period of time.
- It provides quick success with potentially lasting results. (Well, the clean should last at least the rest of the week, right?)
- When it’s a cluttered mess, it drives us absolutely crazy.
- Because I haven’t detail cleaned mine in months. Months, ya’ll.
But before we tackle the fridge, it’s good to do some simple prep work.
1. Be sure the dishwasher (if you have one) is fairly empty – you need room for the containers from the expired leftover you’re going to throw away. If you don’t have a dishwasher, then fill the sink with soapy water so you can easily dump the dirty dishes in.
2. Be sure the dishes are washed – you need the sink to be ready for the dishes you’ll find hiding in the fridge that can’t go in the dishwasher. Plus, you won’t want to wash anything extra after you’re done cleaning.
3. Be sure you have a clear countertop – you need space to unload the refrigerator shelves while you’re sorting and scrubbing.
4. Be sure the trash can has plenty of room – you need an almost-empty trash bag ready for quickly dumping outdated and yucky food, and you do NOT want to stop in the middle of the job to run the full bag out to the garage. Trust me on this one.
5. Be sure to have a large bowl of soapy water and a sponge ready – you’ll appreciate having your water close to your work (instead of in the sink). You can sprinkle a little baking soda in it, too, if you want.
Just one word of warning before we begin.
You are going to throw away food. You are going to throw away food that you paid good money for. You are going to throw away food you had high hopes for but nobody wanted to eat.
Just suck it up and do the job that needs done. Throw it away and move on with life. Give yourself permission to toss without guilt. I always tell myself that guilt-free trashing is a gift I’m choosing to give myself.
There’s no crying in refrigerator cleaning.
Let’s get started.
Beginning with the door, work your way down from the top, emptying one shelf or section at a time onto the free countertop. By only unloading one area at a time, you aren’t creating a new disaster area while trying to clean up a different one.
Look at every single item you remove. Check for expiration dates and toss anything that is past its prime.
Also think if anyone will ever use the product. Seriously, don’t keep food that nobody will eat. That’s called clutter, and we don’t need despised condiments, gross salad dressings, or mushy pickles cluttering our fridge.
Wash the shelf with soapy water, then start loading the keepers back into the fridge.
Consolidate and use your space as wisely as possible. Group like-items together (the natural peanut butter beside the jelly, all the salad dressings together, etc.). Also be on the lookout for things that could go in the door instead of on an interior shelf.
Then move on down to the next area. Continue until you have finished with the entire door.
Once the door is decluttered, cleaned, and organized, it is time to move to the rest of the fridge.
Following the same principles, unpack one surface at a time onto the counter, evaluating each item and washing the shelf before replacing everything. Again, do NOT keep anything that won’t get eaten.
As you’re loading the food back in, think about how you can group items together in a way that will prevent them from getting lost in the great abyss in the back of the fridge. For example, I like to keep all my leftovers on one shelf (as much as possible) so I don’t have to go searching when someone could eat last night’s dinner for today’s snack.
Also, think about how you can use up anything that is still good enough to eat, but is nearing the end of its prime. Use the veggies for your kids’ snack boxes,make a fun muffin tin lunch, change tomorrow’s dinner to include the chicken you forgot about, or toss the not-quite-expired food into the freezer for using on a different week’s menu plan.
From now on, try to clean the refrigerator as you go along through the week. If you start to grab a carton of leftovers, but think, “No, I don’t know if that’s still good,” you should probably go ahead and trash it. Really, if you won’t eat it today, you’re not going to magically think it’s fresher tomorrow.
And each week before making your new menu and grocery list, do a quick clean of the refrigerator. You won’t necessarily want to do a detailed clean-and-wash each time, but a quick look-and-toss will keep the chore from getting out of control.
Tackle the freezer, too, if you dare.
If you happen to have some energy left after making your refrigerator shine, you could deal with the freezer, too.
Look at each item and decide if it will ever get used. If you don’t know what it is, then you probably won’t eat it. Most of us sort of funny when it comes to eating mysterious freezer-burned food.
Just like the foods in the refrigerator, the freezer is easier to manage if similar things are grouped together. It’s nice to easily see what raw meat you have for next week’s menu or which kinds of vegetables you can choose from for dinner tonight.
While you’re putting everything back into the deep freeze, grab a piece of paper and list what you have. See what you can use up on your next meal plan. Maybe you can even let the kids polish off those popsicles or cartons of ice cream. Yum!
Did you take the challenge and deal with the fridge today? Do you feel better? Tell us about it in the comments!