How to declutter a fridge like a professional organizer in 6 steps

Our experts share 6 tips on how to declutter a fridge quickly

A split image showing a clear plastic drinks caddy in a fridge on the left and a three tiered shelf on the right with foods neatly organized into storage bins
(Image credit: Target)

When planning how to declutter a fridge, follow in the footsteps of our professional organizers and breeze through the process in six simple steps.

Our experts share tips to whip your fridge into shape fast, including how best to categorize your items, utilize smart storage caddies, strategic labelling and more.

With the help of our pros, it’ll be easier than ever to organize a fridge. Grab a trash bag and get stuck in. 

Here’s how to declutter a fridge

Organizing a kitchen and making sure your fridge is clutter-free should be at the top of your list if you constantly find yourself struggling to fit your groceries in there. 

Decluttering your fridge will also improve air flow and boost not only the energy efficiency of the appliance, but keep your fresh produce from going bad too quickly. 

1. Empty and assess

Here's how to declutter a fridge quickly and efficiently according to professional organizers and expert cleaners.

(Image credit: Let Your Space Bloom / Amy Bloomer)

First things first. Professional organizer, Leslie Kilgour says, “Empty out your fridge, removing all items and placing them on your kitchen counter. Tackle the door and condiment chaos by prioritizing essentials and discarding expired items.” 

Leslie Kilgour
Leslie Kilgour

Leslie Kilgour is the founder of Get It Straight Professional Organizing. She lives on Long Island and is the mother to two children.

Karina Toner, Operations Manager, Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is a cleaning expert and the Operations Manager at Washington D.C.-based Spekless Cleaning. 

2. Categorize items

Leslie says, “Next, categorize the items into groups like fruits, vegetables, dairy, and condiments. Consider investing in clear storage containers (we like these storage containers from Amazon) for a visually pleasing and organized look. Don't forget to label leftovers to avoid the mystery dish situation.”

As with the fridgescaping trend, for easier organization, cleaning expert, Karina Toner advises allocating zones in your appliance. “Create these for specific categories such as fruits, and vegetables. This makes it easier to locate items and maintain order." 

It also pays know how best to store different food types in your fridge, as well as whether you should wash fruits and vegetables before storing them

3. Clean the fridge

An image of an open fridge with three shelves with clear plastic food caddies organized with fresh foods and snacks

(Image credit: Amazon)

Once empty, deep clean your fridge, working from top to bottom, and removing each shelf and drawer to clean inside — don't forget the sides and top.

Wash the removable elements in warm soapy water (we like to use Dawn dish soap from Amazon for this) with a non-abrasive dish cloth (these cotton fruit and stripes dish cloths from Target are pretty and machine-washable). Once cleaned, leave to fully dry, before returning.

For the inside of the fridge, use a mixture of baking soda (we like to recommend this Arm and Hammer baking soda from Target) and lemon juice (which will not only clean but also deodorize the space) mixed with warm water. Once clean, make sure to dry the fridge entirely using paper towels.

4. Use shelves and drawers smartly

Make the most of your fridge’s shelves and drawers, popping items you use most within easy reach. Nobody wants to dig around multiple times a day for the oat milk.

Leslie says, “Arrange your shelves strategically and place frequently used items at eye level for easy access. Consider using drawer dividers for produce organization.”

To avoid wastage, store newer items at the back and older items towards the front to help use everything before they expire.

“Use the fridge door for items with a longer shelf life," Karina adds, "such as condiments and sauces. Door storage is ideal for items that don't require consistent cooling.”

5. Invest in fridge storage

A colorful, well-organized fridge with fresh produce and jars of food organized by color

(Image credit: Kristen Hong/@hellonutritarian)

To keep your fridge neat and ordered, getting your hands on the right storage can be helpful. 

Karina says, “Use clear containers (a pack of five airtight food storage boxes with lids from Amazon would work well) for leftovers and pre-prepared ingredients. This enhances visibility and reduces the chances of forgetting items.”

She also advises that labeling (these reusable labels from Amazon are highly rated) is an important step for a more organized space. Karina says, “Label containers and shelves to designate specific areas for different food items.”

You can also note expiration dates or jot down the day you cooked something, so leftovers don't go to waste for lack of information on whether it's still safe to eat.

6. Establish a routine

Now you've nailed the steps for how to declutter your fridge, make sure it stays clutter-free and properly organized in the longer term to avoid the need for another big clearing out session. 

Keeping to a cleaning and decluttering rota will be helpful in maintaining the orderly status moving forward.

Leslie adds, “Maintaining a clutter-free fridge is all about implementing simple yet effective habits. Establish a routine for monthly check-ins to maintain the newfound order.

"These consistent practices will not only keep your fridge clutter-free, but also make it a more functional and enjoyable space in your daily life.”

Now you’ve got your fridge into shape, you might be wondering whether it’s as easy to organize your freezer.

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.