How to Deep Clean and Organize Your Fridge Sustainably: A Step by Step Guide

Cleaning up the fridge is by no means my favourite activity but a necessary one. In our home, we try our best to clean out our refrigerator once a month. It helps us keep track of expiry dates and what is left behind. I do enjoy the process for the sake of keeping track of our habits and helping us avoid foods waste. The more ways to save on waste the better in my book.

So for my #organizeoctober event, I’ve come up with an easy-to-follow 15 step process to deep clean and organize my fridge that I’m going to share with you today. I am sure there are steps here you haven’t really thought about before reading this article. If I challenge you to think more sustainably in just one new way — it’s worth a read!

How to clean your fridge sustainably:

  • Use non-toxic cleaning products

    All you really need is vinegar, water, a zero-waste brush, rags or cotton towels.

  • Avoid food waste by using a meal planner

    Meal planning done right can save lots of food from being thrown away. I created a special meal planner for people who would really like to avoid food waste. My husband and I tested a few times and we just love it. We realized that it saved about 60% of the food going into the compost.

  • Get creative with your recipes

    Reusing some ingredients or foods and being creative in the kitchen can save food from the bin even more. It is required you have some experience cooking though.

  • Keep your fridge clean and clean the filter

    A clean fridge and filter will help proper and efficient functioning. The cleaner the fridge, the less power is needed to run it.

    Here is my step-by-step process of cleaning the fridge sustainably:

  1. Prep for cleaning your fridge

    You will need some things before you start cleaning your fridge:

    • Fresh baking soda

    • Cleaning vinegar

    • Cotton towels or rags

    • 2 hours of your time

  2. Empty up space in your kitchen

    You need some empty space to set all the things you have in your fridge and some empty space to dry the drawers and the shelves after cleaning.

    how fast meat can stay out of the fridge?

    Meat (raw or cooked) can stay out of the fridge up at room temperature for no more than two hours. The heat allows the meat bacteria to grow and multiply much faster.

  3. Take out ALL the things in the fridge

    It is important to take out all the food, drawers and shelves. This will allow you to REALLY get in there and deep clean the whole fridge.

  4. Take out all the shelves and drawers to clean them

    Start by washing the meat drawer. That drawer will be the first to go back in. Meat bacteria is unfortunately inevitable so I use regular soap and warm water to clean the drawers. I try to dry them out as much as I can before putting them back in the fridge. I use a combination of a clean cotton towel and air drying for the shelves and drawers.

    You will need some extra counter space for this step to dry all the shelves and drawers in your fridge.

  5. Clean up the inside of your fridge

    I recommend using water and vinegar to clean the inside of your fridge. Any other products can bring in chemicals and toxins that will end up on your food.

    Choosing sustainable products to clean your fridge that’s what will make your fridge cleaning more eco-friendly.

    What tools to use to clean the inside of your fridge:

    - cleaning vinegar

    - Sweedish cloth

    - rags or cotton towels

    What tools to use to clean the shelves and drawers

    - warm water

    - non-toxic dish soap

    - bamboo cleaning brush

  6. Figure out where the coolest spot is on your fridge

    The reason why you need to know where the coolest spot is in your fridge is because that’s the area where your meat and dairy will be stored.

    Every fridge is built differently. You will need to check the brand and the model to figure out how it is recommended to use your fridge.

  7. Put the meat in the fridge

    As soon as you finished cleaning the inside of your fridge, put back the meat drawer and put back the meat in the fridge.

    Although I have a meat drawer, I like using a big glass dish to seal the meat so it doesn't;t contaminate other spaces.

  8. Replace the baking soda

    How often to replace baking soda in your fridge?

    You need to replace your baking soda every month but every two months will be just fine.

    What is the role of baking soda in a fridge?

    Baking soda will absorb any bad smells and moisture.

  9. Organize your fridge

    Every fridge is different. I recommend googling your fridge brand and model to see what recommendations they have for organizing the fridge.

    I am using the Whirlpool website as inspiration, however, I never agreed with having the Milk on the fridge’s door.

  10. Use the meal planner for sustainable people

    The meal planner for sustainable people is meant for people trying to reduce their food waste. It was created and tested by my husband and me. We reduce about 60% of our food waste once we started seriously using it.

  11. Compost at home

    Composting at home is a great way to create nutritious soil for your plants and garden. If you have the opportunity to compost at home, check out this article “How to Compost at Home”.

  12. Invent new recipes with things that are going bad

    Makin something new from foods that are almost going bad is one of my favourite things to do in the kitchen. If you have some old boiled pasta as we did, you can add some shredded cheese and some sugar on top, put it in the oven for 25 minutes and you have a new delicious meal.

  13. Add to your grocery list as you go

    While you are probably planning for meals, you will realize you do not have some ingredients to make the meals you want. Keep adding those ingredients to the list as you go. I always forget If I tell myself that I will add it later.

    This way, you are going to have a list of things you actually need and will avoid buying food that can potentially go to waste.

  14. Clean the fridge filter

    My fridge has a grill-like filter at the base. I must confess that I learned about how important it is to clean that filter just about two years ago. I added this activity to my calendar so I will never forget it again.

    It depends on how often you need to clean it. The user manual of your fridge will recommend a maintenance routine. We clean our fridge’s filter every 6 months.

  15. Have a spot for foods that need to be eaten first

    Having a shelf in your fridge just for food that needs to be eaten ASAP is a great way to avoid food waste. You can label it or just let everybody know that that’s where the food we need to eat NOW is being stored.

I hope you enjoyed my tips and process. Let me know in the comments below if you tried it and how it went. Have any of your own tips? Share them with me too!

Claudia