Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

As we head into a summer of social distancing and home cooking, many of us are stuffing our fridges to the max. From chilling cold drinks to keeping vegetables fresh, our fridges are critical to helping us live well and stay relaxed at home.

Though consistent fridge temperature is important to keeping food safe, fridge organisation also important. An overstuffed, messy fridge is a recipe for spoilage, food waste, and general disaster. Luckily, with some basic knowledge and the proper tools, keeping your fridge neat and well-organised doesn’t need to be overwhelming.

1. Empty your fridge for inventory and cleaning

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: It's recommended to deep clean your fridge once a month. Credit: Getty Images / Andrey PopovIt's recommended to deep clean your fridge once a month. Credit: Getty Images / Andrey Popov

Once everything is out of your fridge, it's a lot easier to see what's worth keeping and what's just taking up space. Check labels to make sure nothing has expired yet. If you’re worried about perishable items sitting out while you clean, you can temporarily store them in a cooler.

Use sanitising wipes to clean out any drips or residue on the shelves and walls. Take out the bottom drawers and soak them in soapy, hot water—and take advantage of their absence to clean the walls and floor where they slot in. Make sure the drawers are dry before placing them back in the fridge.

2. Choose what goes on the door—and what doesn't

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Most condiments are safe to be stored on the fridge door. Credit: Getty Images / RustycanuckMost condiments are safe to be stored on the fridge door. Credit: Getty Images / Rustycanuck

You might be tempted to put milk and eggs on the fridge door for easy access. Unfortunately, opening and closing the door cause fluctuations in temperature for anything stored there. We'd recommend storing milk, eggs, and other perishables in the back of the fridge, where temperatures are the coolest and most consistent.

Most condiments and sauces are high in salt and vinegar, so they wouldn’t be affected by slight changes in temperature—they’re good to stay on the fridge door. The same goes for jarred pickle and pasteurised orange juice. Freshly-squeezed juices should be stored to the back of the fridge alongside the milk.

3. Store leftover food and ready-to-eat deli meats on the upper shelves

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Putting leftover food on the upper shelves can remind you to eat them. Credit: Getty Images / MonkeyBusinessImagesPutting leftover food on the upper shelves can remind you to eat them. Credit: Getty Images / MonkeyBusinessImages

Because of cooked food's short lifespan, you’ll want easy access to these products. Placing them where they’re visible also helps you remember that they’re there and should be first on your “to eat” list, reducing food waste. Different brands, models, and types of refrigerators do behave differently from one another. If you want to be sure which shelf is the coldest in a specific fridge, we provide that information for every refrigerator we review. The manual for your machine may also provide helpful tips for the kind of storage that works best for that specific.

4. Make your groceries more accessible

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Use an organising set to create more storage zones in your fridge. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey GoldwasserUse an organising set to create more storage zones in your fridge. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

To efficiently utilise your middle shelves, you may want to use a lazy Susan turntable to help you access anything that’s hidden in the back corners of the fridge. The middle shelves are usually good for condiments, cheese, and other dairy products. Fridge baskets and bins are also useful tools to keep your groceries neat and orderly. We used this top-rated fridge organising set in one of our crowded office fridges and were thrilled with the results.

5. Try to place vegetables above meat and seafood to prevent cross-contamination

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Separating vegetables and meat can prevent cross-contamination. Credit: Reviewed / AnikonaSeparating vegetables and meat can prevent cross-contamination. Credit: Reviewed / Anikona

Meat products and seafood tend to drip if not packaged properly. You can store vegetables and meat side by side in the bottom bins, or keep meat in a designated drawer away from the crisper. If you are short on bins, you can use the wide drawers from the organiser set to maximise space.

6. Use fridge mats to absorb excess liquid

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: We lined the bottom of the fridge bins with kitchen towel—you can also use fridge mats. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey GoldwasserWe lined the bottom of the fridge bins with kitchen towel—you can also use fridge mats. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Before you put items in the bottom bins, line them with paper towels or washable fridge mats. This prevents drips from getting stuck on the shelves, which makes future cleaning easier. Cutting them to fit also helps you customise your fridge space. If you’re using pieces of paper towel, make sure to replace them every two weeks.

7. Use a clear dispenser for storing cans

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Drink storage bins can save space. Credit: Getty Images / PanpoteDrink storage bins can save space. Credit: Getty Images / Panpote

If you're big on beer, cool drinks, and sparkling water, having a way to keep your cans cold without taking up an entire shelf is essential. This highly rated drink dispenser can hold up to 9 cans. 

8. Divide the space and label your food

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Labelling your food with expiration dates can help reduce food waste. Credit: Getty Images / joebelangerLabelling your food with expiration dates can help reduce food waste. Credit: Getty Images / joebelanger

Categorise your fridge items in different sections so you won’t mix them up, especially in shared living spaces. Maintaining a habit of labelling your food with an expiration date can help you reduce food waste and promote healthy eating. You may want to try this chalkboard labelling kit that turns chores into a fun-filled bonding activity that families (or flatmates) can do together.

9. Keep your fridge odour-free

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: An ozone generator can work wonders at reducing odours. Credit: Getty / AndreyPopovAn ozone generator can work wonders at reducing odours. Credit: Getty / AndreyPopov

A sour smell is usually the first indicator that something in your fridge has gone south of edible. To tackle this problem, try a mini ozone generator that helps slow food spoilage and reduce odours in your fridge.

A simpler alternative? Place an opened container of bicarbonate of soda in the back of your fridge. Bicarbonate of soda, a weak base which reacts with both acids and bases, absorbs the floating smelly particles that may otherwise land on your perfectly fresh food and lead to spoilage. Note that bicarbonate of soda’s shelf life is about three months, so you do need to replace it every once in a while. You can label it with an approximate expiration date as a reminder. If this takes too much space, try this compact charcoal filter that allows you to place anywhere.

10. Once it's organised, leave it alone

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Avoid reorganising your fridge too often. Credit: Getty Images / Group4 StudioAvoid reorganising your fridge too often. Credit: Getty Images / Group4 Studio

Finally, it’s important to note that once your fridge is organised to your specifications, it should stay that way. Sure, we’ve all been guilty at some point or another of rearranging our refrigerator to fit a new item. But moving food from one part of the fridge to another exposes it to more temperature fluctuations, which decreases its quality while increasing the speed at which it spoils. If you’re smart about where you store your food, you can minimise this movement.

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.