The Crucial Cleaning Task You Should Do Before You Grocery Shop

The inside of your fridge is an "out of sight, out of mind" space in your home. However, unlike lots of home storage spaces, the fridge routinely gets used — and should routinely get cleaned, too. By syncing up fridge (and freezer) cleaning with grocery shopping trips, you'll remember to clean it regularly, making the process easier.

If you're going grocery shopping, you have maximum empty fridge space. This makes it much easier to clean, as well as inventory what you have. For example, sometimes you have something on your grocery list, only to later discover that the exact same thing was hiding in the back of your fridge. Other times, you find out your milk has expired after you went to the store, and have to make a second trip. A clean-and-check before you hit the store will help you avoid unnecessary purchases and extra grocery runs.

Even if you know exactly what's in there, you'll still get a better deep clean done when your fridge is emptiest. Scrub down the shelves, quickly handwash the bins and shelves, and clean up drips and spills from condiments. (Just keep in mind that glass shelves can break if you wash them in warm water while they're cold.) Now, you can put your groceries away in a sparkling-like-new space. 

Tips for Successful Fridge Cleaning

Cleaning the fridge can feel overwhelming, but this method helps make the task less daunting. With this regular attention, each cleaning will be quick and easy instead of a massive undertaking. However, a few tips can help make things even faster and easier. 

Start by getting rid of expired or unwanted items to free up more space. Then, get out the cleaning supplies: vinegar diluted with hot water and a sponge or rag is generally all you'll need. Make sure to avoid any cleaning products that aren't food-safe.

If it's already mostly empty, empty out the fridge completely so you can clean faster. As you pick up items like condiments, wipe any drips or stickiness from the outside. While cleaning the fridge itself, work from top to bottom, since debris will fall as you go.

The more often you use this method, the easier it'll get, as you'll develop fridge-cleaning habits that work for you. If you live with other people, you even have the option of sending one person to the store while someone else does the cleanup. While some households may find fridge cleaning to be a two-person job, those with small kitchens will fare better if just one person tackles the fridge at a time.

Organizing Your Clean and Shiny Fridge

Cleaning the surfaces of the fridge is important. However, while you're at it, take this opportunity to get the fridge nicely organized, too. Fridge organization is highly personal; some swear by plastic or glass bins to organize contents, while others designate "zones" for certain items. You may need to experiment to find what works for you, and don't forget to include those you live with in the organizing process.

Once you've got a system, though, use this pre-grocery shopping time to maintain it. Check each designated space to make sure there's nothing there that doesn't belong. Make notes of what's nearly empty, get rid of leaky containers, and toss expired takeout. You can also reorganize as you go. For example, maybe you often use a condiment stashed in the back of the fridge. Now's your chance to make it more accessible. 

Cleaning and organizing the fridge can feel like a lot of work. However, if you do it routinely, it'll become fast, satisfying — dare we say, even fun?