It’s lurking, right there in the kitchen. Every time you open the door, you cringe a little and then slam the door shut, pretending you don’t see the ancient condiments, the sticky shelves, and the food in cheap plastic containers that should have been thrown out right away but that voice in your head (she sounds suspiciously like Grandma) carped, “Wasting food is a sin. Save it and turn it into a nice soup this week.” So of course you listened to the carpy Grandma voice and now you have rotting food sitting in your fridge and no soup in sight.

No? Just me?

I don’t believe it. My fridge is a mess and so is yours. But not for long, my friends. We’re going to clean that thing right out and we’re doing it now! Well, I’m doing it now and taking pictures to prove it. You can do what you want; you’re a full-grown adult.

But full-grown adults always feel better with clean fridges, I feel. A clean kitchen doesn’t stress out out each time we walk into it. When we can find what we need to make healthy meals, the whole experience is simple and much more enjoyable. Join me!

clean the fridge

Step 1: Clean off the front of the fridge. My word, people! Why do we feel the need to pin everything to the front? I’m saving a few things: the friends we support in ministry, the cutie in Haiti who sends us adorable letters in return for tuition payments, and my hilarious magnets. Everything else goes.

Step 2: The condiments get a pass/fail grade. I went through a stir-fry stage a few months ago and thought I needed to buy fish sauce. I did not need to buy fish sauce. Because it’s sauce made out of fish. Ew. Also out: the pesto we didn’t eat (again) the runny, mostly empty bottle of brown mustard.

Step 3: Rotting meat and dairy is probably less than ideal. Out goes any meaty-animaly product from any date I don’t recognize.

Step 4: Leftovers that have actual possibility need to go to the freezer so they don’t become cesspools of botulism. I think that’s what happens to old leftovers, right?

Step 5: Show no mercy to the vegetable drawer. I know in theory a vegetable is healthy, but if you’re not going to eat it, you’re not going to eat it. Let it go, my friend. Let it go.

Step 6: Cull the miscellaneous. If we don’t have a specific, concrete reason to use it soon, we have no reason to keep it. Out, out, out! I nearly teared up at the thought of throwing out the almond meal and the flax meal. But my word, I simply have no idea how long they’ve been in there. Almost two years, at least.

Step 7: Swab the decks. Fill up your sink with hot, soapy water and scrub the shelves while they’re empty. Put back what food you are saving. Stand back, admire your work, and wonder why you need such a large fridge. Mental note: look for a smaller one when this one dies.

Doesn't the fridge look all mysterious and cool in black and white?
Doesn’t the fridge look all mysterious and cool in black and white?

Step 8: Do not allow children near the fridge for at least two days, to preserve that clean feeling.

And there we have it. Don’t we all feel better now? If you have the emotional strength, tackle the freezer. I don’t. Let me know how it goes.

Today’s question: tell me the truth, how long has it been since you cleaned the fridge? (I think I did this last summer.)

6 Comments on Decluttering for the Terribly Brave: Let’s Clean the Fridge

  1. Anonymous
    August 29, 2014 at 8:52 am (3 years ago)

    We cleaned ours at the beginning of the summer, it needs to be done again! We do have a small fridge, doesn’t seem to help!

  2. luanne
    August 29, 2014 at 10:20 am (3 years ago)

    I haven’t cleaned the fridge so be we moved in. But before you faint from the horror of that thought, remember that we moved in just a year ago. I do want to drool a little over your fridge. We have one of those ancient, traditional full door sise-by-side models that has absolutely no room at all! With or without leftovers, no room for anything. So while you are plotting how to get a smaller fridge, I am making plans to secretly fry mine so the landlord will give us a new, and preferably larger, one!

  3. luanne
    August 29, 2014 at 10:21 am (3 years ago)

    *since before* we moved in. I hate auto correct!! ๐Ÿ™

  4. Jessie Clemence
    August 31, 2014 at 5:47 pm (3 years ago)

    We bought that one from Lowes for a pittance. It was a returned-on-warranty, and I have to admit that I love it. My parents have a smaller freezer-on-the-bottom model, and that’s the kind I’d choose. They really are a dream!

  5. Jessie Clemence
    August 31, 2014 at 5:49 pm (3 years ago)

    Small fridges are a struggle, unless you’re willing to shop three times a week and buy the tiny things like thimbles of juice and snack packs of raisins. ๐Ÿ™‚

    August 31, 2014 at 6:41 pm (3 years ago)

    Is it me or do you seem to have a new pic on top every post? Our fridge is generally clean. However, there are some stains that get on there that seem to just linger – damn jelly! In terms of food, I am pretty good about using it or throwing it out. However, my wife who is normally very neat, is not great at that.