There’s One Year-End Kitchen Cleaning Task You Don’t Want to Put Off Past Today

published Nov 10, 2020
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Credit: Minette Hand

Apartment Therapy’s Holiday Cure is your 20-day guide to being comfortable, calm, and in control of a clean space during what can sometimes be a chaotic season. Sign up now (it’s free!) to get at-home holiday ideas delivered straight to your inbox

I asked my followers on Instagram what holiday-prep tasks they always try (and maybe sometimes fail) to finish once the holidays get going. And by far the number-one answer was cleaning out the fridge and pantry. Even this year, when so many people have celebration plans in flux, they all were worried about making room in their kitchen for the turkeys, briskets, potatoes, beans and rice, and foil-covered casserole dishes.

So I knew we’d need to make room in this Holiday Cure for an early fridge clean-out. A chance to clear out old Tupperwares and expired condiments—without also balancing a casserole dish on your arm because there’s nowhere to set it down.

Taryn's Tips

Don’t wait until you’re balancing a casserole dish on your arm to make room in the fridge and freezer. Your future self will thank you.

Let’s get it going…

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Day 4: Clean out the fridge, freezer, and pantry.

The best, most thorough way to do this is to take everything out of your food storage zones, clean the space, then replace what you want to keep:

  1. Remove everything from one shelf or section at a time. Clear the zone and rest everything on the counter temporarily. Each section should take less than five minutes.
  2. Toss any expired items, including old leftovers, rotting produce, or any packaged food past its expiration date.
  3. Take note of what needs to be eaten soon and consider planning meals around these items.
  4. Wipe down the shelves, drawer, or bin. Take advantage of the empty area and give it a quick wipe-down with a mix of vinegar and water, or your favorite all-purpose cleaner.
  5. Replace the food you want to save. As you’re doing this, spot-check each package and give them a wipe-down as needed. The last thing you need is a sticky bottle to mess up your clean shelf.
  6. Move on to the next shelf or section. You can bounce between the fridge and freezer, or freezer and pantry, if you’re worried about leaving the door open too long.

If you need to do more of a hunt-and-peck clean-out today, that’s fine too! Even if you just manage to clear half a shelf, your future self will thank you.

More Ways to Participate in the Holiday Cure: