The Cleaning Nudge You Need: Take 20 Minutes and Make Today Fridge Day!

published Aug 27, 2017
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(Image credit: Andrey Popov)

I’ve never been skydiving or gotten a tattoo, but I like to imagine the rush that keeps people coming back for more is a lot like the feeling I get when I open my refrigerator door to find a perfectly pristine display worthy of being photographed for “I Eat Well and Have My Life Together” magazine. Because, truthfully, I feel like a clean and well-organized refrigerator is the most important key to happiness.

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

When the fridge is tidy, I can see all the healthy food that I bought in that uncharacteristic moment of willpower at the grocery store. And I eat it. Which is better for my body, and also for my wallet, than eating out at every meal because “there’s nothing to eat at home,” which might as well be the catchphrase that comes stocked when you buy the pull-string toy version of me. And also, it just feels good—like a caftan that makes you think you’re Diana Vreeland—to be the type of person who has a camera-ready fridge. “Oh my gosh, you discovered mustard that’s been expired for two years?,” you’ll say to your friends over brunch with counterfeit disbelief.

So consider this the nudge you need to actually do it. It should only take 20 minutes; or maybe more, or maybe less. If your fridge contains the bare minimum—some takeout containers and a bottle of ketchup—you could be done in 5 minutes. If you’re a regular cook, you might need the full 20 and then some. All that matters is that you check this task off your list tonight by the time you and your caftan hit your 800-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.

How to Clean & Organize Your Fridge

The process is simple: Go systematically through the inside of your refrigerator clearing and cleaning. I find it helps to go shelf by shelf, taking everything off one shelf at a time and resting it on the counter for a minute.

Get rid of anything that’s very old or expired, and wipe down the shelf before replacing only the items that are still fresh and usable. As you’re placing items back into the fridge, it helps to keep a cloth in your hand and peek at the bottom of each jar or container—some of them might be in need of a quick wipe-down.

Repeat with each shelf or section, and you’ll have a spotless refrigerator to fuel your best life.

(If you’re not sure about the shelf life of your condiments, this post can help.)

A final word of encouragement: Be the fridge you wish to see in the world.