Refrigerators may just be the unsung heroes of the kitchen. Yes, microwaves are convenient for quick warming and cooking jobs. Ovens are nearly indispensable for baking. And stovetops are a cook’s best friend – making a roux, anyone? But the refrigerator does the support work for these other activities, allowing us to have fresh, safe food for baking and cooking.
So, in honor of #CleanOutYourRefrigeratorDay, we want to bring you some tips for your mobile home refrigerator. Plus, we’re handing out tips to help you #BeRecycled, too.
Start with the clean-out
Let’s start with cleaning out your mobile home refrigerator. First off, pull out all the old food and throw it in the trash. Check your condiments – if something’s too old or you’ll never use it again, trash it. Wipe down all surfaces with a warm, soapy water and dry with a clean towel.
Next, pull out any drawers and empty the contents (stray salad leaves or the odd apple stem). If it’s easier for you, you can put the drawers in the sink to wash them out.
When the dust settles
Once your refrigerator has received its well-deserved cleaning, it’s time to get it filled back up. If you’ve thrown out old food, the extra space may already give it a more tidy look.
Step #1. Optimize your shelf placement
Before you start setting things on the shelves, take a minute to optimize your shelf placement. Did you know you can change the level of your shelves in some refrigerators? If you find you never have enough space for tall items (like milk jugs and 2-liter sodas), try to give yourself more space by shifting a shelf or shelves.
Step #2. Choose organization containers
To help you keep things organized, you can always purchase some containers for organizing. Of course, choose the containers that work for your refrigerator and its contents. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- You could use a large square plastic storage container (with the lid off) for dairy products. Find one that could accommodate up to four plastic tubs of yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc.
- And you could use rectangular open-top containers with built-in handles for bottled items like lemon juice, soy sauce, ketchup, and mustard.
Step #3. Label locations & organization containers
Now, if you want to keep a place for everything and everything in its place (or as close to that scenario as possible), labels may be a good option. This could be especially helpful if your family will also be gettings things in and out of the refrigerator.
One way to to do this is to tear off a 1-2 inch piece of masking tape and fold one end over on itself. This creates a pull tab to help remove the label later. Now, using a permanent marker, write the desired food category (i.e. “Dairy Products” or “Leftovers”). Finally, stick it on the desired shelf – preferably on the front plastic edge.
Step #4. Date leftovers and opened items
In addition to labeling locations, you can also label food containers. If you’re labeling a reusable container, use the tape labeling method described above. Simply write the date instead of the food category. When you’re labeling a disposable container, just grab a permanent marker and write the date right on the container. This way, you know when food is old and needs to be cleared out.
Step #5. Put items in their designated locations
Also, it should go without saying that whenever possible you should put items in the proper locations. Why label an area “dairy products,” but then cram the yogurt in a different spot because you’re feeling rushed? In short, take the time to uphold your system.
Bonus Tip: Use clear plastic wrap and clear storage containers when possible
Using clear plastic wrap and clear storage containers helps you see what’s where in your fridge. Handy when you’re searching hungrily for leftovers! Of course, you can go with whatever storage containers you prefer, but if you like to keep things uniform, you may want to purchase some clear plastic containers that will stack well.
Get ready to #BeRecycled
Now that you’ve gotten the refrigerator under control, let’s move on to our recycling tips. Let’s face it, sometimes it just feels easier to throw things in the trash. Yet, you want or need to recycle. One thing that helps is to make your recycling process easy for yourself so you stick with it. Read on for our tips.
- For glass jars that need labels removed, let them soak before removing.
- Keep a wire scrubber handy by your sink for getting labels off after soaking. Let the jars soak beforehand.
- Make sure you have adequate space for jars and containers to air dry.
- Keep your recycling bin handy. This way you won’t have to travel far to put things in the bin.
- Stay on top of the work. Clean jars and containers as you empty them (or shortly thereafter). In short, don’t let the clean-out work pile up for days. Note: the intractable empty peanut butter jar, however, may benefit from sitting for a while full of water to soften up the sticky mess. Other jars may as well – just don’t let too many pile up for too long.
- If you have to drop off your recycling (instead of having it picked up), you may find it useful to schedule a time and day to do it. This way, you won’t let it pile up for too long taking up space and getting on your nerves.
Get the family involved
Once you get your refrigerator in tip-top shape, give family members an explanation of the organization system. Ask for their help in keeping things in place. Plus, make it a weekly chore to clean out old food so the system doesn’t get “overloaded.” Finally, if the refrigerator is going to be just one element of a whole-kitchen reconstruction effort, check out our kitchen remodeling ideas here.