With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is a terrific time to clean out your refrigerator and make room for leftovers!

Refrigerators hold our food. Naturally, they need to be clean to avoid germs and keep our loved ones safe. While cleaning, you might also be surprised to find items that have been long forgotten and some that are past their expiration dates.


Start with a pan of warm water and dish soap, or disinfecting cloths, and get to work. Keep a trash barrel handy to toss out old items, moldy foods, and other things you no longer use. Be sure to check dates on all your food; if in doubt, throw it out!

Once it’s clean, remember to always wipe up spills immediately.

Stock like a pro

Once your fridge is clean, restock it right! When putting things back in your fridge, be sure to follow these simple rules to keep your food fresh and your family free from hazards like Listeria, Salmonella, and other germs. Here’s some great information on how to stock your refrigerator:

  • Milk and dairy products: Place these items on the bottom shelf – it’s the coldest part of your refrigerator. Avoid the temptation to use the shelves on the door. While it’s easier to grab the milk here, it’s also the worst place for it. Every time the fridge is opened, the door is the first part of the fridge to be exposed to the warmer air.
  • Meats, poultry, and seafood: Much like dairy products, these should always be stored on the bottom shelf. It’s a good idea to place them in a in a pan or tray to contain any liquids and keep your other food safe.
  • Eggs: Keep them in their original container and avoid using the egg tray that comes with the refrigerator. This protects them from absorbing other food odors, and also has the use-by date so you don’t eat old eggs.
  • Fruits and veggies: Store produce in the refrigerator’s bins. Your produce will last a bit longer as these are specifically designed to control humidity.

Freezing isn't forever!

Most foods can only tolerate a few weeks or months in a freezer and nothing will last longer than a year. Unfortunately, this means those expired frozen vegetables and that unused bag of shrimp from your 4th of July party in 2016 should be discarded. When you’re thawing frozen food, always be sure to do so in the fridge and not on the counter, and use a container so nothing leaks as it thaws.

Check out these basic guidelines for safe storage times for a variety of fresh and frozen foods:

Remember, if something doesn’t look or smell right, don’t chance it. Now that your refrigerator has been cleaned and decluttered, you’re ready for all those Thanksgiving leftovers!

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.