How to Organize a Side by Side Refrigerator the Right Way

An organized fridge can help make the most of your favorite ingredients, maximize space use, and save time. But organizing a side-by-side refrigerator can be a real challenge. The layout of a side-by-side refrigerator presents some unique challenges for those without much experience or creativity in their organization methods.

Learn how to organize side by side refrigerator for maximum efficiency and convenience with these helpful tips in this guide. We'll cover where to store certain items, organization tools, and accessories to consider, and how you can set the stage for continued fridge organization.

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Related: 21 Smart Ways to Organize Water Bottles for a Tidy Kitchen

Side-by-Side Refrigerator Challenges

Side-by-side refrigerators are more challenging to organize than other refrigerators for several reasons.

One of the primary challenges is that a side-by-side design typically allows for less storage space than other types of refrigerators. Because of this, it is essential to make the most out of your available space.

The size and shape of each shelf within a side-by-side refrigerator are also different from other refrigerators, making it difficult to fit large items such as heads of lettuce or roasts. It can also be challenging to keep things separated or grouped together efficiently due to the narrow shelves. The tight spacing between shelves can also mean that items are more likely to get lost or spilled, causing messes and disorganization.

Organizing a side-by-side refrigerator requires extra thought and planning for everything inside it to stay neat and organized. Organizing a side-by-side refrigerator can still be an easy task if done correctly with careful attention to which foods should go where within the fridge and using accessories like bins and trays.

Related: 7 Steps to Tidy a Messy Kitchen

Steps for Organizing Your Side-By-Side Fridge

organized side by side fridge

If you have finally had enough of the spills and clutter and are ready for a well-organized refrigerator, this guide provides the exact steps. Have you admired photos of perfectly organized refrigerators with foods in matching containers? Your refrigerator can look that, too. 

Empty Your Fridge

The first step in this process may seem like a lot of work, but it is important. If you follow all the steps and maintain your fridge, you won't have to do this often.

Starting with the top shelf, remove food items. Check each food item's shelf life and expiration date, and throw away anything that has expired. 

If you have multiple bottles or packages of the same food item, marry them together to reduce packaging. Having two bottles of soy sauce or two cartons of eggs takes up lots of space and clutters your fridge.

Check each container with leftovers to make sure they haven't spoiled. Throw out anything you will not use.  

Wipe down everything that is remaining and sort them into categories of similar items:

  • Condiments
  • Raw Meat
  • Produce
  • Leftovers
  • Deli Meat

Decluttering your refrigerator is an essential step in keeping it organized and clean. Too much clutter causes confusion, making finding items quickly and easily harder. A disorganized fridge increases the risk of food waste due to forgotten items that have expired.

Clean and Sanitize Your Fridge

Now that your refrigerator is empty, it’s time to give it a good cleaning. Start by using a mild detergent (like Dawn) and warm water. Use a damp cloth or sponge on the shelves and walls of your refrigerator. 

If your fridge has adjustable shelves, remove them and clean them in your sink. If you notice areas with tough grime, use a magic eraser to get them clean. Once you have wiped down all surfaces, let them air dry and gently dry with a couple of paper towels.

Next, clean the outside of the refrigerator. This includes sanitizing handles and cleaning the dust from the refrigerator vents. When the vents are clean, the refrigerator operates at the ideal temperature. 

If you have stainless steel finish, get a streak-free shine by buffing your fridge with a few drops of baby oil on a microfiber cloth. 

Related: How to Organize Pots and Pans in a Small Kitchen

Plan Your Layout

Now that you are working with a clean slate, an empty refrigerator, plan how you will put your items back in the fridge. This planning stage is essential because this is where you visualize how you want your fridge to look. This step will help keep the items organized and easily accessible when needed.

To start planning your layout, consider the different types of food you routinely eat. This will help you decide where to store certain items in the refrigerator. Group like items together – dairy products in one drawer or shelf, produce in one, and beverages together.

Remove as much packaging as possible. Packaging is dirty and takes up unnecessary fridge space.

Drawers First

When restocking your refrigerator, it's best to do the drawers first. This will help you to avoid having too many items on the shelves, and it gives you a good idea of where extra items can be stored. 

Establish which crisper drawers will be for meats and which will be for produce. If you can adjust the humidity levels in each drawer, do it according to which items you place in them. Produce typically lasts longer in high humidity and meat is fine with low humidity. The deli drawer is perfect for lunch meats and cheese snacks.

The drawers have limited room, and not all items can fit in them, so it's best to plan these out first so that you're not left with a bunch of items that don't fit in the drawers. 

Top Shelf

The upper shelves in a side-by-side fridge are great for items that are not frequently used. The top shelf also tends to be one of the warmest areas in your fridge, so it is a great place for eggs and leftover containers. 

The back of the fridge is the coolest, so it is safe to store dairy on the top shelf if it is pushed to the back.

Middle Shelves

Middle shelves are ideal for food that you use every day. If your little ones like to access their own snacks, consider placing a small lazy susan on a middle shelf with apple sauce pouches, cheese sticks, and other healthy snacks. 

The middle shelf is also a great place for produce that needs ventilation, like berries.

Lower Shelves

Lower shelves can be used to defrost protein for tonight's dinner or bins of fruit. The lower shelves are also a great place to place anything with a risk of leaking or spilling. If a spill does happen, it won't leak all over your other food.

Side-By-Side Fridge Door

I reserve the side door for condiments, salad dressings, water bottles, and beverages. To conserve space and make the fridge look pretty and tidy, I pour all beverages (juice, milk, tea, creamer, etc) into square bottom carafes. They fit perfectly in the door compartment.

Time For the Freezer

For the freezer, you will essentially repeat each step. The strategy for the freezer side of your fridge is a bit different because you're dealing with varying types of food and container sizes. 

When restocking the freezer, consider grouping like items together in bins. This will prevent you from overbuying and help you to quickly identify when certain food items are about to expire. If extra space exists in the freezer, use airtight containers or bags to store smaller items like leftovers or single-serve meals.

If possible, remove items from the packaging to conserve space. 

Best Refrigerator Organizers

Although a fridge can be orderly without organizing products, adding a few products can make a big difference. Using acrylic bins can also contain spills and allow you to maintain your fridge much easier. Having an orderly fridge also makes it easy to know when it is time to restock on your favorite foods.

Here are our favorite fridge organizing products.

W&P Sustainable Fridge Bundle

For a sleek and modern look, W&P offers a bundle with fridge storage products like seal-tight bowls, stand-up bags, and snack bags. Their products are sustainable and crafted with high-quality materials that last for years. Many of the containers may be used for eating and also storing food, as they are microwavable and dishwasher safe.

mDesign Fridge and Freezer Products

From can dispensers to various sized fridge storage containers, to fridge labels, mDesign has every product you could need for a tidy and well organized fridge. The stackable organizers with bamboo lids are our favorite- they look great in a fridge.

Egg Containers

OXO, another one of our favorite brands, has a really cool egg container that we love. Removing eggs from the nasty grocery store carton and placing them in this beautiful, clean egg holder is so satisfying. And if an egg breaks, simply clean the container, not the whole fridge. The clear container also makes it easier to see when it is time to buy more eggs.

Caraway Glass Food Storage

If you prefer glass food storage containers, check out Caraway. Their food storage products are beautifully designed and look lovely on a fridge shelf. This set is ideal for anyone who stores lots of leftovers and hates the look of plastic containers. 

Organizing and decluttering your refrigerator may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it doesn't have to be. You will be so happy the next time you return from the grocery store and everything has a designated place in your fridge.  

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