Here’s how to spring clean your fridge—and keep it looking perfect all year long.
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Confession time: My fridge and freezer look like something straight out of a Hoarder’s episode.

It’s not that I don’t care. Because I do. I cook all of the time and love the look of a clean, organized kitchen, but the reality is that I have no idea what’s really lurking inside of my fridge. And every time I open the door to my freezer, a wave of panic hits me as an avalanche of frozen veggie bags fall out.

Needless to say, my situation was causing me major stress and I needed to do something about it.

The good news? Apparently I’m not alone. Tracy Paye, owner of Miss Organized in San Diego and author of If Clutter Could Talk, the Stories It Would Tell, says that people usually come to her for organization tips when they’re stressed and overwhelmed.

I asked Tracy for her best tips on spring cleaning your fridge and freezer—here’s what she said.

Create Zones

First things first? Take everything out. Yes, everything. Even those old tupperware containers and half-used bottles of ketchup. “Then, sort ‘like’ with ‘like’. Put your condiments together, fruits and vegetables together, etc.” says Paye.

Out With the Old, in With the New

Once you have groups of like items together, start purging. Paye recommends throwing away all expired, old, or unwanted items, and paring down to just the necessities.

Give Everything a Wipe Down

Now that you’re working with a blank canvas, give the inside of your fridge a wipe down and clean up any spills with a disinfectant wipe. We love using Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar wipes because they’re safe for food contact surfaces.

As for the freezer? It’s a little trickier. Paye says, “I’d carefully take a knife and scrape off the caked-on ice and chip that off. Then, I’d wipe everything down.”

Buy the Right Containers

Paye swears by storing things in “zones”. For example, create a zone for fruits, one for vegetables, another one condiments, etc. She says, “I personally like to use plastic storage bins in the fridge to keep everything contained.” She recommends using Interbins ($12.94, Amazon) because they’re clear and can stand extra-cold temps.

She says, “It’s good to get [bins] with handles, because then you can reach in and pull everything out. Refrigerators tend to be deep, so it’s good to see everything in one shot. There’s no [more] moving the milk to get something else out from behind it.”

Make Your Kids a Snack Zone

Most parents have a fridge full of their kid’skids' snacks. The problem? The snacks usually aren’t easily accessible for said kids, so parents have to do the searching and digging every day. Paye explains that placing kid-friendly items into a designated ‘snack zone’ bin conditions kids to be more organized, and takes the pressure off parents for waiting on their kids.

She says, “I have a bin for my daughter with apple slices, yogurt, and her specific snacks. It took her a few months to get in the habit, but now she makes her own lunches, because she can see her things very easily.” To make healthy snacks even easier for little hands to grab, Paye says she cuts up fruit and veggies ahead of time and stores them in green bags to ensure freshness.

Restock Your Groceries Strategically

Transparent bins—and designated zones—are great because you can see all of your groceries at once. But you still have to work on not reintroducing clutter. Paye has a tip for this:  “I keep a dry-erase board on my fridge. Every time I run out of something, I write it down. Then, when it’s time to get my groceries, I know everything I need.” That way, she never buys an extra unwanted jug of orange juice.

As for me? I’ll be putting these tips to good use this weekend. After all, I don’t want my friends to call Hoarders on me.