‘Tis the season to purge, tackle those cluttered closets, and deep clean *everything* in sight. Follow my Spring into Clean series with Brit + Co through March and April for tips, hacks, and tricks. Happy (spring) cleaning, all!

Every time I scroll through my Instagram feed, I am amazed by all the beautifully curated kitchens and perfectly organized fridges. In my reality (and yours?), the refrigerator is anything but. Since it holds all our fruits, veggies, and leftovers, the appliance is bound to build up some grime, clutter, and countless jars of who knows what. Before you shove those year-old condiments toward the back, make time to give your fridge the spring cleaning it deserves. Hit the reset button and pitch the following seven items (or more!), and be sure to wipe shelves down before you put everything back.

1. Old Baking Soda: Baking soda left in the fridge for the purpose of deodorizing has a shelf life of three months. Once done, it can still be used to scour a sink or exfoliate your lips, but the deodorizing power is gone, gone, gone. So set a reminder on your phone and replace it every three months.

2. Jarred Sauces: Half-used jars of tomato sauce, salsa, tapenade, and pesto need to get the boot if they’ve been lingering for more than six months. Let’s all avoid that unpleasant experience of opening a fuzzy jar of mystery gunk, okay?

3. Tomatoes, Avocados, Potatoes, Onions, and Garlic: None of these live in the fridge. Ever. To preserve them, keep the tomatoes and avocado on the counter and the potatoes, onions, and garlic in a cool, dark place. When your tomatoes and avocados are ripened enough, you may refrigerate them for a day or so. Any longer and strange things start to happen (think: awkward textures).

4. Specialty Foods: We’ve all been there — a three-hour Pinterest binge inspired you to make Pad Thai and source the most authentic fish sauce and Thai chilies you could find. Next thing you know, you’ve got a small shelf in your fridge dedicated to all things Thai. Next month, your new culinary obsession becomes Indian and Thai food is left holding the bag (err, sitting in the fridge). Find those foods, get really honest about them, and ditch what you don’t use on the regular. If it is still good, offer it to a friend who you know will be thrilled to use it up.

5. Opened Wine, Soda, and Juice: Wine should never go in the fridge (meaning, you should drink *all* the wine). But in the event you just want a glass, remember that wine doesn’t keep well after even a few days in the fridge. If you intend to cook with it, sure, keep it there until you can use it up. Otherwise, dump it. Half-consumed juice and opened bottles of soda should also get tossed. Soda usually goes bad within a week and juice (without an expiration date) should be dumped after one month or so.

6. Old Condiments and Dressings: Find all of your old condiments and determine if they need to go (check the expiration date; do a taste or smell test — if you dare). Ditch anything old or expired and find ways to use up almost-empty condiments fast. You could add salad dressing ingredients to an almost empty jar of mustard. Or create marinades using the same principle. This goes for things like mayo, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, etc.

7. Old Pickled Stuff: You know those jars of pickles and olives with three olives suspended in brine sitting in the back of your fridge. They’re like something out of a haunted apothecary shop. So when will they ever appeal to you? Get rid of one-off pickled items by making a salad with them. A friend’s dad used to make a salad for us with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, and olives, and it was divine. You can then use the brine for chicken and finally get rid of those jars. Pickled items which are store-bought are good for 1-2 years, but if you’ve got a few left in the jar, use it up and move on.

Aside from purging the usual suspects like deli meats, old cheese, leftovers, and cleaning the crisper drawers, ridding your fridge of these items will no doubt give you the clean and serene fridge shelves you’ve been dreaming of. It takes under 30 minutes to do this and it makes your kitchen feel clean from the inside out. Good luck!

If you’re looking for more cleaning tips and tricks, tune in next week for a new video on my Spring into Clean series. And be sure to check out the Clean My Space Youtube and my recently published book, Clean My Space.

What cleaning tips do you hope Melissa Maker will share in her Spring into Clean series? Shoot us your purging, organizing, and tidying-up questions on Twitter!

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