Is your refrigerator overcrowded? It might just not have enough room for the entire family.

  • A good rule of thumb is eight cubic feet of fresh-food storage for every two people, plus an added cubic foot for each additional person. For example, if your house holds five people (and therefore their food), your refrigerator should be seventeen cubic feet, because 8 + 8 + 1 = 17. We don’t doubt you can do your own math, but just for clarity’s sake–there’s an example.
  • For freezer storage, the recommendation is four cubic feet for every two people plus two extra cubic feet for each additional person. So for the same five-person household, your freezer should be at least ten cubic feet, because 4 + 4 + 2 =10.
  • Not enough space? Consider upgrading.

Yet with options that seemingly fit any lifestyle, how do you choose?

  • Know how much space is available in the kitchen for the refrigerator. Appliances come in a variety of dimensions and capacities (often between 10 cu. ft. to 25 cu. ft.), so it is important to make note of the height, depth and width available for the refrigerator before shopping.
  • Determine what is important and select a refrigeration platform accordingly. Consumers can decide what their family needs most in a refrigerator by determining space, accessibility and storage requirements. Refrigerators are designed in three broad configurations: Top Mount (freezer on top) is best for freezer accessibility; Bottom Mount (freezer on bottom) offers the most refrigerator space; and Side by Side, which provides the most overall space and organization.
  • Work within a reasonable price range. Today, many appliance brands have integrated some of the best, and in some cases, even luxurious features into entire product lines. No matter the budget, it has never been more affordable to have a premium look and top-of-the-line amenities such as water filtration and icemakers.
  • Select a refrigerator that maximizes its space inside and out. Features such as gallon door bins, base grille filtration and compact ice dispensers maximize space without leaving out beneficial refrigeration elements. Counter-depth refrigerators that align with kitchen counters give that built-in look.

Now that you’ve selected the right fridge for you, how do you keep it clean and organized?

  • When in doubt, throw it out. Start by clearing the refrigerator and putting contents on the counter.
  • No idea how long that mustard has been in the fridge? Get rid of it. Use the three “E” rules as your guidelines–if it’s expired, empty, or makes you say “ew,” toss it.
  • Start scrubbing. Remove any drawers or bins and wash in the kitchen sink with dishwashing liquid. Wash the inside of the refrigerator with a scrub or dishcloth–don’t forget to wash the compartments on the door.
  • Location, location, location. Group similar items together, such as proteins or dairy, and begin returning items to the refrigerator. Keep proteins towards the bottom of the refrigerator, since this is the coldest part of the appliance. Condiments and dressings are perfect for the door, as these items can tolerate the temperature change. Have a deli drawer? This drawer controls temperature and humidity, so use it for deli meats and cheese.

Happy cooling!