January 6, 2015

The right way to store food in a refrigerator

By Sears PartsDirect staff
The right way to store food in a refrigerator.
The right way to store food in a refrigerator.

We all know it’s best to refrigerate food to slow bacteria growth, but many people don’t know where to store different foods in the refrigerator to keep them at their best. 

The temperature varies in your refrigerator, with the coldest temperature at the bottom.

To ensure refrigerated food stays fresh as long as possible, follow these guidelines.

What goes where in the refrigerator

  • Place condiments like salad dressing and mustard in the door shelves, the warmest area of the refrigerator. These items generally keep a long time—either because they’re acidic or contain preservatives— and don’t require the coldest temperature.

  • Beverages, leftovers and ready-to-eat products like yogurt should go on the upper shelves.  

  • Place raw food and meats in the lowest—and coldest—part of the refrigerator, preferably in a meat drawer or bin. Storing them at the bottom also prevents contamination because fluids from raw food won’t leak onto ready-to-eat food.

  • Most refrigerators have crisper drawers designed specifically for fruit and vegetables. Vegetables store best in higher humidity, while fruits last longer at lower humidity.

How long you should store foods in the fridge

These guidelines give you an idea how long you can safely store different types of food in the refrigerator—and when something is past its prime and ready for the trash can.

Dairy and egg

Cheese, hard: 2 to 3 weeks

Cheese, soft: 1 to 2 weeks

Eggs, raw: 3 to 4 weeks

Eggs, hard boiled: 1 week

Milk, cow: 5 to 7 days after Sell By date

Milk, nut or soy, sold unrefrigerated: 7 to 10 days after opened


Storage times apply to red meat, poultry and fish.

Raw: 1 to 2 days

Cooked: 3 to 4 days


Storage times are for raw, unsliced produce.

Tomatoes: Trick question! They should be stored at room temperature for best flavor.

Beans, snap: 3 to 5 days

Broccoli: 3 to 5 days

Cauliflower: 1 week

Cucumbers: 1 week

Sweet peppers: 1 to 2 weeks

Corn on the cob: 1 to 3 days

Leafy greens (lettuce, arugula, collard): 3-7 days

Mushrooms: 4 to 7 days

Root crops (carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, potatoes): 2-3 months if properly stored


Storage times are for ripe, unsliced fruit.

Apples: 1 to 2 months in a plastic bag

Blackberries and raspberries: 2 to 3 days

Blueberries: 1 to 2 weeks

Cherries: 4 to 10 days

Melons: 2 to 3 days

Oranges, limes and lemons: 3 to 4 weeks

Peaches: 3 to 5 days

More refrigerator tips

Where you place food in your refrigerator is important, but here are few other things to keep in mind:

  • Allow leftovers to cool before refrigerating them so they don’t transfer heat to the inside of the refrigerator. If storing a lot of leftovers, divide them into smaller containers, to allow the food to cool more quickly.

  • Prevent odors from circulating in the refrigerator by wrapping your leftovers well.

  • Don’t over-stock the refrigerator. Allow room for air to circulate through the refrigerator cabinet and don’t block air vents.

  • Mark your leftovers with the date you placed them in the refrigerator and throw them out after 10 to 14 days.

  • Follow a first-in/first-out rule, placing newer items behind older ones.

Symptoms common to all refrigerators

Choose a symptom to see related refrigerator repairs.

Main causes: leaky door gasket, defrost system failure, evaporator fan not running, dirty condenser coils, condenser fan not running
Main causes: blocked air vents, compressor problems, condenser or evaporator fan not working, control system failure, sensor problems
Main causes: water valve leaking, frozen or broken defrost drain tube, overflowing drain pan, cracked water system tubing, leaking door seal
Things to do: clean condenser coils, replace the water filter, clean the interior, adjust doors to prevent air leaks, clean the drain pan
Main causes: damaged door seal, faulty defrost sensor or bi-metal thermostat, broken defrost heater, bad defrost timer or control board
Main causes: blocked vents, defrost system problems, evaporator fan failure, dirty condenser coils, bad sensors, condenser fan not working
Main causes: jammed ice cubes, broken ice maker assembly, dirty water filter, kinked water line, bad water valve, freezer not cold enough
Main causes: control board or cold control failure, broken compressor start relay, compressor motor failure, defrost timer problems

Repair guides common to all refrigerators

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your refrigerator.

How to replace a refrigerator temperature control board

If the temperature in your refrigerator doesn't match the temperature you set, the problem could be the temperature control board—a service technician can give you a definite diagnosis. If the board is at fault, follow these steps to replace it yourself.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a refrigerator water valve

Replace the water valve that feeds water to the ice maker and water dispenser if it no longer controls the flow of water.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a refrigerator door gasket

The door gasket seals the gap around the door to keep the cold air in and the warm air out. It’s easy to replace a worn or torn gasket.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all refrigerators

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your refrigerator.

August 2, 2016

Troubleshooting a refrigerator not cooling video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn what to check if the inside of your fridge is wayyyy too warm.

January 8, 2015

New refrigerator noises

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Find out about the new refrigerator sounds you might not be aware of.

January 6, 2015

How a refrigerator works

By Sears PartsDirect staff

See how the different components in your refrigerator work together to cool your food.