Organize Using Simple Vintage Glass Refrigerator Dishes
Rescuing lidless vintage glass refrigerator dishes is not only a great way to “reduce and reuse”, it’s a beautiful and simple way to organize your home.
Storage for Anything
I love organizing, but I’m not necessarily good at it. I think a lot of people must be like me, because it’s reflected in American stores everywhere I go. Lots of different organization products and systems abound. There are some great ideas out there. But many of them are expensive and most of them are made out of plastic. That’s never really appealed much to me. Enter: vintage glass refrigerator dishes.
I’m not sure when the idea struck me, but one day at an antique mall I found a pretty, clear glass dish. It was from an earlier pre-plastic obsessed era when glass was king. That’s just how they stored food in the fridge. The dish I found was without its lid. This might seem like a disadvantage, but to me it had a whole new purpose. I could use it for anything.
And that’s what I did! Taking it home, I filled it with my measuring spoons and cups. It was perfect and I was perfectly thrilled with my find.
There are many benefits to using vintage glass refrigerator dishes, but there are a few disadvantages too.
Here are the reasons I think you should opt for adopting these lovely lidless glass refrigerator dishes:
These things are sturdy and long-lasting, being made of heavy-duty glass. Seriously, they don’t make glass that thick anymore!
They come in different sizes, but most of them are pretty standard. This means you can fit them together in a drawer pretty or cabinet pretty well.
They are unique and beautiful! So many brands over the early years of refrigerator dishes made their own styles and colors. From Jadeite to plain clear to uranium glass and different mold patterns. There’s so much to choose from out there.
The hunt is such fun! I think looking around antique malls and shops for lidless refrigerator dishes is half the joy. And when you discover one, it’s so satisfying knowing you are going to give it a new life.
Reusing these dishes is the ultimate form of “reducing and reusing”. It’s sustaining your local economy and not adding any new excessive greenhouse gasses in its production, because it’s already been here, maybe longer than you!
They are dishwasher and microwave safe if you happen to want to heat food up in them. I don’t know if I’d recommend that with the uranium ones though….
You can still use them to store food! Just use a different cover for them. There are quite a few reusable options out there!
The negative aspects of these dishes are just a few.
They are heavy. Remember that heavy-duty glass? Yeah, so putting too many on a weak shelf wouldn’t be a good idea.
You can’t stack them. Well, I guess you can try, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
They are limited in size. I have come across larger square glass baking dishes, but those just become heavier and more unwieldy.
Depending on the antiques vendor, they can be expensive. Sometimes I’ve found them for under $10. Sometimes they go for way more. Be smart about purchasing them. You shouldn’t be paying $20 or more for a lidless refrigerator dish. It doesn’t have a lid for goodness sakes.
They are a limited, finite resource. No one is making these anymore. At least not of this quality. It’s inevitable dishes will get broken over time. This means the price for them will probably go up as the years go by and less and less of them are found in the market. So take good care of them!
My friend Amy at Mid-Atlantic Homestead has the great idea of using sewing machine drawers to organize her seed packets, which you can read about on her blog. I thought I’d see if one of my wider refrigerator dishes would work for that purpose. And it does! It’s not big enough to organize all of them, but it holds some of them. I guess I’d need a lot more dishes for organizing.
Other ideas for storing:
There are lots of other ideas for ways you can use your lidless refrigerator dishes:
candy (just like granny, but more of it and much more accessible, so that’s better, right?)
jewelry like watches or bracelets
lipstick (or chapstick) collections
hair ties and/or brushes and combs
assorted office supplies (Do you own lots of pens and pencils like me? No? Cool. Cool.)
keep your junk drawer less junky (it can at least keep the batteries or rubber bands in one place)
take-out packets like soy sauce and ketchup (remember the dreaded ketchup packet shortage?!)
sponges at the kitchen sink
A couple more creative ideas:
turn it into a little fairy garden with live moss and pebbles
put in a layer of sand and nestle in some tea lights for some atmospheric lighting
Things not to do OR what I’d imploringly suggest not to do
Once you have your vintage glass, to keep it in tip top shape, it’s best to treat it with care. Maybe I’m more paranoid than some. Or that I feel the age of an object more strongly than others. The historian in me dies a little when a piece of glass that has stood the test of time for 80+ years ends its life at my (or my child’s) hands.
Like I’ve mentioned before, these resources are finite. There’s no one going back in time and making these pieces again. Even if they were mass produced, these glass pieces are still works of craftsmanship and history that deserve some measure of respect. They have value, and it’s fantastic that we can show them that respect and value by putting them to work again in our homes.
Some things I suggest not to do with your vintage glass:
Spray paint it or paint it permanently in any way. We have modern glass you can do that to that no one cares about.
Put your glass through extreme temperature fluctuations. Even old, thick glass won’t be happy about that. It will shatter.
Clean your glass haphazardly or treat it like any other modern piece. This glass is old. Yep, it’s thick and sturdy. It can go through the dishwasher! But if you find a piece that’s particularly grimy, I’d suggest handwashing it first to see what you’re dealing with. Dirt and grime can be hiding cracks that the heat of a dishwasher might make more vulnerable. If the grime is particularly bad, you can try using a paste of baking soda and water and a cloth to scrub it. If it’s a sticky residue, try using lemon essential oil and a soft cloth. You can go here for even more vintage and antique glass cleaning techniques.
Well, that’s it. There are so many great advantages to using those orphaned, lidless vintage glass refrigerator dishes. I love them so much! Anytime I come across a new one for just the right price, I can’t help but adopt it to help me better organize my home even more.
Happy hunting and organizing! I hope you discover some really cute dishes. I know they’ll add that special, unique sparkle that only vintage glass can bring.