Does your refrigerator smell bad? Here’s how to remove fridge odor and smells.
Working in the cleaning industry, we hear “Our fridge smells bad, what can I do to get rid of the smell?” all the time. It’s surprisingly a very common problem.
But, a bad smell from a fridge is not a reason to throw your fridge away and buy a new one! Yes, the smell can be disgusting, but there is a way around it. Trust me; I’ve been there. If you’re unfortunately there right now, I hope these solutions for getting rid of bad fridge odors will work great for you too.
How to Remove Fridge Odor
Step 1: Deep Clean Fridge
Hate cleaning but love a clean house? Pick up this printable Spring Cleaning Bundle and you'll be able to clean it all without feeling overwhelmed!
The easiest way to get rid of the awful stench from your fridge is by cleaning it.
In order to really clean your fridge, you’ll need a few cleaning tools such as dish scouring pads, clean dish towels (dry), a cleaning solution and others.
Begin by turning off the refrigerator by unplugging it from the power source. If some of your foodstuffs are likely to spoil while cleaning, place them in a cooler and add ice for proper preservation.
During the cleanout process, you will likely discover food remains turning into a science project. Rotten food is among the top sources of unpleasant fridge smells.
Remove everything inside and discard all foods items that are past the expiration date.
Next, clean the fridge itself.
It is easy to clean the fridge thoroughly using most homemade cleaning solutions. My favorite is a mixture of baking soda and warm water.
Put ½ cup of baking soda into the sink and fill it with warm water. Soak all the removable compartments of the fridge in it for a few minutes. Use a clean dish scouring pads to scrub the bins, shelves, and other parts. Rinse and set aside to dry.
Dip a clean cloth in the solution of baking soda and warm water. Wring it out and use it to wipe the fridge interiors and any compartment that couldn’t be removed.
If the rubber seal around your fridge lifts up from the edge, be sure to clean under them with the wet cloth as well, using a flathead screwdriver covered with the cloth if needed or for easier access under the seal.
Finally, clean the drip tray as it contains dirty water. Your fridge’s drip tray commonly appears under the refrigerator itself. Be careful pulling it out so you don’t pour dirty water on clean surfaces!
Step 2: Remove Fridge Odors that Remain after Cleaning It
Through my battle with the unappetizing refrigerator odors and smells, I came across a few household products which are effective odor busters. Here are some of them:
Fridge Odor Remover 1: Baking Soda
Baking soda balances the pH level around smelly items thus masking their odor.
All you need to do is spread the baking soda on a flat surface, such as a baking sheet, and place it in the refrigerator. Keep the fridge closed for at least 24 hours or until the smell disappears.
Use it now and then to counteract the odors from the substances inside the fridge.
Fridge Odor Remover 2: Vinegar
White vinegar is also another substance effective in neutralizing the awful fridge smell.
Mix vinegar with water 50/50 and use the solution to wipe down all the surfaces inside your fridge to make it smell fresh.
Then, place an open cup containing vinegar in the fridge and keep the door shut until the smell disappears.
Fridge Odor Remover 3: Oats or Coffee
If you have a bowl of oats nearby, you can place them in your awful smelling fridge. Within no time, the oats will absorb all the bad smell.
Coffee grounds too can serve the same purpose. Place the fresh coffee grounds on a bowl or two and place them in the refrigerator, or spread them and leave them open on a baking sheet. Leave the fridge door shut for a couple of hours or a day for the bad odor to disappear.
Fridge Odor Remover 4: Activated charcoal
Activated charcoal is also known to absorb odors from substances. Just like the coffee grounds, place the activated charcoal on baking sheets or in shallow bowls. Store it on different shelves of the fridge. Ensure that you set the fridge at low temperatures and within a few days, the smell will disappear.
How to Prevent Future Fridge Odors
To prevent future occurrences of bad smell from refrigerators, ensure that you use airtight containers when storing food. It will help keep the food fresh for long and prevent spills which lead to bad fridge odors.
On a weekly basis, ensure that you check and discard any expired food. This practice also reduces the likelihood of encountering an awful smell from your refrigerator.
After cleaning, I always make sure that the odor clears before putting back the containers. If you are leaving for a while, it is helpful to leave the fridge turned off and unplugged. In this case, you may leave the door a little bit open to prevent damp conditions as they might encourage the growth of mold which will also result in a bad smell.
For more smell-fighting tips, check out the following ways on how to clean away the odors:
- How to deodorize the garbage disposal
- How to remove urine smells from a mattress
- How to remove baby poop smell from carpet
- How to remove odor from clothes that smell after washing them
- How to remove vomit smell in cars
- How to remove mildew smell from towels
About the Author: Nathan Raymond is the CEO of West Coast Restoration & Cleaning. “Ray” and his staff are experts in water and fire restoration, and mold removal, carpet cleaning, and much more. As an expert in this field, Raymond enjoys sharing his experience with homeowners and property managers as an active author in the blogosphere. He has been active in the industry for over ten years, and his business can be found at www.westcoastrandc.com.
I didn’t see any mention of placing an open box of baking soda in the fridge.
Hi , I would like your assistant on this one , I accidentally switch off my fridge while leaving for holidays when I came back it was looking grey with all food spoilt but what worries me is my flora spread margarines (3 x1kg ones) were in the fridge as well but they are having the bad smell and they taste that smell too, is the a way to save them as you can imagine ……..3 tubs of 1kg flora its not a cent. PLEASE HELP!!!!
Carl R. Peterson says
The power company changed meters on our summer house in the middle of winter. Power was off from January to the middle of April and the food in the refrigerator and freezer all spoiled. We have cleaned out the spoiled food, washed the surfaces, and have left open boxes of baking soda in the refrigerator and freezer sections. We will try the white vinegar and oats/coffee grounds methods. However, the article does not seem to really address this deep of an odor problem. Do you have recommendations for odors that have been in the refrigerator for this length of time?
Katelyn Fagan says
Hit it with everything you got – the baking soda, vinegar, oats/coffee, and air it all out. You may have to really wash it all down with baking soda or vinegar. Give it some time still too. You can also try some charcoal bags in there and see if that would help too. Good luck! Sorry that happened to you!