How to Eliminate Unpleasant Odors in Your Fridge

The importance of maintaining a fresh and odor-free refrigerator. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with effective strategies and tips on how to get rid of smells in your fridge, ensuring a clean and inviting environment for your perishables.

A foul smell emanating from your fridge can not only be unpleasant but also affect the taste and quality of your stored food items.

Understanding the Causes of Fridge Odors

Before we delve into the solutions, it’s essential to understand the common culprits behind those unwanted odors in your refrigerator. By addressing the root causes, you can prevent the smells from returning in the future.

  1. Spoiled or Expired Food: Rotting or expired food items are the primary sources of unpleasant smells in fridges. Regularly check and discard any past-due or spoiled products to maintain freshness.
  2. Improper Food Storage: Inadequate storage practices can lead to cross-contamination and odors. Ensure raw meats and pungent items are tightly sealed or stored in separate compartments to prevent their odors from permeating other foods.
  3. Poor Air Circulation: Limited airflow within your refrigerator can trap odors and contribute to a stale environment. Avoid overpacking your fridge and allow sufficient space for air to circulate freely.
  4. Lingering Spills and Stains: Liquid spills and stains left uncleaned can generate foul smells over time. Promptly address any spills and regularly clean your fridge to maintain a fresh interior.

Odors in Your Fridge

how to get rid of smells in fridge

A smelly fridge can be unpleasant and may affect the freshness of your food.

The following are some common causes of fridge odors and tips to get rid of them.

Summary table:

Cause of Fridge Odors

Tips to Eliminate Odors

Spills and Mold– Clean up spills promptly – Regularly sanitize the fridge
Dirty Fridge– Wipe down interior surfaces with equal parts vinegar and water
Absorbed Odors– Store pungent foods in airtight containers – Use baking soda or coffee grounds to absorb odors
Faulty Fridge or Freezer– Consult a professional for repairs if needed

1. Spills and Mold

Food or liquid spills in the fridge can create a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. Mold can also grow in moist areas or on food. Cleaning up spills promptly and regularly sanitizing your fridge can help prevent odors.

2. Dirty Fridge

If your fridge is not cleaned regularly, it can accumulate dirt and develop odors. Wiping down the interior surfaces, including shelves, drawers, and door seals, with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water can help eliminate odors.

Related: How to Clean A Whirlpool Dishwasher

3. Absorbed Odors

Certain foods, such as onions or garlic, can leave a strong odor that other foods in the fridge can absorb. Storing these pungent foods in airtight containers or wrapping them tightly can help prevent the spread of odors. You can also place an open box of baking soda or a bowl of coffee grounds in the fridge to absorb odors.

4. Faulty Fridge or Freezer

In rare cases, a bad odor could be a sign of a problem with the fridge or freezer, such as a malfunctioning compressor or a defective seal. If you suspect a mechanical issue, it’s best to consult a professional for repair.

How To Deodorize Your Fridge and Keep it Smelling Fresh

Remember, it’s important to identify and address the root cause of the odor to prevent it from returning. If the odor persists or you suspect a mechanical issue, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance.

Pro Tip: Eliminating Bad Smells from Your Refrigerator. A smelly refrigerator can be unpleasant and affect the freshness of your food.

Here are tips to help get rid of bad smells from your refrigerator:

1. Clean the Interior

Start by emptying the fridge and removing all items. Wipe down the interior surfaces, including shelves, drawers, and door seals, with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. This can help remove any spills, stains, or bacteria that may be causing the odor.

2. Remove Spoiled Food

Check for any expired or spoiled food items and discard them. Spoiled food can produce unpleasant smells that can spread throughout the fridge.

3. Use Odor Absorbers

Place an open box of baking soda, a bowl of coffee grounds, or a cup of white vinegar in the fridge to absorb odors. These natural deodorizers can help neutralize unpleasant smells over time.

4. Clean the Drip Pan

The drip pan is a small tray located underneath the fridge that collects condensation. If excess liquid builds up in the drip pan, it can result in a foul smell. Consult your refrigerator’s manual for instructions on locating and accessing the drip pan, and cleaning it if necessary.

5. Air it Out

Leave the fridge door open for a few hours or overnight to allow fresh air to circulate and help eliminate odors. This can be done after cleaning the interior and removing any odor sources.

6. Check the Seals

Ensure that the door seals are in good condition and properly sealing the fridge. Damaged or loose seals can allow air to escape or enter, leading to odor problems. If needed, clean the seals with a mild detergent and warm water, and replace them if necessary.

7. Regular Maintenance

To prevent odors from recurring, practice good food storage habits, promptly clean up spills, and regularly clean your fridge. This includes wiping down surfaces, checking for expired food, and keeping the interior organized.

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how to get rid of bad smells in fridge

Tried-and-Tested Methods for Odor Elimination

Now that we’ve identified the causes, let’s explore effective solutions to eliminate those unpleasant smells and restore a pleasant fragrance to your refrigerator.

1. Deep Cleaning with Natural Ingredients

Start by emptying your fridge completely and removing all shelves and drawers for a thorough cleaning. Prepare a cleaning solution using the following natural ingredients:

  • Baking Soda

Known for its odor-absorbing properties, baking soda is a fantastic ally in fighting fridge smells. Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with a quart of warm water to create a powerful cleaning solution.

  • White Vinegar

With its acidic nature, white vinegar can effectively neutralize odors and kill bacteria. Create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water to use as a cleaning agent.

  • Lemon Juice

The citric acid in lemon juice acts as a natural deodorizer and leaves behind a fresh scent. Combine the juice of one lemon with a cup of water for a refreshing cleaning solution.

Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the chosen cleaning solution and wipe down all interior surfaces of your fridge, including the shelves, drawers, and walls. Pay extra attention to any stubborn stains or spills. Rinse the cloth or sponge frequently to prevent spreading dirt or odors.

2. Targeted Odor Absorption

After the cleaning process, you can further combat lingering odors by utilizing specific odor-absorbing materials:

  • Activated Charcoal

Placing a bowl of activated charcoal or charcoal briquettes in your fridge can effectively absorb and neutralize odors. Leave the charcoal inside for a few days before removing it.

  • Coffee Grounds

Unused coffee grounds can serve as natural deodorizers. Fill a small container or sock with dry coffee grounds and place it in your fridge for a few days to eliminate odors.

  • Vanilla Extract

Soak a cotton ball or a piece of cloth in vanilla extract and leave it in your fridge for a pleasant aroma that masks any remaining odors.

Remember to replace the odor-absorbing materials periodically to maintain their effectiveness.

3. Freshness Maintenance and Preventive Measures

Maintaining a fresh and odor-free refrigerator involves more than just eliminating existing smells. By implementing proper freshness maintenance and preventive measures, you can proactively prevent odors from occurring in the first place. Here are some essential practices to incorporate into your routine:

  • Regular Cleaning Schedule

Establishing a regular cleaning schedule is crucial to ensure a clean and fresh-smelling fridge. Set aside some time every month to thoroughly clean the interior of your refrigerator. Remove all food items, shelves, and drawers, and clean them with a mild detergent or natural cleaning solution.

Wipe down the walls and seals, paying extra attention to corners and crevices where dirt and spills may accumulate. By maintaining a clean environment, you significantly reduce the risk of odors developing.

  • Proper Food Storage

Proper food storage plays a significant role in preventing odors from permeating your refrigerator. Follow these guidelines for optimal storage:

  • Sealable Containers: Store leftovers, fresh produce, and other food items in sealed containers or airtight bags to prevent odors from spreading.
  • Separate Pungent Foods: Strong-smelling foods like onions, garlic, and cheeses should be stored separately or in sealed containers to avoid their odors from infiltrating other items.
  • Wrap Strong Odors: If you have particularly odorous foods, such as seafood or pungent spices, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing them in the fridge.
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By implementing these storage practices, you can maintain the freshness of your food and minimize the risk of unpleasant odors.

  • Temperature and Airflow Control

Maintaining the appropriate temperature and promoting proper airflow within your refrigerator is vital for odor prevention.

  • Temperature Setting: Set your fridge to the recommended temperature of 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 3 degrees Celsius) and your freezer to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius). These temperatures discourage the growth of bacteria and help keep your food fresh.
  • Avoid Overpacking: Overpacking your fridge inhibits proper airflow, leading to stale air and potential odors. Allow sufficient space between items to ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Frequent Defrosting: If your refrigerator has a freezer compartment that tends to accumulate frost, regular defrosting is necessary. Excess frost can cause unpleasant odors and affect the overall performance of your fridge.

By maintaining the optimal temperature and promoting good airflow, you create an environment that minimizes the chances of odor development.

  • Odor Prevention Products

In addition to the targeted odor-absorbing materials mentioned earlier, several other products can aid in odor prevention and freshness maintenance:

  • Refrigerator Deodorizers: Consider investing in commercial refrigerator deodorizers specifically designed to neutralize odors. These products often come in the form of activated charcoal or odor-absorbing gels and can provide long-lasting freshness.
  • Baking Soda: As mentioned earlier, baking soda is a versatile and readily available option for absorbing odors. Place an open box or a small dish of baking soda in your fridge to help neutralize any lingering smells.


How to get rid of a smelly refrigerator?
To eliminate refrigerator odor, dispose of expired food, clean interior surfaces with a mixture of baking soda and water, and place an open box of baking soda inside to absorb lingering smells.

Can I get rid of the smell in the fridge with lemon?
Yes, you can. Place a halved lemon on a plate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to absorb the odors. You can also, mix lemon juice with water, wipe down the interior, and leave the door open for ventilation.


Maintaining a fresh and odor-free refrigerator is not an arduous task when you implement the right strategies. By regularly cleaning your fridge, practicing proper food storage, controlling temperature and airflow, and utilizing odor-prevention products, you can ensure a pleasant and inviting environment for your perishable goods.

Remember, a clean and fresh-smelling fridge not only enhances your culinary experience but also contributes to food safety and overall well-being.