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Why does my fridge smell so bad? How do I get rid of a bad smell in my fridge fast?

Doesn’t matter how old your fridge would last, we’ve all experienced it: you open the fridge or freezer expecting a refreshing drink or a late-night snack, only to be hit with a foul smell. Even if you keep the rest of your home spotless, neglecting your fridge can lead to stale, unpleasant odours.

The good news is that eliminating the smell isn’t hard, but you need to start by finding what’s causing it, whether it’s forgotten food or poorly sealed containers. Then, make a few simple changes to your cleaning routine to keep your fridge smelling fresh.

Why does my fridge smell so bad?

A bad smell in your fridge can come from a variety of sources:

  1. Spoiled Food: The most common reason is spoiled food. Check for any expired or rotting items, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, or leftovers.
  2. Spills and Leaks: Sometimes spills or leaks from food containers can go unnoticed and start to smell bad. Clean up any spills promptly and regularly check for leaks in containers.
  3. Mould and Mildew: Moisture in the fridge can lead to mould and mildew growth, especially in areas like the vegetable crisper or along seals. Clean these areas thoroughly with a mixture of vinegar and water.
  4. Dirty Components: The drip pan, drain hole, and other parts of the fridge can accumulate dirt, food particles, and bacteria over time. Regularly clean these areas to prevent odours.
  5. Expired Condiments: Check your condiments and sauces for expiration dates. Sometimes these can get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about.
  6. Old Ice: If you have an ice maker, old ice can develop a stale smell. Empty the ice tray and clean it regularly.
  7. Stagnant Air: Sometimes, simply the air inside the fridge can become stale, especially if it’s not circulating properly. Try placing an open box of baking soda or activated charcoal inside to absorb odors, and ensure proper ventilation.

Once you’ve identified and removed the source of the smell, you can get rid of that smell by following these steps.

A woman's hand in a yellow rubber protective glove and a pink sponge washes and cleans the refrigerator shelves. Cleaning service, housewife, routine housework. Glass cleaner.

How do I get rid of a bad smell in my fridge fast?

Clean the refrigerator drip pan.

The drip pan is a small tray that catches condensation from your fridge to prevent it from leaking into your kitchen. Usually, the heat from the refrigerator coils helps evaporate this moisture. However, if excess liquid accumulates, it can create a pool of smelly water. You can find the drip pan underneath the fridge, often behind a kick plate at the front or back of the appliance. Refer to your refrigerator’s manual for specific instructions on locating and accessing the drip pan. If you can’t find your manual, search online using the model number.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove the kick plate or back panel and clean the drip pan using a cloth or sponge. If you need to pull the fridge away from the wall, remember to unplug the water and power supply before cleaning. Empty any standing water from the drip pan and remove mould or mildew with a diluted bleach or vinegar-water solution. Rinse or wipe the drip pan clean with a damp cloth, then ensure it’s thoroughly dry before replacing the panel.

Natural wood or hardwood charcoal, space for text

Get rid of fridge odours with activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon, is a fine black powder that acts like a sponge, absorbing tiny particles that cause bad smells in your fridge. It’s commonly used in water filtration systems to remove contaminants and works the same way to clean the air.

You can buy activated charcoal sachets from different stores. Simply place one on a fridge shelf to absorb moisture and eliminate odours in your refrigerator.

Air out the smelly fridge.

A humid fridge full of food is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mould. The tightly sealed interior can trap unpleasant smells in the walls and shelves. To freshen it up, empty the fridge and store the items in coolers or another fridge if you have one. After unplugging the fridge and wiping down the interior, leave the doors open for about an hour before restocking. This helps to air out the fridge and get rid of any lingering odours.

Baking soda with detergent and pile of dirty laundry

Use baking soda.

Baking soda is great at catching and absorbing odours, but it’s more effective when it has more surface area. Instead of leaving it in the box, sprinkle some onto a damp sponge. Then, place the sponge on a refrigerator shelf. You can replenish the baking soda as needed to keep your fridge smelling fresh.

Create a deodorizer.

Another way to tackle fridge odours with baking soda is to make a deodorizer using an old spice jar. Pour some baking soda into the jar using a funnel for a stylish odour-eliminating solution. The holes in the top allow smelly particles to come into contact with the baking soda. For an extra pleasant scent, add a few drops of citrus essential oil to the mixture!

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Neutralize odours with coffee grounds.

Coffee has a strong and pleasant scent that can help neutralize bad fridge smells. Simply place a small bowl of coffee grounds in the refrigerator to replace odours with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Keep in mind that coffee can transfer its smell to other items in your fridge, so avoid storing unpackaged food near the coffee grounds.

These strategies offer a straightforward way to eliminate unpleasant refrigerator odours. However, if you’ve tried everything and the smell persists, you may be dealing with a more serious issue. Consider calling a refrigerator technician who can diagnose the problem and quickly get your fridge smelling fresh again.

Conclusion

To conclude the article, here are the key steps to eliminate bad odours from your fridge:

  • Clean Regularly: Address spills, leaks, and expired items promptly. Regularly clean components like the drip pan and ensure proper air circulation.
  • Use Odour Absorbers: Place activated charcoal or baking soda in the fridge to absorb and neutralize odours.
  • Air Out: Occasionally empty and air out the fridge to prevent stale smells.
  • Seek Professional Help: If odours persist despite thorough cleaning, consult a refrigerator technician.

These measures will help maintain a fresh-smelling fridge and prevent future odour issues. Remember, a clean fridge is key to a pleasant-smelling kitchen.

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