When a Fridge Smells Bad (Even After Cleaning): 10 Easy Fixes

Published December 9, 2020
Man Noticing Smell Coming From Foul Food In Refrigerator

Nothing is more annoying than when your fridge smells bad even after cleaning it. Learn ways to remove nasty refrigerator smells using simple ingredients you have at home. Find out where to look for fridge smells, not from rotten food.

Fridge Smells Bad Even After Cleaning

If your fridge smells like death even after you've used all your cleaning prowess on it, then it's probably an odor that's seeped into the plastic. Therefore, you need something to absorb the smell out of the plastic. There are a couple of ways you can get your fridge smelling fresh again. However, you'll also find unplugging it and allowing it to air out for 30 minutes to an hour can do wonders for smells.

How To Get Rid of Fridge Smell With Baking Soda

One of the best-known remedies for nasty smells permeating out of your refrigerator is to use the odor obliterating power of baking soda.

  • Simply crack open a fresh container of baking soda and leave it in your fridge for about three days. You'll be amazed at how well baking soda removes those odors.

  • An alternative is to add a mound of baking soda to a bowl and put it on each shelf of the fridge for a few days.

    Baking soda placed in refrigerator to deodorize bad odor

How to Get Rid of Fridge Smell With Lemon

When it comes to removing fridge odors, many people reach for lemon because of its refreshing scent. To use this odor hack, simply:

  • Squeeze half of the juice of a lemon on to a cloth and wipe down the plastic sides of the fridge.

  • Wedge up the rest of the lemon and leave it on a plate in the fridge for a day or two.

Using Coffee to Absorb Fridge Odors

Coffee isn't just your morning pick me up. It can be an odor eliminator for your stinky fridge too.

  • Simply put a cup of coffee grounds on a saucer and leave it in the fridge for a few days.

  • Replace the grounds for more odor-fighting power.

How to Get Rid of Fridge Smell With Vanilla

In addition to the coffee and baking soda tricks, try a cotton ball soaked in vanilla essential oil.

  • Leave the vanilla soaked swab in the fridge for a day with the door closed.

Remove Refrigerator Odors With Newspaper

Got a couple of newspapers hanging out around your home? Then you can use them to remove odors from your fridge.

  • Wipe down all the plastic with white vinegar.

  • Roll the newspapers and put them in the fridge.

  • Allow them to sit for 3-4 days with the fridge without using it.

Fridge Smells But No Rotten Food

If you had a spill or rotten food in your fridge, that's one thing, but if your fridge stinks without rotten food, then you need to get more creative. There are all kinds of places that bacteria and mold can hang out, creating that horrible smell.

Clean Under Veggie Bin Trays

While you might have thrown out old fruit and veggies, they can still leave behind juice and bacteria that can rot. Try pulling out the bins and scrubbing them out along with scrubbing underneath of them with straight white vinegar or peroxide.

Woman Cleaning Refrigerator

Clean Drip Tray

Many of us know there is a drip tray under our fridge but forget to clean it. That little tray can fill with stagnant water and other bacteria. Using your user's manual, pull out your drip tray and clean it with soapy water. For particularly nasty trays, consider adding a cup of hydrogen peroxide to the dishwater.

Check Under Your Refrigerator

If you've tried everything inside of your fridge and are still getting a smell, then it might not be inside of your fridge that is the problem. It could be food that rolled underneath your fridge and rotted, or you had a spill of your drip pan.

  • Pull out the fridge with a little help.

  • Use a cleaner approved for your flooring to clean under the fridge.

Fridge Smells Like Chemical

When your fridge starts smelling like chemicals and not the cleaning kind, you could have a big problem on your hands that requires a professional. However, before you panic, there are still a few things you can try.

Change the Water Filter

If the smell in and around your fridge is sulfury and you have a water dispenser, then it could be your water filter. In that case, you want to replace the water filter in your fridge. You can also clean around the area to ensure there isn't anything else going on with the water filtration system. You might also want to discard the ice cubes.

Clean the Refrigerator Coils

Refrigerator coils can get caked with dust and other grime and cause a smell. Therefore, you need to clean the coils carefully. Remember to unplug the refrigerator before taking on this adventure.

Empty open freezer with leftover ice bottom view

Check for Freon Leak

One of the key characteristics of a refrigerator that might be leaking freon is a weird smell. You'll also notice that it's constantly running and isn't keeping as cold as it usually does. In this case, you need to call a professional appliance technician to see if your fridge is fixable.

Getting Rid of Refrigerator Smells

Not all fridge smells are due to rotten food. However, if they are, you have several methods in your artillery to get rid of them. Now that you know how to get rid of those fridge smells, it's time to get cleaning!

When a Fridge Smells Bad (Even After Cleaning): 10 Easy Fixes