Why Does My Fridge Smell?

Why does my fridge smell bad but no rotten food?

No one likes a smelly refrigerator. Or worse still, having a smelly refrigerator and being unable to work out what’s causing the stink. You’ve probably already thrown out potential foods that could be causing the issue, so why does the odor remain? If expired food isn’t causing the issue, probably some hidden mold or bacteria is lurking inside, perhaps in the door gasket or the drain pan, causing the smell.

Why does my fridge smell even after cleaning?

A.C. (After Cleaning) – If even after cleaning, the smell persists, then it may be time to make that dreaded service call. The bad smell could be coming from the drip pan underneath the fridge. Sometimes a damaged or used up water filter can emit odors. It could even be a buildup inside the fridge’s drainage system. Either way, you should find out if it’s something major.

Why does my fridge smell for no reason?

1. The refrigerator needs a deep clean – It should go without saying that a smelly refrigerator usually means it needs to be cleaned. The interior of the refrigerator is primarily made of plastic, and plastic absorbs odors. If the refrigerator is not regularly cleaned and emptied of spoiled food, it is most likely the reason the refrigerator smells.

  • Deep cleaning a refrigerator requires the removal of all the food and beverages, and so it gives you a good opportunity to throw out food that has spoiled or identify the food that is causing the unpleasant odor.
  • Once the food and beverages are removed, take out the refrigerator trays and drawers and wash them with dish soap and warm water.

If you are concerned about the dish soap scent being absorbed by food in the refrigerator, baking soda can be used to clean the refrigerator instead (see below). While the trays and drawers are drying or soaking, the refrigerator’s door seal (gasket) should also be wiped down.

Dish soap and warm water can also be used to clean the door seal. The refrigerator door seal is often a place where mold forms, usually underneath where you cannot easily see it. If you peel back the door seal, you may be surprised by what you find. Before returning the refrigerator trays and drawers to the refrigerator, clean the interior panels with dish soap and warm water (or vinegar or baking soda).

If you encounter stubborn stains or mold while cleaning the refrigerator, either distilled white vinegar or baking soda can be used to remove them.

Does baking soda really work in refrigerator?

Why Baking Soda Works – The scientific name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. It is a weak base that can act as an acid, depending on what it comes in contact with. The smells in your fridge are made up of food particles that float around and eventually settle into your other meals.

Is it safe to put food in a smelly fridge?

Download Article Download Article Over time, it’s natural for most refrigerators to build up a slightly unpleasant aroma. While the smell can be off-putting, it’s not doing any harm to your food itself. If you’d like to remove lingering food smells before they permanently soak into the interior of your fridge, start by throwing away any bad food.

  1. 1 Keep an open container of baking soda on a back shelf. Baking soda has no smell itself, but it’s great at absorbing and neutralizing other aromas. To get rid of odors in your fridge, open up a box of baking soda and store it on the back of the top shelf. When you notice a few unpleasant smells starting to emerge, toss that baking soda and replace it with another box.
    • If you fridge smells especially bad and you’d like to absorb a great deal of odor at once, pour out a full box of baking soda across a baking sheet and place leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Then discard the baking soda.
  2. 2 Remove odors from your freezer with boiled apple cider vinegar. Combine apple cider vinegar and water at a 1:3 ratio. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. As soon as the mixture begins boiling, remove it from the heat and pour it into a heat-resistant glass or metal bowl.
    • After the 4–6 hours have passed, remove the vinegar mixture and pour it down the drain.
    • Once it’s been boiled, apple cider vinegar absorbs unpleasant odors and replaces them with a pleasant fruity smell.


  3. 3 Cover 2–3 shelves with coffee grounds if you have plenty of time. Coffee grounds can successfully absorb unpleasant odors, but they take a long time to work. If you can live without your fridge for a few days, try this method. Spread dry, fresh coffee grounds across 2–3 baking sheets. Place each sheet on a different level of your refrigerator. The smells should leave within 3–4 days.
    • During this time, you’ll need to keep your food in a second refrigerator or in a few ice-filled coolers.
    • Once the 3–4 days have passed, dispose of the coffee grounds, wash the baking sheets, and put your food back into the fridge.
  4. 4 Set 2–3 baking sheets of unscented cat litter on different shelves. Coffee grounds can leave behind a slight coffee aroma in your fridge. If you’d like to absorb foul smells without leaving your fridge smelling like coffee, opt for cat litter instead.
    • Purchase unscented cat litter at any pet store or large supermarket. Some home-improvement stores will also stock cat litter.
  5. 5 Let activated charcoal absorb bad odors if other methods fail. Fill 3–4 small cloth bags with about 1 cup (130 g) of loose activated charcoal. Then place the charcoal-filled bags on different shelves in your fridge. Set the refrigerator temperature to low and leave the door closed as much as possible for several days. The smells in question should go away within 3–4 days.
    • Activated charcoal can be purchased from pet stores or drugstores.
    • Unlike with the coffee grounds method, you can use activated charcoal while your food is still in the fridge.
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  1. 1 Unplug your refrigerator from the wall before you begin cleaning it. Follow the power cable from the back of your fridge to the outlet where it’s plugged in, and pull the plug. If you leave the fridge plugged in as you clean, you’ll find that your next electric bill is extremely high! Tip: Some newer models of refrigerator have an “off” button. If yours does, you can just turn the fridge off rather than unplugging it.
  2. 2 Remove all of the food items from your fridge. Go through every storage area within your fridge—shelves, drawers, and door bins—and pull out all of the organic food items. Look closely at the food and, if anything is spoiled, rotten, or emitting a bad smell, throw it into the garbage. In most cases, bad smells in your fridge are caused by spoiled foods.
    • Try to start and finish the entire job within 4 hours. The USDA warns that food left out for over 4 hours may spoil or become unsafe to eat.
  3. 3 Place any food you choose to keep in a cooler while you work. Depending on the amount of food you store in your fridge—and how long it takes to scrub out—unspoiled food could be sitting out for quite some time. To avoid ruining good food, place it in a cooler while you’re cleaning the fridge. If you keep the lid shut, the refrigerated food will keep itself cold.
    • Add ice to the cooler if it will be out for over 60 minutes. This will keep the food well preserved.
  4. 4 Scrub the fridge walls and floor with a mixture of baking soda and water. Dissolve 1 cup (128 g) of baking soda into 1 gallon (3.8 L) of warm water. Dip an ordinary dish sponge into this mixture, lightly wring it out, and scrub out the interior of the fridge. Wash the fridge walls, ceiling, and bottom. Take the time to soak, scrub, and remove any lingering food stains.
    • If the mixture loses its potency or the sink fills up with food bits, throw out the batch and mix up a new one.
    • You can also use a solution that’s equal parts vinegar and water to clean the inside of your fridge.
  5. 5 Take out and wash all shelves, bins, and other removable parts. Remove all of the components of the fridge that aren’t attached to the walls, including the vegetable drawers and the shelves themselves. Wash and rinse all of the parts with your baking soda mixture before thoroughly drying and reinstalling them.
    • Also be sure to look underneath the vegetable bins. Sometimes bits of food and old water can accumulate beneath the bins and create a foul smell.
    • Avoid using the scrubbing side of a sponge on glass or plastic since it may leave scratches.
  6. 6 Clean any food scraps from the drip pan under the fridge. The drip pan is a thin plastic tray that clips into place beneath the bottom of the refrigerator. Remove the drip pan from beneath the doors, carefully pull it out and dump the contents. Then, dip your sponge into the baking soda mixture and scrub any food stains off of the drip pan before reinstalling it.
    • Not all refrigerator models have a drip pan. If yours doesn’t, you can skip this step. Do take the time to scrub the bottom of the fridge, though.
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  1. 1 Toss expired food weekly to prevent bad smells from accumulating. To prevent odors in the future, make a point to look in your fridge once a week or so and remove expired food. This preventative measure will keep foul smells from building up in the first place. It’s much easier to prevent bad odors in your fridge than it is to eliminate them.
    • Try looking right before you take out the trash. That way, you’ll be able to get the spoiled, smelly food out of your home as soon as you’ve noticed it.
  2. 2 Store fresh foods where they’re visible so they don’t spoil unnoticed. Fresh items like fruits and vegetables can easily go bad without your noticing if they’re tucked away in a seldom-opened veggie drawer or the back of a bottom shelf. Prevent this by storing them in a location where you’ll be able to see them daily.
    • For example, keep meat at the front of the top shelf, and keep fruits and veggies on a lower shelf where they’re easily visible.
  3. 3 Set the temperature in your fridge between 35–38 °F (2–3 °C). When kept in this temperature range, food will keep without going bad. Since it’s only when food spoils that it begins to smell, you’ll keep your fridge smelling fresh and clean as long as the temperature remains in this range.
    • Were you to set the fridge temperature to 32 °F (0 °C) or lower, of course, the food would freeze.
  4. 4 Keep leftover food in airtight containers to prevent it from smelling. If you leave food uncovered in your fridge or leave it in, for example, a cardboard takeout box, it’ll go bad quickly. The sooner food goes bad, the sooner it’ll begin to stink up your fridge. By keeping leftovers in a sealed airtight container, you’ll help them last longer and prevent foul smells.
    • As an extra measure to keep food from spoiling in your fridge, label and date leftovers when you store them. Tear off a piece of masking tape and stick it on top of the airtight container and write, for example, “February 14; chicken parmesan.”
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Add New Question

  • Question Do I need to turn off my fridge when getting rid of bad smells from it? This answer was written by one of our trained team of researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow Staff Editor Staff Answer Yes, you’ll need to remove all of the food and turn off the fridge. You can keep the food in another fridge or in a cooler during this time.
  • Question I cleaned out drip pan and drain on my refrigerator but it still smells like something died in it. What can I do? At the back of the fridge/freezer is the motor located at the base. Turn the power off and pull the appliance out. If it has a grill in front of the motor compartment, remove this and, with gloved hands, check all around the compartment. It could be a small four legged friend that has passed away or the remains of a nest.
  • Question Do all refrigerators contain drip trays? Mohsin Khan Community Answer Yes, mostly, but I noticed nowadays they assemble them on top of the compressor, so water evaporates by the heat generated there and it is rarely necessary to empty them.

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  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Baking soda
  • Warm tap water
  • Sponge
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cat litter
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Activated charcoal
  • 3–4 glass or metal bowls
  • 2–3 baking sheets
  • Airtight containers
  • Pen
  • Masking tape
  • Regardless of which method(s) you choose, don’t put the food back into your refrigerator until the stench has cleared.
  • After cleaning the fridge, also clean the condiment bottles and containers of food before putting them back in. Sometimes bad smells can cling to them.
  • If you have to leave your fridge off or unplugged for an extended period of time—e.g., if you’re taking a multiple-month vacation—clean it, take all the food out, and leave the door propped open since a warm, closed fridge can start to smell bad.

Show More Tips Advertisement

  • Never clean a cold glass shelf with hot water. Either allow it to come to room temperature or use lukewarm water. A sudden temperature change can shatter the glass.
  • Avoid using abrasive cleaning items (e.g., steel wool) to scrub refrigerator surfaces clean. These have the potential for scratching the refrigerator surfaces.

Advertisement Article Summary X To get rid of bad smells in your fridge, start by turning the fridge off, taking everything out of it, and putting the food in a cooler temporarily while you work. Next, dissolve 1 cup of baking soda in 1 gallon of warm water and use the mixture to wipe down the shelves, bins, and sides of the fridge.

How much baking soda do I put in my fridge for smell?

According to Consumer Reports, you can also mix 1 cup baking soda to a gallon of water and use it to wipe down the inside of the fridge. Need a faster solution? Try coffee. Place 1 cup ground coffee in a bowl or on a plate and leave it in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours.

How much baking soda does it take to get rid of smell?

Ready to be wowed by all the ways baking soda can transform your kitchen? – Buckle up and get sprinkling. Dishwashers are supposed to be Hallowed Havens of Cleanliness. If you don’t run the dishwasher every day, those rotten food smells can build up. Stop the stink by dumping a cup of baking soda into the dishwasher and running it through a rinse cycle.

  • Ah! That’s a nicer smelling place for your dishes.
  • If you avoid using your oven because of that special burning smell, scrub it with a paste made of a 1/2 cup of baking soda and a few tablespoons of water.
  • Coat the oven with the paste, and let it sit overnight.
  • Then, wipe it away with a damp cloth and spritz any stuck-on paste with some vinegar in a spray bottle.

That greasy range hood is adding to your kitchen’s odor. Clean it with a mixture of about 1/4 cup baking soda, a good squirt of degreasing dish soap, and the hottest water you can stand (but be careful not to burn yourself!). When you can’t place an odor, drains and disposals are often the culprits.

  • Make them stink- and (bonus!) clog-free with a mix of 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup vinegar, and some kosher salt.
  • It’ll neutralize the smell and give the drain a slightly abrasive scrubbing.
  • Follow up with boiling water.
  • Clean smelly plastic food containers by scrubbing and soaking them in a mixture of hot water and baking soda.

Your microwave still smells like last weekend’s bacon? Clean and deodorize it with a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda mixed with 1 cup water. Put the solution into an uncovered, microwave-safe container and zap on high for three minutes. Then, simply wipe down the interior.

Toss a handful of baking soda into your kitchen garbage pail and recycling container to control ongoing odors. Refresh every few days. Composting may be virtuous, but it can attack your nose every time you open the bin. Fight back by tossing a handful of baking soda into the compost bin before each deposit.

Occasionally clean the bin with vinegar. When it’s dry, cover the bin’s bottom with a layer of baking soda. Making fish tonight? Prevent odors before they start by soaking raw fish in one quart of water with two tablespoons of baking soda. Leave it in the fridge for about an hour, rinse, and pat dry before cooking.

  1. The best thing about the cheap, odor-zapping wonder of baking soda is you can use it guilt-free.
  2. You’re not going to harm humans or animals or ruin anything using baking soda,” Leverette says.
  3. Plus, after you’re done deodorizing, mix it up with vinegar or lemon juice and some red dye, and make a cool volcano.

The kids’ll love it.” Related: 10 Clever Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide

Where do you put baking soda in the fridge?

Leave out at least a cup of baking soda in the fridge and replace it often. – It’s not enough to open the flap on a box of baking soda, stick it in a random spot in the fridge, and forget about it. The ideal conditions for baking soda as a deodorizer are:

Pour at least one cup of baking soda into a shallow, open container, or leave the baking soda in its box with the entire top removed. Because the individual sodium bicarbonate crystals that make up baking soda must come into contact with smelly food-borne molecules to neutralize them, the more surface area the soda occupies, the more exposure it gets to the surrounding air and the more stink it can squash. A box with only a small flap open doesn’t permit many food molecules inside, so you’ll be left with a musty fridge. Put the bowl or box of baking soda as close to the source of the smell as possible. This will increase the odds that the fetid food molecules will land on the baking soda and spur the reaction needed to neutralize them. Replace the baking soda every three months. Leave it any longer and it will start to take on the smell of the molecules it reacted with, becoming a source of odor itself.

What can absorb bad odors?

Use an odor eliminator – There are plenty of things you probably already have in your home that can naturally clear odors from the air. Some of the best odor eliminators are coffee grounds, tea, vinegar, oats, and baking soda. Leaving a bowl of any of these odor absorbers out in a room that’s due for a little freshening up will help clear out the less-than-pleasant smells from the air.

  1. ‍ Baking soda is probably one of the most useful tools in eliminating odors from your home.
  2. Instead of masking odors like air fresheners and candles, baking soda absorbs and neutralizes them.
  3. It has a reputation for being one of the best carpet deodorizers.
  4. Sprinkling it across any carpeted areas and allowing it to sit there for a few hours will have your carpet smelling fresher in no time.

‍ Another place you should put baking soda? On your mattress! Your mattress is a trap for sweat, dirt, and dead skin. Definitely not the ideal things to sniff while trying to fall asleep. Just let it sit for several hours, then vacuum it up, and voila, you have many future better smelling nights of sleep ahead of you.

  1. First, place a layer of paper towels down on top of the wet spot.
  2. Then add a layer of newspaper to absorb as much of the urine as possible.
  3. Next, sprinkle about ¼ cup of baking soda evenly over the affected area, and let it sit out for awhile. Overnight or around 8 hours would work, but the longer it’s left out, the more effective it will be.
  4. After the baking soda has had time to neutralize the odor, vacuum it all up.

‍ Baking soda and vacuuming is also effective in neutralizing odors from your pet’s bed. ‍ An alternative to this method would be to mix together one cup of vinegar, one cup of water, and two tablespoons of baking soda. If you have a spray bottle, use that to spritz the urine stain with this mixture. Bam! Odor removed. ‍

How do you use baking soda for refrigerator odor?

What is the Best Way to Use Baking Soda as a Fridge Odor Remover? – To effectively use baking soda for fridge odor removal, simply follow these straightforward steps:

Place a minimum of one cup of baking powder into an open, shallow container. Alternatively, you can just fully open the box it came in. Put the container into the fridge, ideally as close to the source of the odor as possible. Leave for three months before replacing the baking soda, or sooner if the odor is returning.

Unfortunately, baking soda is no longer useful for baking once it’s been used in this way, as it has absorbed the bad smells from your fridge. However, if your kids need to present a science project, it can be used to make a stinky baking soda volcano!