How do I fix a smelly refrigerator?


A smelly refrigerator can be quite unpleasant and may affect the freshness and taste of the food stored inside. In this article, we will explore various methods to fix a smelly refrigerator. We will discuss the common causes of refrigerator odors, provide step-by-step instructions for cleaning and deodorizing, offer tips to prevent future odors, and suggest natural remedies for eliminating unpleasant smells.

A refrigerator with the top and bottom part fully open

How do I fix a smelly refrigerator?

Identify the Source of the Odor:

The first step in fixing a smelly refrigerator is identifying the source of the odor. Common causes include spoiled or expired food, spills, mold or mildew growth, and dirty or clogged drain pans or filters. By pinpointing the source, you can effectively address the underlying issue causing the unpleasant smell.

Remove and Discard Spoiled Food:

Start by removing any spoiled or expired food from the refrigerator. These items are often the primary source of bad odors. Check all containers, packages, and produce for signs of spoilage or expiration dates. Discard any items that are no longer safe to consume.

Empty and Clean the Refrigerator:

To thoroughly clean the refrigerator, empty its contents and remove all shelves, drawers, and removable parts. Prepare a cleaning solution of warm water and mild dish soap or a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Use a sponge or cloth soaked in the solution to wipe down all surfaces, including the interior walls, shelves, drawers, and door seals. Pay special attention to areas with visible spills or stains.

Clean and Unclog Drain Pans and Filters:

A dirty or clogged drain pan or filter can contribute to a foul odor in the refrigerator. Locate the drain pan at the bottom of the refrigerator and remove it. Clean it with warm soapy water, ensuring that any accumulated debris or residue is thoroughly removed. Additionally, clean or replace the refrigerator’s filter if it is removable and washable.

Deodorize with Baking Soda:

Baking soda is known for its ability to absorb and neutralize odors. After cleaning the refrigerator, place an open box or a small bowl filled with baking soda on one of the shelves. This will help absorb any remaining odors and keep the refrigerator smelling fresh. Replace the baking soda every three months for continued effectiveness.

Natural Remedies for Odor Elimination:

In addition to baking soda, there are natural remedies that can help eliminate unpleasant odors. Place a small dish of activated charcoal, coffee grounds, or a sliced lemon in the refrigerator to absorb and neutralize odors. These natural remedies can provide a fresh scent without the use of harsh chemicals.

Proper Food Storage:

To prevent future odors, it’s important to store food properly in the refrigerator. Ensure that all food items are stored in airtight containers or wrapped securely to prevent spills and cross-contamination. Wipe down food containers before placing them back in the refrigerator to avoid any residue buildup.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance:

Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to keep a refrigerator odor-free. Set a schedule to clean the refrigerator every few months or as needed. This includes wiping down surfaces, cleaning spills immediately, and checking for any potential sources of odors. Regularly defrosting the refrigerator and cleaning the drip pan can also help prevent unpleasant smells from developing.

Keep the Refrigerator Well-Ventilated:

A well-ventilated refrigerator helps prevent the buildup of moisture and odors. Ensure that the refrigerator is not overcrowded, as proper airflow is essential to maintaining freshness. Avoid blocking the vents inside the refrigerator, as this can hinder the circulation of cold air and contribute to odors.


A smelly refrigerator can be remedied by identifying the source of the odor, removing spoiled food, thoroughly cleaning all surfaces, and deodorizing with natural remedies such as baking soda or activated charcoal. Proper food storage, regular cleaning and maintenance, and maintaining good ventilation can help prevent future odors. By following these steps, you can eliminate unpleasant smells and enjoy a fresh and clean refrigerator.

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