How do I Eliminate Refrigerator Odor? (with pictures)

K T Solis
K T Solis
The smell and flavor of food will remain fresh longer in a clean refrigerator.
The smell and flavor of food will remain fresh longer in a clean refrigerator.

Refrigerator odor is a sign that foods stored within the refrigerator have spoiled. When a homeowner notices that strong odors are wafting from the refrigerator, she should immediately take steps to determine the source of the problem. Odors emanating from the refrigerator are signs that mold, bacteria, and mildew are breeding within the appliance. This can cause an unhealthy environment in which to store food.

Many people use baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors.
Many people use baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors.

To prevent bad odors from taking over the refrigerator, leave an opened box of baking soda inside. Baking soda absorbs odors within the refrigerator and will keep them from interacting with each other. The baking soda container should be replaced at least every three months in order to continue to work effectively.

If a refrigerator is still plagued with odors, begin the process of cleaning out the appliance. Remove everything inside the refrigerator and throw out foods that have been stored there for too long. Use a kitchen cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the interior of the refrigerator. Concentrate on eliminating any spills or stains so that the appliance is deodorized and scrubbed clean.

Cleaning a refrigerator will help eliminate unwelcome odors.
Cleaning a refrigerator will help eliminate unwelcome odors.

Take note of any items in the refrigerator that have expired. Milk or lunch meat stored in the refrigerator may be the cause of bad odors. Throw away any foods that have passed their expiration dates as they are probably spoiled and can cause people to get sick if they consume them.

Stubborn refrigerator odor may call for drastic measures. If bad odors persist, consider placing a pan of baking soda inside the refrigerator. When possible, keep the fridge open and unplugged in order to air it out and allow the baking soda time to absorb smelly odors. Some people may even opt to place a pan of kitty litter in the refrigerator since this particular product will also help to eliminate bad smells. Another alternative is using a pan filled with coffee grounds or activated charcoal to put an end to refrigerator odor.

Baking soda can help absorb odors in the refrigerator.
Baking soda can help absorb odors in the refrigerator.

Cleaning the refrigerator on a regular basis can prevent odor problems from occurring in most refrigerators. For example, whenever a spill occurs, take time to clean it up as soon as possible. Spills that are allowed to linger inside the refrigerator will eventually cause the appliance to smell. Food should always be stored in containers with tight lids. Uncovered containers can tumble over, causing food to spill onto the shelves of the refrigerator.

When possible, keep a fridge door open and unplugged to air out unpleasant smells.
When possible, keep a fridge door open and unplugged to air out unpleasant smells.

Refrain from keeping leftovers in the fridge for long periods of time, and throw food out as soon as it spoils. This will keep bacteria from taking over the refrigerator and causing refrigerator odor. The temperature of the refrigerator should be monitored so that it is cold enough to discourage the growth of bacteria as well.

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Discussion Comments

recapitulate

You should also remember that one of the most overlooked refrigerator odor causes is probably the food that already smelled strongly when it was put it. Many meats, cheeses, and prepared foods, especially ones with a lot of garlic or other spices, have strong scents that, when all placed into the same storage place at once, will not combine and react well at all.

hyrax53

Baking soda generally does not work to remove odor. While I do not know about charcoal, I doubt it works for everything. To remove odor, remove the things that smell bad; if that doesn't work, clean the refrigerator. There really is not shortcut out of this.

anon43337

Great tips, thank you. I found that for really difficult odors in my fridge, baking soda does not work as well as charcoal. Recently also saw a TV spot on the Food Network that compared both and the conclusion was that activated charcoal works better. I've also learned that there is a big difference between regular charcoal and special "activated" charcoal made for this and I've been using a product called FridgeIT which is a purple cube with activated charcoal. I've been very impressed with how much better this works for me. Even had bad lobsters in fridge that knocked me over and the Fridge IT took care of it. Yeah!

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    • The smell and flavor of food will remain fresh longer in a clean refrigerator.
      The smell and flavor of food will remain fresh longer in a clean refrigerator.
    • Many people use baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors.
      Many people use baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors.
    • Cleaning a refrigerator will help eliminate unwelcome odors.
      Cleaning a refrigerator will help eliminate unwelcome odors.
    • Baking soda can help absorb odors in the refrigerator.
      Baking soda can help absorb odors in the refrigerator.
    • When possible, keep a fridge door open and unplugged to air out unpleasant smells.
      When possible, keep a fridge door open and unplugged to air out unpleasant smells.