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How To Remove Refrigerator Odors For Good | A Handy Guide

We've all experienced food spoilage in our refrigerators, no matter how careful we were. One of the most significant downsides of that is even when we remove the spoiled food, the stench still lingers.

Remove Refrigerator Odors

Worse still is that the odor left by expired food accumulates, so the longer you leave spoilage in the fridge, the more it'll start to smell.

So how do you get rid of this stench, you may ask? Well, we present tips and tricks on removing those foul refrigerator odors to help you consume food that's fresh and keep your fridge smelling as it should.

Getting Rid of Refrigerator Smells: 6 Sure-Fire Ways to Eliminate Odors

Getting Rid of Refrigerator Smells
© Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt

Luckily for you, removing odors from your refrigerator and freezer is easy and doable. It doesn't require intense chemicals and can be done with natural products.

Cleaning your fridge is quite a hassle for the first-timer, but over time you'll learn more conventional cleaning techniques.

May this also serve as a reminder to assess your fridge weekly.


If you're looking to upgrade your fridge to one with longer-lasting freshness, here's a ranking of the best refrigerators in the market.

What You'll Need to Remove Refrigerator Odors

Here are some key items you'll need to remove that foul-smelling odor from your fridge.

1. Deodorizer

These are essential when eliminating foul odors. They vary from baking soda to activated charcoal to coffee grounds.

There are a lot of household items that can be used as deodorizers as long as you follow the specific instructions to do so.

2. Sheet tray

Having a container where you can put deodorizers in the fridge is a great way to eliminate the odors in your fridge effectively.

You can use a cookie tray or a small bowl and perch it on the fridge's top shelf for maximum effect. Just remember to keep the door shut when doing so.

3. Cloth or Sponge

A damp sponge or a cleaning cloth is necessary when cleaning out your fridge. How else would you clean your fridge without a cloth or a sponge?

4. Dish Soap

Use soapy water to rinse away food residue and odor-causing bacteria. Also, avoid using hot water when cleaning glass shelves as they might break from the sudden temperature change.

Steps to Remove Refrigerator Smells

Now that you have what you need, here are steps that you should take when cleaning your refrigerator.


These steps also work with your mini-freezer. Speaking of mini-freezers, here are the best mini-freezers on the market right now!

1. Remove and Clean the Drip Pan

The first step will be to remove the drip pan, which is a tray found in most refrigerators that collects the condensation your refrigerator makes when it's being used.

Leaving an uncleaned drip pan can result in a puddle of foul-smelling water and may cause mold to form in your fridge.

If you follow the manufacturer's instructions, then you should be able to remove the kick plate and rinse and clean it with a sponge and dish soap.

2. Remove the Contents of the Fridge

This step is obvious; you can't have anything in your fridge while cleaning it. Move your food out of the fridge, and if you have a second refrigerator available, then move it there.

If you're looking for a new fridge, then we suggest a counter-depth refrigerator. Consider the pros and cons of a counter-depth refrigerator before buying one.

3. Wipe the Fridge

Wiping down the fridge and the shelves with a damp cloth will help relieve the refrigerator of food particles and foul odors.

Be sure to use dish soap to remove those odor-causing bacteria found on the shelves, crisper drawers, and the door.

4. Neutralize the Bad Smells

You can use a variety of methods when getting rid of foul odors. You can use a bleach solution, vinegar solution, baking soda, coffee grounds, or activated charcoal.

Make sure to have the door closed and keep it in the refrigerator overnight when doing this to keep your fridge smelling fresh.

Bonus Tip

You can use cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract, leaving a pleasant scent in your refrigerator.

What Causes Fridge Odors?

So what causes this foul fridge smell anyway? Well, when food starts to expire, it'll start to emit this funky odor that we perceive as foul.

It'll start circulating the fridge walls and can stick to them, but once there are too many foul smells, then it'll keep circulating through the air inside the closed doors of the fridge until you open it.

This can accumulate over time, so once you smell something pungent in the air, it's probably a sign to clean your fridge.

What Materials Absorb Odors?

With this knowledge about eliminating bad refrigerator smells, what are the best materials and ingredients you can use to absorb these bad smells?

Here is a list of the best ingredients that you can use as an odor eliminator.

1. Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great ingredient to neutralize odors.

You can spread the baking soda on a cookie sheet, or you can make a baking soda solution by mixing a gallon of warm water and a cup of baking soda.

For further understanding, this is what happens when you put baking soda in the refrigerator.

2. Vinegar


Source: Waltermart

Vinegar is another alternative if you don't have baking soda. Simply mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water and put it in a spray bottle.

3. Fresh Coffee Grounds

Fresh Coffee Grounds

Source: GrowVeg

Coffee grounds are great when trying to get rid of the lingering foul odor smell. Simply leaving it in the fridge will best neutralize the smelly fridge odors.

They are the most natural odor absorbers and leave a strong coffee smell instead.

4. Activated Charcoal

Activated Charcoal

Source: Good Housekeeping

Activated charcoal acts as a deodorizer and is very effective when trying to get rid of unpleasant smells from your fridge.

The activated carbon in the charcoal acts like a sponge that absorbs the foul stench lingering in the air.

You can make loose activated charcoal packets by putting them in cloth bags or a clean sock.

How to Prevent Odors from Developing

1. Store Your Goods Properly

Food can get rotten faster if you don't store it properly. So use airtight containers to ensure your food can last longer in the fridge.

2. Keep Tabs on Your Food

When we have a lot of stored goods in our fridge, we forget that it even exists, and eventually, they will go past their expiration date.

Label and date leftovers so that you won't forget that you need to consume the food before its expiration date.

3. Set at the Proper Temperature

Temperature plays a big role in the development of mold and bacteria growth. The optimal temperature to inhibit bacterial growth is around 37°F for fridges and 0°F for freezers.

Remove Refrigerator Odor FAQs

  • Here are some frequently asked questions you may like to know when it comes to fridge cleaning.

  • How Do Deodorizers Work?

    Deodorizers work by taking the smelly molecules and changing their molecular structure, turning them into a substance that leaves no smell.

  • What’s Better, Baking Soda or Activated Charcoal?

    Baking soda is great because it is affordable and can be found in every kitchen. It changes the odor molecules into an odor-free state and is commonly used as a personal deodorant.

    Activated charcoal works best as it absorbs the foul odor as long as you spread it, utilizing a huge surface area.

    Both are great options, but if you’re on a budget, then your best bet is baking soda. But if you have money to spend, then pick the charcoal.

  • Remove Refrigerator Odors Conclusion
    © Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt


    A clean refrigerator creates a healthy family and tasty food. Be sure to clean your fridge regularly to avoid the contamination of products inside your refrigerator.

    Hopefully, this handy guide has informed you about the tools and materials you need to use to clean your fridge.