How to Get Rid Of Bad Refrigerator Odor

refrigerator odor

Often an awful smell comes from the refrigerator!Bad odors in a refrigerator are often caused by electrical failure or an accidental unplugging. Before knowing what has happened to your clean and fresh refrigerator, it can turn into a smelling fridge with horrifying odors.

As a stinky fridge is not a good place to store food people often look for ways to get rid of the problem as soon as possible. With a bit of effort and time, you can make your refrigerator smell freshand clean.

In This Article:

Tips to remove bad odor from your refrigerator

Getting rid of bad odors in a refrigerator can be a nightmare but it is not an impossible task. If you have a bad smell in your refrigerator, here are some easy tips to make it history.

Clean your refrigerator: The very first thing you need to do is clean your refrigerator properly. Take out all shelves, bins and any other removable parts from the refrigerator and then wash them properly. Keep the parts outside in the sun for some time so that they dry properly. In the mean time wipe the walls and floor properly and do not forget to clean the inside of the drawers.

Clean the drip tray: The drip tray is located beneath the refrigerator. It is very essential to clean the drip tray from time to time as it contains dirty water from which may be the reason behind bad odor coming from your refrigerator. You can clean the drip tray by removing the grill from beneath the doors and then carefully pull it out and dump the contents. Finally deodorize the drip tray by soaking it in baking soda and water after cleaning.

Defrost your refrigerator: Regularly defrost your refrigerator and freezer compartment. This is essential as bad odors can condense and mix with the ice already found inside the refrigerator. Defrosting will also help to get rid of the thick shards and layers of ice that make the refrigerator inefficient at keeping and preserving food.

Ensure maximum circulation: To eliminate bad odors you also need to make sure that there is enough cold air circulating all over the refrigerator. Adequate airflow will help to preserve food items for longer period of time and to some extent it will solve the problem of bad odor.

Discard rotten items: Turn off the refrigerator and unplug it and then remove all the food items from your fridge. Check all the items properly and slowly discard the rotten food items. Rotten foods are the main culprit behind stinky smell coming from your refrigerator.

Store food properly: One of the main culprits behind bad refrigerator odors is improper storage of food items. Different compartments of a refrigerator have different temperatures that preserve the freshness, aroma, and flavor of different kinds of food. So it is very essential to store food items in their respective compartments only.

Use natural ingredients to get rid of bad smells

Baking soda: To get rid of bad odor coming from your refrigerator, you can use baking soda. Take a box of baking soda and spread it on a baking sheet and then place the baking sheet in the refrigerator. For the odor to get out completely you need to keep the door of the refrigerator closed for several hours. At the same time you can also keep an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator all times.

Vinegar: White vinegar can neutralize many of the bad smells that come out from your refrigerator. Put an open cup or bowl filled with white vinegar in the fridge. You can also mix white vinegar with water and use this solution to clean your refrigerator.

Oats: You can use oats to remove bad odor coming from your refrigerator. Put oats in a bowl and then keep the bowl in your refrigerator for several hours. The bowl of oats will suck in the bad smells.

Coffee grounds: Take dry, fresh coffee grounds and spread it across baking sheets and then put it inside your refrigerator. Within a few days the smells coming from your refrigerator will go away.

Charcoal: You can also use activated charcoal to remove bad odors. Place activated charcoal in few bowls and put them on different parts inside the refrigerator. Set the temperature of the refrigerator to minimum and keep the door of the refrigerator closed for three days.

Vanilla: You can also clean the refrigerator with vanilla extract in order to get rid of the bad odor. Your refrigerator will smell fresh one you clean it with vanilla extract. Take fresh cotton balls and soak them in vanilla extract and then place the cotton balls inside the refrigerator.

Orange: Once the source of the odor is located, you can use some oranges to eliminate the lingering odor. Slice the oranges and then put them in the refrigerator. Oranges will eliminate the odor of almost anything.

Preventive tips

  1. Always keep foods in airtight containers before storing them in the refrigerator. This is one of the best ways to keep food items fresh for longer time.
  2. To prevent bad odor, try to check your refrigerator once in a week and then remove all the expired food items.
  3. In case you need to switch off the refrigerator for a period of time, then you need to clean it thoroughly and remove all food and keep the door slightly open.

These methods of getting rid of odors are very easy and inexpensive. To know more about such easy and simple tips, check

You can also check this video for more information:

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To conclude, with the above mentioned tips you can make your refrigerator smell nice and there will be no need to put your hand on your nose next time when you open the door of your refrigerator.


  1. Mrs Ng

    August 12, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Due to power failure whilst we were on holiday, rotten food has left a bad smell in freezer compartment as well as fridge side. unable to find drip tray. is there a drip tray in every fridge???? sorry to sound so stupid but we do not have a manual for this fridge. Thanks

    • jane

      September 7, 2013 at 2:04 am

      I’m having the same troble I can’t find mine either

  2. Paul

    December 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    My situation is somewhat unique. I am a Maintenance Man for a Property Mgmt. company. We had to evict a tenant only to find out she had not paid her power bill. So the food, that being all types of meat, fish, chicken…you name it, was left to mother nature to do what she does best and decompose the leftovers over approx. a 3 week time period!!!. Well, there were maggots throughout, and the smell was almost something you could see let alone smell. I had to wash my closths 3 times after the clean up. Been at this a long time and NEVER have I seen or smelled anything like that. Needless to say I am having a heck of a time getting the smell out. I would have just replaced the fridge however it is a nice new 10 month old unit. I have used all the methods describe here with many variations. Nothing has worked. I am at a loss. Anyone have any other advice that I haven’t tried? Likely not I am sure but I wanted to share anyway. Maybe this is more like therapy than anything else. It was almost traumatizing having to endure that clean up…lol. Thanks for listening. Frustrated me.

    • G & T

      January 7, 2017 at 7:21 am

      Your story sounds like us exactly except we went on holiday and came home to 2 fridges that had been off for a long while. Like 2-3 weeks. We have pulled one to pieces under the instructions of a refrigeration electrician washed it all and put it back together. He tested it before we turned it back on. We have tried everything and it still stinks!
      We haven’t started the second fridge except to remove the decomposed food and give it a quick clean. That’s tomorrow’s job.

  3. esther

    May 15, 2015 at 11:20 am


    We leave in student residence and we have two fridges and it’s smell really bad. We’ve already clean the fridges but the smell is still there.

    Thank you for your help!

    • ellen

      September 19, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Have you tried washing with a very strong solution of bleach water. Had a similar situation and eventually 6-9 months it did go away. It was torture until. I have a situation now where someone used a plug in room freshener and the scent has absorbed into the inside of frig and all the food and ice taste like the scent. I guess you could do that guarantee the odor will be different but not a cure just a trade off. Just sit the air plug inside the frig it permeates everything.

  4. James

    May 21, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    try putting jik in an open container and place it in the fridge. let it stay there for a couple of days while the frigde is on. works wonders

    • Laurie Hanks

      October 18, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      What is jik. I’m desperate!

  5. Maranda

    January 18, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    some friends of mine had a refrigerator they were going to throw away still in good working condition. anyhow when I went to get it they forgot to discard the remaining food from it, (note they were throwing in away) anyhow I have used baking soda and have bleached it out numerous times and it still has the odor. What can I do to get the odor out besides baking soda because its not working

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