Removing That Smell From Your Fridge

Home Inspector with Prokore Inspections

There is nothing worse then having a horrible refrigerator odor...and trust me I know. Being a home inspector means you're in a number of houses over a given year and have the chance to take a look at many kitchen appliances and not all of them smell like roses! Many things can cause your refrigerator to have a bad smell such as leftovers, cut onions or garlic, mold, bacteria and mildew growth. If you don't work to eliminate the refrigerator odor quickly, it can change the taste of all the food you have in it, and it can become a very unhealthy situation. Ultimately, getting the smell under control is your main goal.

Avoiding Odors

  • Always keep baking soda in your refrigerator. Baking soda can absorb almost all smells and it is very easy to maintain, as you will only need to replace it every 3 months.
  • Make sure you have no expired food in your refrigerator. Food that is outdated can make you sick and also cause a foul smell that will ruin even your healthy food and can cause mold, bacteria and mildew.
  • Sanitize your refrigerator. Keeping it clean and sanitized will keep a lot of the smells away. Using bleach, and/or Lysol is the best way to sanitize.

Sometimes even after cleaning out the refrigerator you can still have a bad smell that just won't go away. One thing you will want to do after sanitizing the refrigerator is to then wash it again with water and baking soda. Make sure you're cleaning out the drip tray under the refrigerator, because it can cause a lot of the bad smell. There are a few other things that you can do for those stronger smells, with just some basic things you may have around the home to help out.

Removing Tough Odors

  • Take a pan and put a layer of baking soda in the bottom of it which opens the baking soda up. This should help it absorb odors better. 
  • Turning the refrigerator off and leaving the door open with the baking soda in it will also help air it out. You will need to have a way to store your food elsewhere while doing this.
  • Buy activated charcoal and lay it in a pan while running the refrigerator on low for a few days. This can also help eliminate the smell. Again, you will need somewhere else to store your food while doing this.
  • Try cat Litter in a pan and run the refrigerator on low for a few days to absorb the smell.
  • Take vanilla and put in a small dish and run the refrigerator for a few days.
  • Take fresh coffee grounds and leave them in the refrigerator for a few days.

If none of these common products removes the smell, the next step would be to get a commercial product to get the odors out. For the most part, one of these household items should take care of it and you should have a nice smelling refrigerator to store all of  your fresh foods again.


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Posted By: Randy King - Principal Inspector - Progressive Property Inspections

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Nancy Timberlake
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portland, ME
REALTOR - Southern Maine

Thanks!  I have come across a few of these really smeely fridges and it's always seems to be on a hot day.

Aug 24, 2010 04:33 AM #1
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Good tips here!    The "smell quotient" of a home is the major turn-off for buyers, I think.

Aug 24, 2010 05:41 AM #2
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