Cleaning Guides

Stinky Fridge? How to Get Rid of Smells in the Fridge

It’s safe to say that no one likes it when their fridge smells nasty. Having a clean, nice-smelling fridge is important to our health and the quality of our food. So, if you’re dealing with a stinky fridge, you’ll need to take care of it as soon as possible.

Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this post, we will teach you what the different odours mean and how to get rid of bad smells in the fridge.

Table of Contents:

So, if you:

  • Are having issues with a smelly fridge;
  • Want to know how to remove the smell;
  • Are looking for ways to keep your fridge fresh,

Then look no further! We have the solution.

Why does my fridge smell?

There are many reasons why you might be dealing with a smelly fridge. Bacteria and mould thrive in damp conditions, and a fridge certainly provides them. Not to mention what happens if you forget your veggies or leftovers in there for a while. Plastic absorbs odours. After some time, you’ll really start to notice the presence of bacteria through the smell.

So, here are some of the common fridge smells and what they mean:

  • Ammonia or other strong chemicals.
    If you notice that your fridge smells like ammonia, it means it’s leaking gasses. These can be very harmful to your health, so leave the property and call in a technician immediately.
  • Burning.
    If you sense a burning smell, it’s most likely your fridge’s condenser coils. Clean them from all dust and debris.
  • Fish.
    If you notice a fishy smell and haven’t left last night’s haddock in there, that means there’s probably an issue with the fan, compressor, or another electrical fault. Call in a technician to see what the problem is.
  • Rotting food.
    This one is pretty self-explanatory. If your fridge emits the smell of mould or rotting food, then that would be where the issue lies. Clean out your fridge, throw away any spoiled food and give the insides a good wipe. Don’t forget to check if the drip pan is clogged, as that may be the problem, too.

How to remove smells from the fridge

If you’ve located the culprit behind your smelly fridge and it happens to be rotting food, there are a few ways you can deal with it. Here is how to get rid of smells in the fridge:

Clean the fridge

Start by giving your fridge a good clean. Take all the food out and put it in a cooler to keep it cold while you work. Thoroughly clean the walls, shelves, drawers and drip pan. After you’re done, dry the insides before putting your products back in. Cleaning the fridge should be part of your weekly kitchen cleaning checklist and is an important part of keeping your kitchen sanitary.

Use baking soda

Baking soda provides a good, porous surface to absorb any odours. This makes it very helpful when dealing with a smelly fridge.

Open a pack of baking soda and spread a good amount of it on a plate or baking sheet. This will increase the surface area, making it easier for smells to get absorbed.

Let the baking soda sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours. After the smell disappears, throw it away.

Use coffee grounds

Another option, if you want to save your bicarbonate of soda for baking, is to use coffee grounds. They are a good tool when it comes to dealing with nasty odours.

Spread freshly ground coffee on a plate or baking sheet. Let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours, or until the smell disappears.

The good thing about using coffee grounds is that after you’re done, you can save them for compost or mix them into the soil to fertilise your houseplants.

Use activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is probably the best way to deal with fridge smells. Using it is simple, too.

Fill a couple of cloth pouches with loose activated charcoal. Place the bags on different shelves and leave them in for 3-4 days. Try to open your fridge as little as possible during the process.

Use vinegar to deodorise the freezer

Vinegar is another household ingredient that helps battle nasty odours.

Boil 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts water in a pot. Pour the mixture into a heat-resistant bowl or glass and place it in the freezer. Let it sit there for 4-6 hours.

The smell of vinegar will disappear shortly and you’ll be left with an odourless freezer.

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How to keep the fridge smelling fresh

Now that you’ve managed to remove the smell from the fridge, keeping it smelling great is what you need to focus on. Here are a few ways you can manage that:

  • Regularly clean out any food past its expiration date. Keep your fresh food in a visible place so you don’t forget about it when it starts going bad.
  • Keep leftovers in airtight containers. This will keep it from being contaminated and spreading additional smells around your fridge.
  • Keep a box of baking soda at the back of the fridge on the top shelf. That way it will soak up any odours.
  • Place lemon slices on a plate and leave them in the fridge every once in a while. This will emit a nice citrus scent.
  • If citrus smells are not your thing, you can place a bowl with cotton balls dipped in vanilla extract in your fridge. This will make it smell pleasant and sweet.

No time to clean your fridge?

We all have our personal reasons for skipping the regular fridge clean-up, but adding extra efforts to make the your fridge look better will save you the hassle (and costs) of potential fridge repairs. If you simply don’t have the time to clean a smelly fridge, why not let the professionals help?

The experienced and reliable cleaners at Fantastic Services can take care of your fridge and any other parts of your kitchen you want to be cleaned. Save time to do the things you enjoy – let us handle the dirty work!

Need a cleaner?

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  • If your fridge smells like ammonia, leave the house and call a technician immediately.
  • Start by cleaning out your fridge and disposing of any spoiled food.
  • Baking soda is a good way to combat fridge smells.
  • Activated charcoal works wonders when it comes to a stinky fridge.
  • You can use lemon slices or cotton balls dipped in vanilla extract to give your fridge a nice scent.


Did you find this post useful? Did you manage to get the smell out of your fridge? Let us know in the comments below!

Image source: shutterstock / New Africa, shurkin_son

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