How to Deodorize a Fridge

We’ve all opened the refrigerator door and been hit with an unexpected, overpowering stench. Even after tossing out spoiled food or wiping up spills, foul odors can linger for days or weeks. Getting rid of these revolting smells takes more than just removing the obvious culprits. To banish stubborn fridge funk, it’s time to break out the cleaning supplies and give your refrigerator a deep clean.

But why is deep cleaning so important for eliminating odors? Refrigerators provide the ideal damp, enclosed environment for mold, bacteria and odors to thrive. Food spills allow microbes to multiply, releasing stinky byproducts. Absorptive plastic walls trap these smells over time. A thorough scrubbing kills odor sources, removes residues and refreshes the interior.

The first step is to empty the fridge and discard any expired or questionable foods. Next, wash removable parts and shelves in warm, soapy water, rinse and dry completely. For the interior, mix a solution of equal parts vinegar and water to disinfect and deodorize. Spray walls, allowing it to sit briefly before wiping down. Baking soda or activated charcoal can also absorb lingering odors. Regular deep cleaning keeps your refrigerator fresh and your food safe.

What Causes Fridge Odors?

Before delving into the specifics, let’s unravel the intricacies of the how and why behind the pervasive issue of unpleasant odors in your refrigerator. The culprits behind these lingering smells are molecules emanating from what we’ll casually refer to as “stuff,” released by your stored food items and wafting through the air within the confines of that compact, enclosed space. When you swing open the refrigerator door, these molecules make their way into your olfactory system, activating receptors that prompt an instinctive “ew” reaction.

To offer a vivid analogy, envision these troublesome odor molecules as ships meandering aimlessly across the sea within your fridge, desperately seeking a harbor. The smooth walls of the fridge, by default, lack adequate docking points for these metaphorical ships. However, your nose, equipped with receptors, serves as an excellent port. Your objective, therefore, is to create a haven for these olfactory “boats” to dock before they manage to reach your nasal receptors.

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Why Is Deep Cleaning Important For Your Fridge And Your Health?

Ensuring a clean and sanitized environment is the initial and crucial step toward a healthy lifestyle. A key aspect of maintaining a healthy diet and good shape involves keeping essential appliances, such as your refrigerator, in pristine condition.

The refrigerator is a constant companion for preserving fruits, vegetables, cooked meals, and various sauces, emphasizing the need for a deep cleaning every two months. Regular maintenance not only sustains food freshness but is also instrumental in preventing foodborne infections like food poisoning.

Stockpiling groceries without consuming existing items can lead to the decay of old produce and spills, creating an environment conducive to bacterial growth. Given that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and the refrigerator serves as its backbone, diligent maintenance is crucial.

Tips for a Cleaner and Healthier Refrigerator:

  • Regularly check and discard items nearing expiry.
  • Avoid overcrowding to facilitate proper air circulation.
  • Promptly address spills to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Monitor temperature and humidity controls for optimal storage conditions.
  • Don’t overlook the importance of maintaining the freezer section.

6 Hacks That You Can Try To Deodorize Your Refrigerator

Unpleasant odors in your refrigerator can be both frustrating and challenging to eliminate, potentially affecting the freshness of your stored food and the overall ambiance of your kitchen. Fear not, as there are six tried-and-tested hacks that go beyond the usual methods, promising to banish those lingering smells and leave your refrigerator smelling fresh and clean.

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Baking Soda

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Considered a stalwart in the battle against odors, baking soda’s prowess lies in its ability to neutralize malodorous food molecules effectively. It’s a versatile and powerful deodorizer.

  • Hack: Simply place an open container filled with baking soda inside your fridge. Allow it to sit for a minimum of 24 hours, during which time it will absorb and neutralize mild to moderate odors, including those from aging cheese or spilled milk.

Vanquish Smells With Vinegar

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White vinegar, thanks to its acetic acid content, can act as a potent weapon against both microorganisms and stubborn refrigerator odors.

  • Hack: Position a glass filled halfway with white vinegar near the source of the smell. As the vinegar evaporates, it not only neutralizes existing odors but also leaves behind a fresh, clean scent. For optimal results, replace the vinegar every few days.

Lemon In Your Fridge

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Leverage the natural freshness of lemons, which contain citrus acid, to breathe new life into your refrigerator’s interiors.

  • Hacks
    – Soak cotton balls in lemon juice and use them to wipe the insides of your refrigerator. The citrus juice not only aids in cleaning but also imparts a pleasant and refreshing aroma.
    – Place a couple of lemon slices on a plate and leave them to sit inside your fridge. This simple trick helps absorb unpleasant fragrances while introducing a delightful citrus scent.

Abolish Odors With Oatmeal

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Surprisingly effective, oatmeal is not just for breakfast—it can also be a natural solution for removing foul refrigerator odors.

  • Hack: Introduce an open container or an aluminum bowl filled with dry oats into your fridge. The oats will act as a natural neutralizer, effectively combating unwanted smells.

Coffee Can Solve A Latte Of Problems

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Beyond its role as a morning pick-me-up, coffee grounds can serve as a moderate fragrance and help minimize undesirable refrigerator odors.

  • Hacks

– Leave a bowl filled with coffee overnight inside your fridge. The coffee grounds will absorb odors, leaving behind a subtle coffee aroma.

– Distribute coffee beans on a baking sheet and leave them overnight in the fridge. This method not only absorbs unpleasant smells but also imparts a delightful coffee fragrance.

Activated Charcoal

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Known for its pure carbon content, activated charcoal, often used in fish tanks to purify water, can effectively catch, store, and neutralize stinky molecules in your refrigerator.

  • Hacks:

– Add one cup of activated charcoal to a bowl and place it in the area of the fridge where persistent odors linger. Be sure to replace the charcoal on a monthly basis for sustained efficacy.
– For a more intensive approach, place the charcoal in a bowl, lower the fridge temperature, and keep the door closed for three days. This method maximizes the absorption of odors and ensures a thoroughly fresh-smelling refrigerator.


  • Why does my fridge develop unpleasant odors? Unpleasant odors in the fridge can result from various factors, such as spoiled food, spills, or bacterial growth. Over time, these factors contribute to the formation of unwanted smells.
  • How often should I deodorize my fridge? Deodorizing your fridge should be a regular part of your cleaning routine. Aim to deodorize it every three to six months, or as needed, depending on the presence of strong odors.
  • What is the best way to remove lingering smells from the fridge? A combination of baking soda and activated charcoal is an effective natural deodorizer. Place an open box of baking soda or a bowl of activated charcoal inside the fridge to absorb and neutralize odors.
  • Can I use other substances to deodorize my fridge? Yes, you can use alternative natural deodorizers such as coffee grounds, sliced lemons, or white vinegar. These substances can help eliminate odors and leave your fridge smelling fresh.
  • How do I clean the interior of my fridge before deodorizing? Start by removing all food items, then clean surfaces with a mixture of mild soap and water. Wipe down shelves, drawers, and walls. Once dry, proceed with deodorizing.
  • Is it necessary to unplug the fridge while deodorizing it? It’s not necessary to unplug the fridge for routine deodorizing. However, if you’re performing a deep clean that involves removing shelves and drawers, it may be safer to unplug to conserve energy and ensure safety.
  • How can I prevent future odors in my fridge? To prevent odors, regularly check for expired or spoiled food items, keep raw meats in sealed containers, and promptly clean up spills. Maintain a clean and organized fridge to minimize the risk of unpleasant smells.
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8. Can I use commercial fridge deodorizers?

Yes, there are commercial fridge deodorizers available. Look for products specifically designed for refrigerators, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results.

In summary, persistent refrigerator odors stem from molecules released by stored food items. Deep cleaning is crucial not just for odor elimination but for overall health. Regular maintenance, including cleaning every two months, is vital to prevent bacterial growth. Tips for a cleaner fridge include discarding expired items, avoiding overcrowding, addressing spills promptly, and monitoring temperature controls.

For stubborn odors, effective hacks include using baking soda, white vinegar, lemon, oatmeal, coffee grounds, and activated charcoal. These hacks go beyond conventional methods, ensuring a fresh and clean-smelling refrigerator. Prioritizing regular maintenance and incorporating these deodorizing techniques contribute to a healthier kitchen environment.

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I'm Kelly Atkinson, with a passion for dissecting the world of home goods. My reviews stem from thorough testing and a love for sharing detailed insights. Each piece I write offers a glimpse into my explorative journey, aiming to guide readers to informed choices with authenticity and precision, making every review a blend of exploration and expertise.
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