Reasons and Solutions for a bad-smelling Refrigerator

Have you noticed any type of unusual smell coming from your refrigerator? Is the smell getting into your food or making it spoil faster? If your answer to the above questions is yes, then it should be a priority for you to fix it because bad food is always bad news. The bad smell inside your refrigerator can be due to a number of reasons such as a dirty refrigerator, overstuffing of food, spoilt food, etc. Fix the issue on time and it will save your food as well as your health. There are some very easy maintenance and organizing tricks that can help you in keeping the bad odor inside your refrigerator at bay. In this article today, we are going to discuss the reasons and solutions for a bad-smelling refrigerator in detail. 

Reasons behind bad smell from your refrigerator

overstuffed and poorly organized refrigerator
Image credit: Flickr

There is always a reason behind everything that happens inside your refrigerator, even for the bad smell coming from inside it. Let us see what are the reasons behind bad smells from your refrigerator in detail.

  1. Storing food without proper sealing: When you store food inside your refrigerator without proper sealing, its smell spreads throughout the unit. If this smell lasts for a long time, it creates a pungent smell which in turn fastens your food spoiling. So it is important to store your food in airtight containers and properly organized.
  2. Overstuffing food inside the refrigerator: Overstuffing food inside your refrigerator blocks the airflow and the refrigerator has to work harder to maintain an ideal temperature to keep your food fresh. Lack of required cooling for a long time causes the food to grow harmful bacteria and create a bad smell. Also, air blockage for long periods may lead to system breakdown sometimes. So, store only what you need and keep finishing the food stored first.
  3. Lack of refrigerator cleaning: Lack of cleaning leads to dirty surfaces and that leads to harmful results no matter what place or appliance it is. Keep your refrigerator clean and keep your food fresh for a longer period. It is important to clean every shelf and bin regularly to keep the inside of your refrigerator fresh and odorless. Make sure to clean the refrigerator with natural products like lemon or baking soda as the chemical cleaners may get absorbed into your food and cause harmful health issues. 
  4. Water accumulation inside drain tray: When you defrost your freezer, the defrosted ice goes into the drain pan of your refrigerator to prevent it from leaking inside. If you forget to regularly clean the drain pan, there is a risk of mold, germs, and bacterial growth which can result in a bad odor. The smell can get inside your refrigerator through the drain pipes that connect the inside of your refrigerator with the drain pan. So, make it a point to keep clean the pan at least once every three months for a fresh-smelling refrigerator and healthy food. 
  5. Food spoils and spills inside the refrigerator: Keeping food inside your refrigerator way past its expiration date may lead to spoilt food stored inside your refrigerator. Spoilt food creates bacteria and molds which generate a bad smell and thus a smelly refrigerator. Also whenever there is any food spill inside the refrigerator, make sure to clean it as soon as possible to prevent any lingering smell inside your refrigerator. 

Here are some refrigerator accessories recommendations for you:

  1. OUGAR8 Refrigerator Door Handle Covers Protective Electrical Kitchen Appliances
  2. Set Of 6 Refrigerator Organizer Bins
  3. Sorbus Fridge Bins and Freezer Bins Refrigerator Organizer Stackable Food Storage Containers
  4. AKINLY 9 Pack Refrigerator Mats, Washable Fridge Mats Liners
  5. Camco 28″ Double RV Refrigerator Bar
  6. HapiLeap Fridge Drawer Organizer, Unique Design Pull Out Bins
  7. Sooyee 2 Pack Covered Egg Holders for Refrigerator
  8. Refrigerator Deodorizer – Fridge and Freezer Odor Eliminator

How to get rid of the refrigerator smell?

Image credit:

Any unusual smell is always bad and when it comes from an appliance where you store your food, it is worse. There are some tips and ways that can help you in getting rid of your refrigerator smell, which are:

  1. Thoroughly clean the refrigerator: Whenever you start noticing any kind of bad smell coming from your refrigerator, the first step will be to clean the entire refrigerator thoroughly. Make sure to throw out any food or beverage that has expired. Use some natural all-purpose cleaner like baking soda or lemon, and wipe down the entire refrigerator with a damp cloth and then towel dry it. Remember to take out all the produce drawers and shelves before cleaning the refrigerator and wash or clean them separately. Also, make a point to clean the seals of your refrigerator. While deciding about which cleaner to use, remember that the food absorbs odors, therefore it is best to use mild unscented cleaners like the ones mentioned above. 
  2. Use odor remover: If a bad odor lingers inside the refrigerator even after cleaning, use some odor remover or deodorizer to get rid of the smell. To get rid of this, you can keep an open box of baking soda or cut a lemon in half and put it on a shelf inside. Some other ways to get rid of the bad smell are leaving coffee grounds on a plate inside the refrigerator, using activated charcoal, or leaving a cotton swab soaked in vanilla essential oil for a day. You can also use white vinegar to wipe down all the plastic parts, roll up the newspapers and leave them inside your refrigerator for 3-4 days without using it. 
  3. Store food in airtight containers and put use-by dates label on them: Every food has a certain smell, and it spreads into the entire refrigerator over time. It is best to keep your food stored in airtight containers to prevent its smell from spreading. Also, keeping your food in airtight containers will keep your food fresh for longer. When food is left inside the refrigerator for a long time, it creates a pungent smell and spreads inside your refrigerator. The best way to prevent this is to finish the food as per the storage date or time. You can label your food as per the date of expiry or as per the date of storage. This will help you in keeping track of which food needs to be finished or removed first to keep your refrigerator clean and fresh. 
  4. Keep fresh food in the front: While storing food inside your refrigerator, make it a point to store the fresh food in front so that they are easily visible all the time. Finish the fresh food as soon as possible so that they don’t go to waste.
  5. Make sure the temperature is correct: The temperature maintained inside your refrigerator is as important as the food storage in keeping your unit clean and fresh. If the temperature is too warm, it encourages microbial growth which can fasten the deterioration of your food. The ideal temperature inside a refrigerator is 4 to 5 degrees Celsius (37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit) while the ideal temperature inside a freezer is -18 to -17 degrees Celsius (0-4 degrees Fahrenheit). Nowadays, there are refrigerators with Microben antimicrobial technology in them which inhibits microbial growth and helps in tackling odor-causing bacteria. 
cleaning and organized refrigerator
Image Credits: IHA Vacation rentals


Any problem when not solved at the right time creates a more serious issue with more costs. Similarly, the bad smell coming from inside your refrigerator must be dealt with immediately and properly as it not only causes damage to your refrigerator but also to your health. So, it is compulsory to clean your refrigerator regularly and take care of all the reasons causing the bad smell. Understand the reasons and solutions for a bad-smelling refrigerator and keep your refrigerator and food fresh and healthy.

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