Why does my fridge smell? How to cure a smelly fridge

The leading Causes of refrigerator smells

A common feature of most refrigerators is the drip pan. Located near the bottom of the appliance above the condenser coils its primary function is collecting any condensation released from the defrost drain of the freezer. If this is left untouched for a long period of time, the water collecting here will become dirty and stagnant. This can become a prime reproduction ground for mold, and may develop a nasty stench. Located near the lower extremity of the fridge, you will usually find a grill/kick panel sitting in front of the drip pan. Removing this panel will allow you to gain access to the pan. (You may require a flashlight in order to pinpoint its location) In most instances, you might require a strong cleaning fluid, even bleach, in order to clean and deodorize the drip pan. You must also clean out the drain hole to ensure that there are no food deposits or mineral residues blocking it.

Always make sure that food products that have gone past their recommended date of expiry are thrown away. There is nothing worse than rotten or decaying food causing an odor in fridge. It is important to make sure that any food items or leftovers are properly secured within the fridge to make sure that odors are not transferred. A minimum requirement is to make sure that they are tightly packed with aluminum foil or cling-wrap. Special care must be taken in the storage of dairy products such as milk and butter, which are notorious for absorbing the odors prevalent inside the fridge.

Be vigilant against spillage in the refrigerator. Even tiny spills have the nasty habit of seeping into hidden gaps and corners. In the event of a spill it is always recommended that you thoroughly clean out your fridge as soon as possible. Delaying any cleaning operation can lead to unwelcome surprises in the future.

The presence of mold or fungus should be considered a danger signal that your fridge requires urgent cleaning. Usually caused by the presence of rotting food, mold can spread quickly to other food items. Apart from the unpleasant smell caused, this is a definite health hazard.

Avoid over crowding your fridge. Congesting your fridge with unnecessary items is one of the primary causes of spills and leakages. It is also easy to overlook expired or decaying food products in such a scenario.

Recommended Steps to clean a refrigerator

  1. Discard all foods that have gone past their expiry date or appear to be leaking. Fresh foods should be transferred to a cooler that has been packed with ice to avoid spoilage.
  2. Carefully extract any removable doors and shelves from within your refrigerator. Do not apply hot water to any ceramic or glass parts as they may shatter. Allow these parts to reach room temperature first. 
  3. . Apply a mixture of a biological detergent and hot water to the interior surfaces of your fridge. Always start cleaning from the top, before working your way to the lower levels of the fridge. Hard to remove stains or deposits may be loosened with the use of a non-abrasive plastic scrubber or nylon scouring brush. Alternatively, you may place a cloth soaked in a hot, soapy mixture on the spot for a few minutes. Certain areas such as the back of the refrigerator and any gaps on the bottom surface require extra attention. These are places where spills tend to accumulate. Also make sure you clean the rubber gasket seal that runs along the lining of the door. Excessive dirt and grime build ups could cause breaks in the seal, which can seriously affect the cooling efficiency of your appliance. As a final step, rinse the interiors with clean water and a cloth to remove any detergent residues.
  4. Once the removed refrigerator shelves have reached a normal room temperature, they may be washed separately with detergent and hot water.
  5. With the help of a good-quality dry cloth you may proceed to the next stage of drying out all the interior surfaces of your refrigerator. 

You may now start transferring food items back to the fridge from your cooler. Make sure that any food containers being placed back in the fridge are completely dry and devoid of any sticky or crusty layer. Use a dry cloth to make sure these jars are as clean as possible.

If required you can turn your attention to the freezer using the same steps outlined above. Typically though, chances of food spillage in the freezer are far more remote. As a result, it may not require the same frequency of cleaning as the refrigerator. The outside of the refrigerator may be cleaned with a mixture of liquid dish soap and water. If your appliance has a stainless steel finish, avoid the use of abrasive cleaners.

Simple Tips that help getting rid of fridge smells

Baking Soda is probably the staple choice of most people to combat bad smells from fridge. A simple technique is to empty the contents of a baking soda box to a cookie/baking sheet. Place this sheet in the fridge and close the door. Leave in place until any odor in fridge is eliminated. You can also using baking soda as a preventive method to stop nasty smells developing. Simply keep a jar of baking soda in your refrigerator at all times. Just make sure that you replace this jar on a monthly basis.

You may also choose to use baking soda as cleaning solution in order to carry out a general clean up of your fridge. Simply dilute half a cup of baking soda with a gallon of water to create a deodorizing cleaning fluid.

If you are dealing with a particularly troublesome smell, you may use a combination of baking soda and vanilla extract. Create a paste by mixing in 2 tablespoons of vanilla essence with half a cup of baking soda in a shallow bowl. Place this mixture on the lowest shelf of your refrigerator and leave for a few days. The baking soda should absorb bad odors, while the vanilla extract adds a pleasant fragrance.

White vinegar is another common ingredient that may be found in most kitchens. It exhibits many of the cleaning and odor eliminating properties that are associated with baking soda. To eliminate unwanted fridge smells you can pour out a cup full of vinegar into an open dish or bowl and keep in the refrigerator. Similar to baking soda, it may be diluted with water to make an odor eliminating cleaning fluid.

Oats are another ingredient with odor absorption properties. You can leave an uncovered bowl with oats in your refrigerator to help eliminate unpleasant odors.

Coffee Grounds may also provide effective relief from bad refrigerator smells. Spread dry, fresh coffee grounds over baking paper or in an open bowl. This should be placed on different shelves inside the fridge for a few days in order to extract the maximum effect. While this method does not technically remove existing odors, the plastics within your refrigerator will absorb the coffee fragrance leaving a far more acceptable smell behind.

Activated charcoal is an easily accessible material commonly found at most local drugstores and pet stores. It is well known for its ability to absorb and neutralize almost any type of odor. Spread some charcoal briquettes across cookie sheets or a shallow bowl before placing it on a refrigerator shelf. Leave it inside the refrigerator for a few days at a low temperature setting. This should help getting rid of fridge smells. Charcoal that has been saturated due to the absorption of bad odors and moisture may be rejuvenated by heating in an oven for 20 minutes at 350 degree Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

Chlorophyll based non-scented cat litter can also prove to be an effective remedy for bad fridge smells. It may be spread across a shallow bowl and left in the fridge until all unwanted odors are eliminated.

A simple enough cleaning technique may be formulated by adding equal parts of peroxide solution with baking soda. The resultant paste may be spread across all the interior surfaces of the refrigerator. It should be allowed to rest for an hour, before wiping it off with a clean cloth and lukewarm water.






Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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