Have you ever had an unpleasant smell when you opened the refrigerator? They can show up randomly and surprise you as they may be lingering in there for days or even weeks.
But getting rid of these terrible smells is not as easy as throwing away one spoiled egg or cheese or wiping the food spills on the shelves.
Odors are often caused by power outages, unplugging the fridge for a long time or if food is preserved for longer than its shelf life in the refrigerator, it can cause a terrible smell.
Sometimes you can’t even get rid of those pungent smells even if you remove all the stuff and empty the fridge. It is an indication that your refrigerator needs a deep cleaning. So, take out the cleaning supplies, and let’s get to work.
To make sure that these bad odors don’t contaminate the fresh food, We have come up with ways you can get rid of bad and pungent odors from your refrigerator and keep it clean.
What usually causes bad refrigerator odors?
The major reason for bad odors usually is bacteria and molds. These dangerous microorganisms thrive in humid areas. The moisture can come from spilled food, steam from the refrigerator, and from outside moisture.
As soon as moisture penetrates, bacteria begin to multiply and start taking over as much area as possible.
Trying to organize food in the fridge evenly will help the fridge work and cool evenly in all the compartments. A terribly organized, dirty, and unclean refrigerator is always a home to these molds and bacteria.
How to get rid of refrigerator odors?
1. Empty It Out
First, you need to completely empty all the containers of the refrigerator and freezer. Store the perishables temporarily in the second fridge if you have one or make arrangements for storing them. (I would suggest pre-planning and keeping as low perishable food as you can the day before cleaning).
If the food is spoiled for some reason like a power outage, don’t take a risk and dispose of it immediately.
2. Thorough Wash
Remove shelves, baskets, containers, ice trays, and other loose items and wash them in warm soapy water in the sink. Let them air dry.
Now it’s time to deodorize the inside of the refrigerator. For that, you need to make a Deodorizing solution by mixing 1 cup baking soda with 3 to 3.5 liters of water.
Take a soft sponge or a clean cloth. Wipe the interior after dipping the sponge in the solution. Get to every corner and tough spot and give a good rub.
Don’t use abrasive cleaners and sponges as they can damage or scratch the interior of the fridge.
This is where patience is required. Unplug the refrigerator, leave the door open, and air it out for at least a few hours or a day.
If the refrigerator odor still persists, wash and wipe the interior with the baking soda solution again and air it out one more time.
For a pleasant scent, you can put naphthalene balls inside your fridge or put cotton balls soaked in vanilla in the refrigerator and freezer, close the doors and wait a couple of hours before rearranging stuff back again.
5. Clean the Evaporator
It’s possible that the refrigerator odor has spread throughout the evaporator coil and it still smells bad even after doing the baking soda procedure (the evaporator coil produces cool air in the fridge, which is usually located at the backside of the freezer).
- Remove the screws that secure the panel.
- Then disconnect the electronic control plug. Remove the panel and wash it.
- Use a spray bottle to apply warm soapy water to the evaporator coil. You will notice the dirty water coming off.
- Then use freshwater to spray again and clean it off.
- Let the coil air dry before you put it back again. (Check the user manual and manufacturer’s instructions before doing this for specific instructions).
How to keep your refrigerator fresh and away from odors?
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda is ideal for absorbing unpleasant smells, It has odor-removing and cleaning qualities.
- Fill a bowl with only baking soda.
- Put that in the refrigerator as well as the freezer and close the door.
- Let it sit for 2 – 3 hours.
- You can also sprinkle the baking soda over the shelves and leave it there along with the bowl.
- After that, thoroughly wipe down the baking soda using a damp cloth and remove the bowl.
- As a result, you will see that the pungent smell is no longer there.
2. Use Airtight Containers to store food inside your fridge
Foods containing high protein content usually are the culprit for the pungent smell inside your refrigerator. However, recently stored food is not always an issue.
Food can be easily pushed back as you add more and more stuff and eventually forget that you had kept some perishable items which will disintegrate and get spoiled.
- Airtight containers are always a good investment
- Use these containers to organize food in your fridge. You can also label these containers to keep in mind what food goes into what container.
- You can also write expiration dates on labels to prevent spoiling food.
3. Refresh your refrigerator with lemons
Citric acid is best for freshening the refrigerator. Along with a pleasant scent, it has cleaning and refreshing properties.
- Dip some cotton balls in lemon juice.
- Wipe the interior and shelves.
- You can place few slices of lemon on the shelves and each compartment of the fridge and watch it soak up those bad odors away
4. Make sure the temperature is correct
Appropriate temperature is really important in refrigerators. If it’s warm/ not cool enough, it will encourage mold growth and food will get ruined really soon.
Typically the temperature in the fridge should be between 3 to 5°C (37 to 41°F) and in the freezer, it should be between -18 to -16 °C (-0.4 to 3.2 °F)
5. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is very easily available in the market. Spread the activated charcoal on the bottom of the cookie sheet. Leave it inside the refrigerator for a few days until the smell disappears.
6. Weekly Evaluation
One easy thing you can do is keep in check what you put inside your refrigerator and freezer to avoid bad odors which are caused by spoiled food. Evaluate your fridge on a weekly basis.
Replacing the Refrigerator Air Filter
When the refrigerator deep cleaning is complete, it is best to use this chance to replace the air filter as well. The air which circulates inside the refrigerator is passed through the air filter.
Why is a refrigerator air filter important? Because it catches the bad odors from rotten food and keeps the air fresh inside.
The refrigerator circulates air through the refrigerator filter. The air filter catches the smell of rotten food and keeps the air inside the refrigerator fresh and clean. Replacing the air filter is a really easy task. To do so,
- Buy a new air filter that matches your refrigerator’s model.
- Unplug and find the location of the refrigerator air filter. (Check user manual)
- Replace the old filter with a new one and press the reset button.
- Some refrigerators have air filter monitors which will tell you when to replace it, otherwise, try replacing the refrigerator air filter every 6 to 8 months.