Getting Rid of Refrigerator Odors


There is an awful smell coming from my refrigerator! I've cleaned the food out; scrubbed it out with bleach and even put some coffee grounds inside the frig to absorb the odor. Nothing works! I don't think the model has a drip pan as I don't see it under the frig. Anyone have any ideas as to what else I can do?

By Melissa


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By Chrissie 1 01/07/2011

Take the fridge out and look underneath it, there may be a dead mouse in the motor. They love the warmth of stoves & fridges. Same goes for beds too!

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By Melanie Jackson 1 373 01/08/2011

After you find the source of the odor, get some oranges, slice them up, and put them in the fridge. Oranges will eliminate the odor of almost anything. I just used some today, in fact. Always have oranges on hand, because you never know when you'll burn something while cooking, etc., and need a really good air freshener.

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By Joanne 33 01/08/2011

This happened to me too. I absolutely couldn't find the source of the smell. But I noticed the smell began when my boyfriend went to visit his sister for a couple weeks. Apparently, I open the fridge a lot less than he does, and because the fridge door wasn't constantly being opened, whatever slight food odors there were just stayed in the fridge. When he returned home, the odors went away because he was back to the bad habit of standing at the fridge with the door open (and giving the fridge a chance to exchange fresh air).

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By Roopa Chandrasekhar 2 21 01/08/2011

After you clean out the fridge, fill a cup with baking soda and leave it in the fridge. the smell will go away. you can leave the cup there permanently, just ensure it doesn't touch any other food items. best to put it on the bottom most shelf at the back so it wont spill on anything else. i have been doing this for over a year now, and it works.

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By Sharon 9 116 01/08/2011

Does you fridge have a drip tray? You might try moving the fridge and see if something is under it.

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By DEBY 18 145 01/10/2011

Are you sure maybe a mouse didn't die under your fridge?

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By Elaina Monteiro 1 8 01/11/2011

My husband is a retired appliance repair man and, please don't freak, but you probably have a dead mouse caught around the fan blade or defrost motor. Take the front and or back panel off and look around the inside of motor with a flash light. This is common even in the most expensive of homes! Mice just want to be warm, too.

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Here are questions related to Getting Rid of Refrigerator Odors.

Question: Removing Persistent Odour in Fridge

I have a persistent odour in my fridge. I have cleaned it top to bottom and it still seems to be there. Can I put any cleaning products down the drain inside the fridge, as it looks "gunky"?

By Pauline from Dunfermline, Fife

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Use a bottle brush (like the ones available for baby bottles) to clean the drain area and pull the drain pan out from underneath the fridge and wash it. To remove the pan from underneath the fridge just pull the grate on the bottom of the front of the refrigerator off and slide the pan out.

Personally I wouldn't use any kind of chemicals to clean any refrigerator parts; only vinegar. Also, it wouldn't hurt to keep an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator in the future to help absorb odors. I keep mine in a back corner on the shelf above the vegetable crisper.

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Question: Getting Rid of Refrigerator Odors

How do you remove odors from a refrigerator?

By Roger

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By metroplex 82 416 09/16/2010

I had a fish smell in my fridge and used crumpled up newspapers all through it. I changed it a few times until it went away. But I did wash my fridge first. Also try baking soda, I just devote one box for my freezer and one for the fridge. I just keep changing the box out for a fresh one when I clean the fridge. Or activated charcoal, which I've never bought but have heard that it's the kind of charcoal used for fish tank filters. I got the newspaper hint from this site.
Good luck!

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Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.

Archive: Refrigerator Odors

I'm looking for some magical remedy to get rid of a horrendous smell that permeated our "new" refrigerator while it was in the garage, courtesy of the previous homeowners. It sort of smells like gasoline, but sort of not; I don't know how to label this smell.

I've tried vinegar, baking soda, the blue stuff in the container (odor sponge or some such), even a crystal that is supposed to remove "your worst smells". Well, nothing's doing it, and every time the fridge or freezer is opened, well, there it is again.

Any suggestions? Thanks!


RE: Refrigerator Odors

Be sure the drip pan is clean, then stuff the fridge with crumpled newspapers. The paper should absorb most of the offending odor. My bil is an appliance guy and this is his fav remedy for fridge odors. Depending on how persistent the odor is, you may have to replace the paper several times over a few days. (05/30/2005)

By beanygurl

RE: Refrigerator Odors

Try a apple cut in half. My granddaughter gave me this tip and it worked for me. (05/30/2005)

By Judy

RE: Refrigerator Odors

Try a bag of charcoal briquettes. They absorb most odors. Just put the briquettes in loose. Hope this helps. (05/30/2005)

By Tom

RE: Refrigerator Odors

Try cat litter. We once had a freezer full of meat that went bad when the power went out during a hurricane. I tried vinegar, Lysol, and Clorox, but nothing worked except the cat litter. I bought the cheapest kind and put several saucers full on the different shelves. After a few days of keeping the freezer closed the only odor that was left was the cat litter. We wiped down the whole interior, then left the door open for another day or so. It took several days, but the odor of rotten meat (Uck!) was gone. We used the freezer for about ten more years. Good luck! (05/30/2005)

By Margaret

RE: Refrigerator Odors

I use fresh coffee grounds for absorbing odors from many things from clothing stored which had gotten damp and mildewed, to a box trailer that was damp and the stuff in it had mildewed, it was a very strong odor. I made cloth bags and put fresh coffee grounds and hung them, but you could put them in an open container, maybe 1/2 cup to start. (05/30/2005)

By Anna from ME

RE: Refrigerator Odors

Have you tried just opening the doors and letting it run for awhile. This will bring fresh air into it to be circulated. I had a terrible smell in my fridge from broccoli left in it for too long. I finally took everything out and wiped everything down, but I let the fridge run while I was cleaning it. I think the fresh air circulating in it was the key. I didn't even have to clean out the freezer. (05/31/2005)

By Shirley M (IA)

RE: Refrigerator Odors

Use a solution of warm water and borax, it will freshen it up and make it super sparkly! (05/31/2005)

By Kimber1962

Peeled Raw Potato Removes Smell

If you have an odor in your fridge, put a raw, peeled potato inside to absorb the bad smell. Once it does, just toss out the potato.

By Terri (06/17/2005)

By ThriftyFun

RE: Refrigerator Odors

Try Fridge Odor Absorber - from IBAUSALLC.com Or call 805 565 2233 (10/19/2006)

By Andrew

RE: Refrigerator Odors

There is a product called FRIDGE IT odor absorber made just for this. It is a little purple cube with an activated carbon filter inside. I've tried lots of other products including baking soda and other products, but nothing works as well as this little purple cube. You can find it in kitchen gadget sections of stores like Walmart. Definitely worth trying. (02/07/2007)

By Jen

RE: Refrigerator Odors

I saw some others recommend a product called Fridge it. I too love this product. Works fantasticly because of the activated carbon filter. I've been using it for years in fridge and other places like under sinks and trash. Even have friends that use it on their diaper pail and other things. I usually just buy my supply of these on line at www.innofresh.com. The company is called innofresh products. (10/21/2008)

By kengie

RE: Refrigerator Odors

RE: Refrigerator Odors

We had a smell in our refrigerator so awful, that when the door opened, people all the way in the bedroom would be nauseated by the smell. I tried many of the different suggestions, including taking every shelf/part out and disinfecting the entire refrigerator. (Also tried the onions, potatoes, newspapers, cat litter w/ carbon, charcoal briskets). All those helped. So for small odor problems, I think anyone of those would be fine.

But the solution that helped me and was so much cheaper and easier to use, was "Fresh Air Activated Carbon Refills (8 pack)". It appears to be a replacement for some sort of portable air filter. (99 cents at a thrift store).

I only put two of the little pads in my refrigerator and within hours, the smell had dissipated to tolerable. By the next day, we thought maybe we had imagined the awful experience. It felt like a miracle!

The activated carbon in the filters is what does the trick, so I think any replacement filter that has the stuff will work.

Side note: While you're working on the smell, or shopping for something that has activated carbon in it, these two suggestions helped the most:

  • Crumpled newspaper - use it freely in your refrigerator, but change often. Take a wiff of the used paper after just a couple of hours and you'll understand why. =)
  • Fabric softener and water - heat in a small crock pot or on the stove in a small sauce pan, water and a little fabric softener. Just keep adding water when it runs down. 1/4 cup of softener worked for days. (04/30/2010)

By Lady Dozen

Archive: Refrigerator Odors

My smelly fridge, has been wiped with soda powder, but still smells. I need help coming up with something more to do.

By Anne

RE: Refrigerator Odors

Baking soda doesn't work very well for odors, despite the hype. My answer for everything: oranges! I've salvaged a fridge that was nearly ruined, by cutting up oranges and leaving them inside it until the odors were gone. Oranges will get rid of just about anything, from burnt food smells in a kitchen, to chemical odors. (10/22/2010)

By WildIrish

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