What Causes Your Fridge To Smell—And How To Remove The Odor

How to put an end to the stench

Which game am I never going to play? ” Locate that odor”. The end is never well, even more so when the source of the odor is your refrigerator. Working in a lab has been a huge part of my career. During that time, I have witnessed a few refrigerator disasters in my time. But every disaster I faced was an chance to try something new.

The Stench of microorganisms

The short answer is that bacteria and molds are responsible for the foul odors emanating from your refrigerator. These dangerous microbes thrive in moist environments. This moisture can come from spilled food, condensation from the refrigerator, or outside humidity. Once moisture is introduced, microbes begin to multiply and take over any space in which they can establish a foothold. When they reach a critical mass, their smell can be used to detect their presence.

You now understand what causes odors in your refrigerator, and knowledge is half the battle–but not the entire battle.

How to eliminate the odor

Let us begin with the simplest tasks and work our way down to the most time-consuming. We'll begin with something as simple as a wrist flick.

Step 1: Reduce the temperature

fridge temperature

Occasionally, simply lowering the temperature of your refrigerator will eliminate odors.

The simplest solution is probably to reduce the temperature. The ideal temperature range for your refrigerator is between 35°F and 37°F. If you live in an extremely humid climate, the recommended settings may not be sufficient to prevent moisture buildup.

If you don't already have a thermometer in your refrigerator, you can pick one up on Amazon for less than $10.

Step 2: Begin with the door and work your way out

fridge door shelf

When looking for spoiled food, begin with the items on the door.

As obvious as it may seem, people frequently overlook the fact that food left out in the open spoils the quickest. Thus, even if the expiration date is weeks away, milk, eggs, and other foodstuffs may already be a breeding ground for bacteria. Following the door, proceed to the back of the refrigerator, sniffing and peering at all your previous purchases.

Step 3: Enlist the aid of a chemical agent

vegetable shelf
Silica mats can assist produce in absorbing excess moisture.

Silica mats can help keep odors at bay by preventing produce from rotting prematurely. They're affordable (under $15 on Amazon) and compact enough to fit inside your crisper drawer.

Additionally, you can place a dish of something odor-absorbing on a shelf. While baking soda is probably the most common, coffee grounds and charcoal can also be used. If none of this works, it's time to attack the source.

Step 4: The deep cleaning

girl deep cleaning fridge
Moisture and grime congregate where plastic meets glass.

Oftentimes, the solution is as simple as a little elbow grease. If your refrigerator continues to smell after completing steps 1-3, it's time to begin cleaning it out. Purchase a cooler, fill it with all your food and ice, and begin cleaning.

Nowadays, many refrigerators feature spill-proof shelves. While they prevent minor spills from becoming major messes, the interface between the glass and the plastic is ideal for odor-causing bacteria to hide. I'd begin with these areas first, using your disinfectant of choice.

After The Clean

If the smell persists even after cleaning, it may be time to make that dreaded service call. The offensive odor could be coming from the drip pan beneath the refrigerator. Occasionally, a damaged or degraded water filter will emit odors. It could also be a clog in the refrigerator's drainage system. In either case, you should determine whether this is a serious problem.

Ready for a Deep Clean?  Call Us:

Dusty Maids Cleaning
2500 Wilcrest, Suite 300, Houston Tx 77042
Phone: +1 (832) 769-4077
Email: info@dustymaidscleaning.com