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HOW TO GET RID OF REFRIGERATOR SMELLS

If you've ever been greeted with an unpleasant smell once you open your refrigerator, you know how important it is to keep it clean and fresh. Whether it's the lingering smell of expired food or old produce stains, refrigerator smells can be tough to remove. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help eliminate those unpleasant odors and prevent them from coming back. In this article, you’ll find tips and tricks that demonstrate how to get rid of refrigerator smells to help keep your fridge smelling clean and fresh throughout the year.

Person removing item from KitchenAid® refrigerator Person removing item from KitchenAid® refrigerator

WHY DOES MY REFRIGERATOR SMELL?

The first step to refrigerator smell removal is determining its origin. A smell coming from your refrigerator can have a number of causes including bacteria and mold, spills under the fridge, food odors, expired foods, leaking containers and more.

Person removing produce from KitchenAid® refrigerator Person removing produce from KitchenAid® refrigerator

HOW TO HELP REMOVE SMELLS AND DEODORIZE A REFRIGERATOR

Removing unpleasant smells from your refrigerator may seem like a daunting task, but with a few simple steps, it's easier than you might think. From cleaning the fridge to using natural deodorizers, you’ll have a step-by-step walk-through to getting rid of those stubborn odors once and for all.

SUPPLIES 
  • Dish soap

  • Warm water

  • Baking soda, if necessary

  • Vinegar, if necessary

  • Newspaper, if necessary

  • Cooking vanilla, if necessary

TOOLS
  • Wash cloth

  • Clean towel

Person removing items from the door of a refrigerator Person removing items from the door of a refrigerator

CLEAN THE FRIDGE

The first step in refrigerator odor removal is to clean the fridge thoroughly. Take out all the food items from the fridge, as well as any removable drawers and shelves and wipe down the interior with a mixture of warm water and dish soap. You’ll also want to wipe down those removable pieces. Rinse with clean water and dry the interior with a clean towel. Do not wash refrigerator parts in the dishwasher.

USE BAKING SODA

After cleaning the fridge, place an open box of baking soda on one of the shelves. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and can help absorb any remaining smells.

CLEAN THE DRIP PAN

The drip pan at the bottom of the fridge can collect food particles and liquids over time, which can lead to odors. To clean the drip pan, remove it from the fridge and wash it with warm water and dish soap. Rinse thoroughly and dry before putting it back in the fridge.

Person filling water from refrigerator dispenser Person filling water from refrigerator dispenser

REPLACE THE WATER FILTER

If your fridge has a water filter that hasn’t been changed regularly, it may be the source of the smell. Replace the filter according to the manufacturer's instructions.

CHECK THE GASKET

The gasket around the fridge door can collect food particles and liquids over time, which can lead to odors. Wipe down the gasket with warm water and dish soap, and dry it thoroughly.

Person placing produce in a refrigerator Person placing produce in a refrigerator

USE VINEGAR

If the odor persists, try wiping down the interior of the fridge with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer and can help eliminate stubborn smells.

ADD NEWSPAPER

Take some newspaper and roll the pages in loose paper balls. Place a couple of newspaper balls on a paper plate. Add one drop of cooking vanilla to each one. Place one paper plate on each shelf in the refrigerator and freezer section. The newspaper can help to absorb unpleasant odors.

ADD ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

Place some activated charcoal in two paper bowls. Place one paper bowl inside the freezer compartment and another one in the refrigerator compartment. For very strong and stubborn odors, multiple bowls can be added to each compartment.

Refrigerator open to show contents Refrigerator open to show contents

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DEODORIZE A FRIDGE?

The length of time it will take to deodorize your fridge depends on the cause of the smell and your method for eliminating it. The baking soda method can take about three days to eliminate refrigerator odors, while cleaning your fridge of spills or spoiled food could remove the odors immediately.

One side of french door refrigerator open One side of french door refrigerator open

IS VINEGAR OR BAKING SODA BETTER FOR DEODORIZING?

Both vinegar and baking soda are effective natural deodorizers for a refrigerator. Your method of choice may depend on the type of odor you are trying to eliminate.

For mild odors, such as those caused by spilled milk or food, baking soda may be more effective as it can absorb and neutralize the odors. Simply place an open box of baking soda on one of the shelves in the refrigerator, and it will absorb the odors over time. You can also create a paste with baking soda and water and use it to scrub the interior of the fridge.

For strong or lingering odors, such as those caused by spoiled food, vinegar may be more effective. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and use it to clean the interior of the fridge. The acidic properties of vinegar can help neutralize and eliminate the odor.

Person cooking at a KitchenAid® range Person cooking at a KitchenAid® range

DOES A LEMON GET RID OF A SMELLY FRIDGE?

You can use lemons to neutralize fridge odors. After cleaning the source of the smell, wipe the shelves with lemon juice on a towel. You can also slice a lemon and place the slices in a bowl, leaving them in the fridge for a few hours or up to a week for maximum absorption.

Person prepping ingredients in front of a refrigerator Person prepping ingredients in front of a refrigerator

HOW CAN I KEEP MY FRIDGE SMELLING FRESH?

Consider the following tips to help keep your fridge smelling fresh: ​​

  • Keep foods tightly wrapped or covered. This also helps to prevent food from drying out.

  • Wipe spills up immediately.

  • Clean all sections about once a month.

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer well-organized, including crisper drawers. By keeping your foods easily accessible and within reach, you can better manage their freshness levels and you are less likely to forget about foods that should be discarded.

  • Select KitchenAid® refrigerators are equipped with the FreshChill™ Temperature-Controlled Drawer. This feature allows you to customize and maintain the freshness of your ingredients and gives you control over the amount of air that enters the drawer.

  • Select KitchenAid® refrigerators include a Preserva® Food Care System with two independent cooling systems that provide a dedicated refrigeration unit to help keep food fresh longer, and a separate system for frozen food.

  • Discard any spoiled or rotten food.

  • Routinely clean under the refrigerator, removing any dirt or items that may be trapped. 

  • Select KitchenAid® models come with an air filter which is 15 times more powerful than baking soda at reducing common food odors inside the refrigerator. If your refrigerator has an air filter, regularly replace the filter based on the indicator tab.

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EXPLORE KITCHENAID® REFRIGERATORS

If it’s time for a kitchen refresh, look no further than refrigerators from KitchenAid brand. Explore built-in, freestanding and specialty KitchenAid® refrigerators—each equipped with innovations and high-end details crafted for your style and preferences. Features like the Preserva® Food Care System and the FreshChill Temperature-Controlled Drawer on select models can help keep your fridge smelling good and your food tasting fresh. 

 

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