How To Deodorize a Refrigerator? (Updated)

Refrigerators are an essential food preservation appliance that people often spend hundreds to even thousands of dollars to purchase. Yet, homeowners often tend to forget about what they have in their refrigerator until the day that they open the door and a horrible, rank odor emanates from the inside.

However, apart from being momentarily unpleasant, a bad odor in your refrigerator can also prove a health and safety issue. Moreover, even if the bad odor source is a rotting food item that forgot was in there, removing it from your refrigerator will not get rid of the repugnant smell.

If you want to deodorize your refrigerator, you will have to try one or more of the following:

Start By Removing The Source Of The Bad Odor

As mentioned, removing the odor source will not solve your problem, but the smell inside your refrigerator will remain or keep returning unless you remove it. Scour through your refrigerator and look for any food items that have expired or leftovers that are more than a week old.

Toss out anything that has a foul smell or mold. It is also possible that fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator’s produce drawer may have rotted.

Cleanse & Disinfect Your Refrigerator
Once you have gotten rid of the source of bad odor in your refrigerator, next, you will have to do the same with the foul smell as well. The odor of rotted food, especially if it ended up leaking, can pervade and spread throughout every inch of your refrigerator.

Many refrigerators have many drawers and shelves where food debris can get trapped, which will have to be removed, and then those areas will have to be cleaned.

Fridge cleaning
Fridge cleaning

Please remove all of the food items from your refrigerator and place them in a cooler containing ice. Use a mixture of soapy hot water to scrub the shelves after taking them out. Next, use a mixture of 1 gallon of water containing 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach to disinfect them. Similarly, cleanse and disinfect the ceiling, floor, and walls of your refrigerator.

Make sure that you also cleanse and disinfect the counter-height center drawer in your refrigerator. Once you have dried your refrigerator’s interior using a towel, you can then place the drawers and shelves and food items that you had taken out back inside.

If your refrigerator has a deodorizer cartridge built into it, you will have to clean it too because it is there to absorb smells, and it may have absorbed the foul odor. The cartridge will have to be removed and then soaked in a bowl containing warm water for a few hours or so. Before you place the cartridge back in the refrigerator, make sure you let it dry outside for at least eight hours.

However, even doing all of the above may not necessarily rid your refrigerator of the bad odor circulating within it. If the interior of your refrigerator still smells foul, you may try using the following odor removers:

Activated Charcoal
Place a couple of shallow bowls or baking sheets containing activated charcoal inside your refrigerator, each on a different shelf. Lower the temperature of your refrigerator, and do not open your refrigerator for a couple of days. Within the next few days, the foul odor inside your refrigerator will be gone.

You can buy activated charcoal from drugstores or pet stores. You can even refresh activated charcoal for repeated use by placing it in the oven for twenty minutes at a temperature of 350ºF/180ºC.

Deodorize fridge
Deodorize fridge

Baking Soda
Place a baking sheet containing an entire box of baking soda inside your refrigerator. Do not open your refrigerator for at least 24 hours so that the odor may completely dissipate, after which you can throw away the baking soda. Baking soda can also prove to be particularly effective in helping get rid of everyday odors.

In fact, it is even better if your refrigerator always has an open box of baking soda inside it. You can even use a mix of water containing half a cup of baking soda to clean the interior of your refrigerator.

Coffee Grounds
Much like activated charcoal, you may also place a couple of shallow bowls or baking sheets containing coffee grounds inside your refrigerator, each on a different shelf. Similarly, it will take a couple of days for your refrigerator to become odor-free and during that period, avoid opening your refrigerator.

Use a cotton ball to dab some lemon juice onto it and then place it inside your refrigerator, letting it stay there for a couple of hours, after which the bad odor will be gone.


Oats can also help deodorize your refrigerator by absorbing or sucking the foul smell into themselves. Just leave a bowl of oats inside for a couple of days and then dispose of them once your refrigerator no longer smells bad.

Much like the baking side, bad odors in the refrigerator can also be neutralized using white vinegar. Place a bowl or cup in your refrigerator containing vinegar in your refrigerator and let it stay inside until it is free of the bad smell. Again, like baking soda, you can also use vinegar mixed in water as a cleaning solution.

If you realize that you can remove odd bits of food items from your refrigerator because they are stuck in there, you should consider using WD-40. Once a small amount of WD-40 has been sprayed onto the resistant spots, a rag or sponge can wipe them away. Make sure you wash the inside of your refrigerator before placing food items back inside.


No doubt, rotting food items are indeed the primary source of bad odor inside a refrigerator, and just about all the above methods should work to get rid of the foul smell. However, the lack of proper maintenance and servicing could be another reason your refrigerator smells bad.

In this case, there is not much you can do except call in a refrigerator servicing professional. If you are in Singapore, you contact a company that will provide 100% dependable, guaranteed, proven, and trusted service.

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