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How To Get Rid of Odor and Smell In Refrigerator

Updated on April 18, 2013

How to Remove Refrigerator Odor

Refrigerator odor is a problem that most people have faced at one time or another. Your refrigerator smells bad. It may have been caused by a power outage from a storm or some other outage. Or it may simply be due to leaving food inside your refrigerator for too long. The question is "How to remove refrigerator odor?"

Odor can remain even after the power has been restored and spoiled food has been removed. A thorough cleaning and the following tips should solve most problems.

Step 1. Preparation

  • Unplug your refrigerator.
  • Remove all contents.
  • Remove all interior parts.

Step 2. Clean Interior

  • Prepare a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart warm water.
  • Wash the interior thoroughly.
  • Rinse and wipe dry.
  • Leave door open and let refrigerator air out for 1-2 hours.
  • If possible, aim a house fan at the interior and leave house windows open to promote circulation.

Step 3. Clean Removable Parts

  • Thoroughly wash the removable parts in a solution of warm water and liquid dish detergent. Some household cleaners, especially abrasive ones, can damage plastics.
  • Do not put glass or plastic parts in hot water. Hot water may cause them to crack or soften.

Step 4. Clean Freezer Compartment

  • Clean the freezer compartment according to the instructions that came with your refrigerator. If you don't have the manual, you should be able to find one online.

What To Do If The Odor Remains

Try one or all of these next 6 ideas.

1. Spread Baking Soda On Shallow Pans

  • Unplug the refrigerator.
  • Spread baking soda on shallow pan.
  • Place pans on the empty shelves to absorb odors.
  • Leave door open.
  • Wait 4 hours.
  • Repeat if necessary.

2. Spread Activated Carbon On Shallow Pans

Activated Carbon (also called Activated Charcoal) can normally be found at pet stores (usually in the agaurium supplies section), large department stores (usually in the housewares section) and appliance stores.

  • Spread Activated Carbon/Activated Charcoal on shallow pans.
  • Place pans on the empty shelves to absorb odors.
  • Leave door closed.
  • Run at low temperature (empty) for 3 days.

3. Spread Cat Litter On Shallow Pans

  • Use same method as for Activated Carbon.

4. Imitation Vanilla (Not Pure Extract) Poured Into A Saucer

  • Use same method as for Activated Carbon.

5. Pack Each Shelf Of Empty Refrigerator With Crumpled Newspaper

  • Set a cup of water on the top shelf, or sprinkle the newspaper lightly with water.
  • Run at low temperature for 5-6 days

This method takes longer but has been proven to be effective.

6. Use A Commercial Odor Remover

  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly.
  • Two popular brands are Odors Away and SmellsBegone.

What Do I Do If None Of The Above Ideas Have Worked?

  • If none of the suggested ideas have worked, the odor has most likely penetrated the insulation.
  • You can contact an appliance repair company to obtain an estimate for liner and insulation replacement.
  • However, experts suggest that a new refrigerator may be a better choice.


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    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Handy hints thanks, now I know what to do!


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