Stinky refrigerator? Here are a few tips to make it smell good again – and keep it that way.
Maybe it’s the garlic, or it may be the three-week-old salad that you forgot to throw out. Whatever it was, it made your refrigerator stinky. Removing the offending piece of food may be the most logical first step to solve this dilemma – but it may not be enough; certain smells can linger long in the fridge, and it can rub off to the other stuff inside. So, what are you to do?
Getting rid of refrigerator odors
Clean up and wipe down
To really clean your refrigerator, you have to unplug it and remove everything inside – yes, everything – this includes all the shelves and the drawers. Be on the look-out (and should I say a smell-out) for foods that are spoiling or rotting and throw them away. Give your fridge a thorough wiping down with a clean cloth and your preferred cleaning solution.
- Bleach diluted with water (never mix this with vinegar!)
- Water + Non-toxic hydrogen peroxide
- Water + baking soda + vinegar
- Water + Dish washing soap
Now that you’ve removed the source of the odor, it’s time to deal with the lingering smell. Our parents used to do solve this by placing a cup full of charcoal inside the fridge. That’s not just some old wives’ tale – the science behind it is this: since charcoals are porous, they act as natural filters that “suck” odors and trapping them within their pores.
Some refrigerators come with a built-in deodorizing filter that acts the same way, like LG’s Hygiene Fresh+ Filter. If yours is not equipped with one, then you should fill a bowl with any one of the following items and let it sit inside the fridge for at least 24 hours:
- Baking Soda
- Ground Coffee
- Dry Oats
Leave a fresh scent
Now that the bad lingering odor is gone, you can add a lovely, sweet-smelling scent to help keep your fridge smell fresh. An easy way to do this is to place a few peels of any citrus fruit with a few tablespoons of salt into a bowl; the salt will absorb bad odors while the citrus peel will leave a nice aroma lingering in your refrigerator.
Minimizing and preventing refrigerator odors
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Here are a few tips to prevent the bad odors from occurring in the first place.
Repackage leftovers and strong-smelling food
If your leftovers were packed using tin foil or left in their paper food container, you should transfer them to an airtight plastic container immediately to prevent the odors from mixing. This should also be done for strong-odored food like cheese and raw fish.
Maintain the right temperature and humidity
If your refrigerator is too warm, it can cause the bacteria in our food to become active and accelerate the process of spoilage. Your fridge temperature setting should be kept at 2–3°C to keep spoilage at bay. Also, don’t let it rise above 4°C as the bacterium Listeria (which causes foodborne illnesses) will have more chances to develop .
Some models of fridges also have a built-in humidity control function in the crisper drawer. These function by simply opening or closing a window in the drawer, with open being the low humidity setting and the closed being the high humidity setting.
To know which setting to choose when storing veggies and fruits in the crisper, a rule of thumb to follow is low humidity for vegetables and high humidity for fruits. Citrus fruits make an exception though, as they like a low-humidity environment better.
Choose a refrigerator with a deodorizer and/or an ionizer
Most brands equip their refrigerators with a built-in deodorizer to help deal with fridge odors. They can be made from activated carbon or from silver ions; either way, it will help prevent bad smells from lingering inside.
Some brands also equip their refrigerators with an ionizer that releases charged ions to attack and deactivate the viruses and bacteria that causes the odors. This also has the benefit of extending the shelf life of your food. Check out Sharp’s Plasmacluster Ion technology to know how they deal with viruses.
With these tips, you can easily deal with bad refrigerator odors and keep your fridge smelling nice and fresh. Always remember to clean out your fridge from time to time so the smell won’t build up and you’ll have an easier time dealing with your refrigerator’s odor problem.
PS: Check the drain pan at the lower back of the fridge. If left uncheck, it can develop molds that produce the bad odor. Unplug your fridge and take it out to wash it with any of the cleaning solutions listed above.
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.