Skip to Content

13 Tips for Getting Bad Smells Out of Your Fridge

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details.

Perhaps you’re faced with a situation where you opened your fridge door and were greeted by a stinky, foul odor. The most common reason behind this is an electrical failure.

When the temperature inside the fridge is not sustained, it can cause the food and vegetables inside to spoil, thus resulting in a terrible, pungent smell.

 man closing nose because of bad smell from fridge

To resolve this, the very first thing you should do is to check if your fridge is plugged into the outlet. You will also need to clean your fridge to remove foods or items causing the bad-smelling odor.

Emptying the drip tray of your fridge will also help eliminate the smell. Since the temperature of the fridge is not equally distributed, you have to know which foods to keep in the right compartment.

Lastly, there are readily available items that you can use to get bad smells out of your fridge, such as lemon, oatmeal, coffee beans, and vinegar, which we’re going to talk about as we go through this article. Read on to know more about these!

13 Tips for Getting Bad Smells Out of Your Fridge

The most obvious way to eliminate a foul odor from your fridge is to clean it.

However, if you don’t have time, here are some tips and items you can use to remove bad smells from your fridge.

1. Put Baking Soda in a Bowl

We all know that baking soda is a popular cleaning agent. However, if you don’t have time to clean your fridge and want to remove the foul odor in the meantime, you can still use baking soda.

baking soda in a small plate and baking soda in a jar inside the fridge

Put baking soda in a bowl and allow it to sit in the corner of your fridge for a couple of hours. After that, you will notice that the foul odor is gone because this odor-absorbing powder absorbed it.

Not only is baking soda readily available, but it is also cheap.

2. Place Slices of Apple in Your Fridge

Apples can absorb the stinky and unpleasant odor in the fridge. If you put apple slices in the refrigerator, you will notice that the bad smell will go away.

Just make sure to replace the apple slices every two days.

3. Properly Store Your Leftovers

Close-up of containers of leftovers food on kitchen counter

Foods, especially leftovers, should be stored in airtight containers to ensure that their aromas won’t circulate inside the refrigerator and cause a stinky smell.

Investing in airtight containers is an excellent idea to avoid bad smells in your fridge and to keep your food fresh.

4. Sustain the Temperature Inside the Fridge

As mentioned earlier, it is vital to maintain the temperature inside the fridge. Otherwise, there will be a high risk for microbial growth, which results in foul odors.

Keep the temperature around 39°F to 41°F (4°C to 5°C).

5. Use Vinegar to Remove Bad Odors

Vinegar can neutralize bad odors in your fridge. However, since vinegar has a distinct and pungent smell, you should use it in lesser amounts.

For example, half a glass would be enough for a medium-sized refrigerator.

Replace it once every two weeks.

6. Place a Bowl of Oatmeal in the Fridge

uncooked oatmeal in a bowl

Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast – you can use it to remove bad odors inside the fridge. To use, put the oatmeal in a container, such as a ceramic or aluminum bowl, and place it in the fridge.

7. Check Your Vegetables in the Fridge Regularly

Rotten vegetables are a common culprit behind a fridge’s foul odor.

Therefore, it is important to check your vegetables weekly and discard the ones already spoiled and rotten.

Make sure to remove them from the fridge since they may contaminate the fresh ones.

8. Place Slices of Lemons in Your Fridge

sliced of lemon in the fridge

You can cut a few slices of lemon and place them inside your fridge to absorb and remove the unpleasant odor. Simply replace the lemon slices every few days or about once a week.

You can do the same with oranges.

In addition, you can also use freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice. Just put it in a cup and let it sit in your fridge.

If the odor persists, you may need to combine lemon juice with baking soda and warm water. Put it in a sprayer, then spray it inside your fridge regularly.

9. Put Coffee Beans in Your Fridge

If you’re a coffee person, you might want to consider using coffee beans to remove the bad odor in your fridge.

Just spread freshly ground coffee in a pan or a baking tray, then keep it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, you will notice that the unpleasant odor is gone, replaced by the aroma of coffee.

10. Place Slices of Potatoes in Your Fridge

Like apples and lemons, you can use a peeled or a sliced potato to absorb all the bad odors in your fridge.

Make sure to replace the potato with a new one every two to three days to maximize its efficiency.

11. Use Vanilla Essence or Extract

bottle of Vanilla extract, vanilla and white flower on white background

The vanilla extract or essence that you usually use in baking and other dishes can be used to eliminate the foul odor in your fridge.

Just add a few drops of it on cotton balls and let them sit in your fridge.

12. Place Used Tea Bags in Your Fridge

Don’t discard used tea bags. Instead, use them to absorb the foul odor in your fridge.

To use, put the tea bags in a container and place them inside the fridge. You can use new or dry tea bags, too.

13. Use Activated Charcoal

activated charcoal or activated carbon on white background

Activated charcoal is probably among the most effective odor-absorbing items. Place five or more charcoal tablets in a glass, then cover it with a napkin.

Reasons Behind a Bad-Smelling Fridge

There are many possible reasons why your fridge smells terrible. It is important to identify the source of the smell to eliminate it.

Here are the possible reasons for a bad-smelling fridge:

1. The Inside of the Fridge Is Dirty

It is natural for a dirty fridge to be stinky. Perhaps it’s a spilled liquid, a rotten apple, or a forgotten leftover that’s causing the smell.

The most effective solution to this is to deep-clean your fridge.

Discard everything rotten or spoiled, remove the shelves and clean them, and then wipe the fridge’s inside.

2. Improper Storage of Food

woman getting donut on a plate inside the fridge

As mentioned, it is important to store your food properly to avoid them from rotting quickly.

Not all ingredients should be stored in the fridge, while some need to be placed in a specific area of your fridge to ensure that they are stored at the right temperature.

3. The Drip Tray or Water Tank Needs Cleaning

If you have already cleaned the inside of the fridge and the smell persists, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the drip tray or the drain behind your fridge, as it may already be filled with gunk or unpleasant substances.

On the other hand, if your fridge smells like chemicals, check your water dispenser because you may need to change its filter.

Like all other appliances, every fridge has a user guide that you can look at if you’re unsure how to clean your drip tray or change the filter properly.

left over food in casserole inside fridge causing bad smell


While all tips mentioned above are effective in removing the foul odor in your fridge temporarily, in the end, the most effective way to eliminate it is to discard the source of the bad smell.

Before taking any of the actions above, you may want to take a quick look inside your fridge and see if anything is causing the bad odor.