How to Neutralize Odors In The Fridge

closeup of hand with yellow glove and rag cleaning inside of fridge

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How to Get Rid of Refrigerator Smells: 6 Tricks To Live By

We’ve all been there. Whether you forgot to throw out the lettuce before leaving town for a week or let that gallon of milk go a few days past the expiration date – refrigerator smells are bound to happen. But resist the urge to slam the door shut and just forget about it because that will make the odor situation worse.

The nastiest part about odors is that, in large part, they are caused by mold or bacteria. These microbes are invisible and thrive in places where there is significant moisture, making your refrigerator the ideal place for them to take up residence. Spilled, rotten, or expired food, along with condensation and outside humidity are the biggest contributors to a stinky fridge.

So what are some ways to get rid of refrigerator smells? How can we prevent them from occurring in the first place?

Equipment you’ll need to clean up refrigerator smells

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Microfiber cloth or scrubbing sponge
  • Oats or coffee grounds
  • Dish soap
  • Cookie sheet

Steps to get rid of refrigerator smells

Remove. First, remove everything from the fridge and discard any items that may be spoiled or expired.  Wipe down any jars or containers that are sticky or have exposed food residue. Next, remove any surfaces inside the fridge such as drawers, adjustable shelves, or racks and soak them in hot water and dish soap as you clean the rest of the fridge’s interior.

Equip. To clean your fridge, we suggest that you skip the multipurpose cleaning sprays and opt for simpler, natural products like a solution of baking soda and vinegar, which are natural odor absorbers. Not only is this a natural cleaning method, but the fizzing action will also lift stains as it deodorizes and cleans.

To begin the cleanup process, use a clean microfiber cloth or new sponge that won’t easily fall apart. You can also use a thin rag or toothbrush to get into crevices and smaller spaces where food particles might be trapped. Quality tools clean better and help prevent the spread of odor-causing bacteria. Apply a small amount of vinegar and baking soda directly to your cleaning equipment.

Wipe. While the fridge is empty, start at the top and work your way down. Be sure to wipe underneath the drawers and scrub the ceiling, sides, and doors. Don’t forget the outside of the fridge as well, as these surfaces can transfer odors.

Rinse. Rinse the cloth or sponge with warm water and use it to rinse away the baking soda and vinegar residue where you just scrubbed. Continue rinsing with warm water until you remove all traces of your cleaning solution.

Replace. If you have a fridge thermometer, wait until the temperature inside the fridge falls to 5°C (41°F) or below before replacing the food. If your fridge has a fast-cool function, use it to speed up the cooling process.

Preventing refrigerator smells and odors

Once your fridge is clean, you will want to prevent odors from reoccurring. One way to do this using household items is by spreading a thin layer of baking soda on a large cookie sheet and leaving it in the fridge overnight. If you don’t have baking soda on hand, oats and coffee grounds are also natural odor absorbers and will get the job done just as well.  

Bonus tip: use cotton balls soaked in vanilla to leave a pleasant scent in the fridge.

Another note: If your refrigerator is stained, mix baking soda with a small amount of warm water to form a paste. Spread the paste on the stains and allow it to sit for at least one hour before wiping clean.

How To Keep Your Fridge Fresh:

  1. Set your fridge temperature to prevent bacteria growth, between 37-41 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Use airtight containers for leftovers.
  3. Label and date leftovers.
  4. Ensure good air circulation in the fridge by organizing storage and condensing packaging as you consume food.
  5. Evaluate your fridge on a weekly basis for food spoilage.

Your fridge is one of the hardest working appliances in your home. A clean fridge will not only make you feel better about storing your food, it makes food taste better and stay edible for a longer time.

While Aftermath Services doesn’t provide spring cleaning services such as cleaning out your fridge, if you are ever in a situation where the home or appliances present health dangers and biohazards, such as during a hoarding situation, call us at (877-872-4339). for professional help.


From Orlando to Nashville, Aftermath provides professional biohazard, crime scene and coronavirus cleanup services to families, employers, and communities. We are dedicated to providing emergency rapid response 24/7/365, so we’ll be there whenever and wherever you need us. When you find yourself asking “What now?”… call Aftermath.