Have you ever opened your refrigerator door only to be greeted by a rotten smell? Don’t let this bad odour linger! Today, we’ll be answering the question: how do I get rotten smell out of fridge?

What Causes a Fridge to Smell?

Before you can remove the rotten smell in the fridge, you must first know what’s causing it. Generally, germs, moulds, and yeast that thrive in moisture and organic matter are the culprit for the bad odour in your fridge. 

While refrigeration slows down the growth of bacteria, overtime leftovers and various parts of your fridge can still serve as a breeding ground for these microbes. Here are the worst offenders that cause a fridge to smell:

You’re Keeping Spoiled Food

Last week’s takeaway, old milk cartons, that mouldy cheese sitting at the back, meat and seafood, cooked food that has gone bad are often the usual suspects for a smelly fridge. These can spoil overtime and leave your fridge smelling like a stinky mess. If there is a pungent smell, changes in texture, and visible moulds in your food, take them out and toss them. This helps get rid of the rotten smell of food immediately.

There are Hidden Spills Lurking About

Food spills can go unnoticed especially in a cramped fridge. When left unnoticed, spilled liquids can be a breeding ground for bacteria and moulds that cause foul fridge odours. Check the corners, crevices, and hard-to-reach areas inside your fridge for food residue that you might need to wipe clean.

The Bin is Filled with Old Veggies

Bacteria and mould love old vegetables and fruits. As your produce rot, they can release nasty juices and give your fridge a nasty odour. Keep an eye out for overripe items that you may need to throw out already.

Don’t forget to check under the bin since water and bits of food can accumulate here and leave a bad smell as they spoil.

You Have a Mouldy Drip Pan

If your refrigerator comes with a drip pan to collect condensation, then you might want to check it out. These need to be emptied regularly, otherwise, it may overflow and harbour odour-causing mould and bacteria.

The Thermostat is Not Set Properly

If your fridge is not cold enough, the food you store inside could spoil easily and could be contaminated by mould and dangerous bacteria. Meanwhile, if it’s too cold, frost may build up inside and leave you with a damp and unpleasant smell.

clean fridge

What Do I Need to Get Rotten Smell Out of Your Fridge?

A clean fridge is a fresh-smelling fridge. Before you can start the process of giving your fridge a full scrub-down, you need to gather your supplies. Here are the best household cleaning materials you can use to ward off any unpleasant odour from your fridge in the future:

  • Baking Soda. Also called bicarbonate of soda or bicarb, this crystalline salt has excellent deodorising properties that can absorb nasty smells even from the worst offenders in your fridge. It can also be used as a natural non-abrasive cleaner that can help wipe away food residue in your fridge.
  • Vinegar. White vinegar mixed with water serves as a food-safe cleaner that can break down gunk and grime that may have accumulated in crevices, on the shelves, and the interior of your fridge.
  • Microfibre cloth and a scrubbing sponge. You might need some elbow grease to remove crusted spills and stains. A scrubbing sponge is one of the best tools for removing caked-on spills. Meanwhile, a microfibre cloth is perfect for a final wipe down once you’ve scrubbed everything.
  • Dish soap and Warm Water. Mild dishwashing soap mixed with some warm water can be used to soften caked up food residue and other stubborn dirt on shelves, bins, and fridge interiors.

How Do You Get Rid of Rotten Smell?

Getting rid of rotten smells inside your fridge is as simple as these four steps: 

Step 1: Plug Off Your Fridge and Take Everything Out

Remove everything from your fridge including all the food and beverages. 

Often, taking out spoiled food gets rid of rotten smells out of your fridge. So, discard expired items and food that you haven’t touched in days. If it looks or smells off, throw it out. Wipe down any sticky jars, bottles, and containers that you’ll be keeping.

Next, take out all the shelves, racks, and bins. Soak them in a mixture of warm water and dish soap to soften any caked-on food residue. After a few minutes, you might need to scrub away stubborn dirt. Rinse everything with warm water and let it dry.

Don’t forget to check the drip pan. Drain it if necessary and give it a good wash with some warm soapy water. Let it dry.

Step 2: Wipe Everything Down

Once your fridge is empty, you can use a sponge dampened with some warm water and vinegar to wipe away visible dirt. Dislodge tougher residue with a paste made from baking soda and vinegar.

Be sure to cover every nook and cranny or your fridge including underneath the drawers, the ceilings, sides, and the doors. Wipe down the exterior of the fridge as well as the handles.

Step 3: Rinse and Air Out Your Fridge

Baking soda and vinegar can leave a film behind once it dries. To get rid of traces of your cleaning solution, wet a sponge with some warm water and wipe everything down two or three more times. Keep the door open until all the surfaces have sufficiently dried.

Step 4: Put the Shelves, Bins, Racks, and Remaining Food Back

Plug your refrigerator back in, replace the shelves, bins, and racks, and turn it on. Set it at the right temperature and wait for a bit until it reaches about 5°C. Replace the food items you’ve decided to keep in their proper places.

Cleaning Tips for Your Fridge

Once your fridge is clean and odour-free, you’ll want to prevent nasty smells from coming back. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to keep your refrigerator smelling fresh until your next cleaning session. This includes:

Regularly Check for Spoiled Food

Keep expiration dates in mind and label your leftovers so you’ll know which food items you need to consume immediately. Regularly check for overripe produce and be on the lookout for food that may smell off or has changed texture or colour.

Use Airtight Containers

Reusable airtight containers made of glass are your best tools for keeping find fresher for longer and for preventing foul smells from developing in your fridge. These are not porous so they won’t absorb strong smells from your food, and it will also prevent odours from leaking out.

Clean Spills Immediately

Wipe away any spilled food immediately. Fresh spills are not only easier to clean but will also prevent odour-causing spoilage in the long run. Make it a habit to clean up spills as soon as they happen to make deep cleaning easier and to keep your fridge hygienic. 

Use Natural Odour-Absorbers

Pantry staples including baking soda, oats, and coffee grounds act as a sponge for unpleasant odours in the fridge. Put some in a small bowl and place it in one corner of your fridge to absorb funky smells. You can also put lemon slices or use a few drops of citrus essential oils to impart a fresh scent to your fridge.

Keeping your fridge free from spoiled food and keeping it clean regularly will keep it odour-free in the long run. If you need a new fridge or expand your fridge, check out our refrigerators!