Why Does My Refrigerator Smell Bad? (Top Reasons, Fixes)

Have you ever experienced an odd smell coming from your fridge? Well, it’s probably the leftover spaghetti and the marinara sauce that was bought a week ago. But can it be the only reason?

There can be many reasons for the bad smell from the refrigerator. Most of us don’t care about our fridge and don’t maintain it periodically. But it is one of the common appliances in every household and it holds an important responsibility of holding our foods.

You may ignore the smell or start to investigate the cause and clean the fridge right away. Let us explore the possible reasons for the bad smelling refrigerator and find out how to rectify it.

Why Does My Refrigerator Smell Bad

Why Does My Refrigerator Smell Bad?

Your refrigerator may smell bad due to odor from leftover foods, mold formation in moist areas of the fridge, and sometimes due to leaking refrigerant chemicals. It is important to find out the exact reason for the smell and rectify it soon.

Odor from Leftovers

Every item has an expiry date. Especially food items have very less shelf life. Cooked food is easier for microbes to digest. Obviously, that is why we use refrigerators to preserve them for a long time.

But, even if you keep the food in the fridge, it will get spoiled after some time due to microbial action. The decomposition will produce a bad odor which will keep circulating inside the cold storage.

This odor will be absorbed by the inner walls of the fridge, the vents, and sometimes even in the evaporator coils.

Therefore, you cannot preserve your food forever inside the fridge. At a certain point, they will get decomposed and gives out a bad odor. 

Molds in Places You Don’t Care

Moisture and darkness, are the perfect conditions for mold growth. Refrigerator removes humidity and drains the condensed water vapors from the evaporator coil. Due to the wetness in such areas, mold can form very easily.

Moisture can also form inside the refrigerator if you keep the fridge door open and allow humid air inside it. This humid air will condense and form water droplets on the walls of the refrigerator. These water droplets takes time to dry and provides a perfect space for mold growth.

Commonly you can find mold growing under the vegetable tray. Because it is present at the bottom of the fridge with minimum airflow. Due to lower air circulation, these condensed vapors don’t dry quickly and moisture forms pretty easily under it.

We don’t usually look under the vegetable cabinet and gradually the mold can spread all over the fridge. The molds can give out a pretty bad smell and you might have hard time removing it effectively.

These molds can also form outside the fridge and produce a smell inside it. The drip pan, where the condensate water is drained out, is also a breeding ground for molds.

The odor can circulate from the drip pan to the insides of the refrigerator. The fungus can spread from the pan too.

So, the fungus can form in places you generally don’t give concern and can spoil other food items.

Refrigerant Leak

Although this case is commonly found in old refrigerator units, the pungent odd smelling odor from your fridge can be your refrigerant.

The refrigerants give out a pungent smell which is more like a block of rotten wood and it indicates the leakage. So, if you smell this in your refrigerator you can be sure of it.

This is also a dangerous sign because the refrigerant can spoil your food and might be highly hazardous to your health.

You need to immediately rectify this issue or replace the refrigerator with a new one. 

How to Remove Smell from Fridge Naturally?

Once you have found out the reason, you need solutions, right? You might think that just by removing the leftovers and wiping the fridge you can rectify the issue. WRONG!! Doing that will only solve the issue partly.

Yes, removing the leftovers and cleaning the fridge thoroughly can be the first step. But many people complain of bad odor even after performing a deep clean. So, what to do now?

Try the following things to get rid of the fridge smell permanently and make the appliance fresh like a newly purchased one.

Defrost and Provide Fresh Air

  • Remove all the contents of your fridge. Try to avoid stuffing new things inside when you have decided to clean it.
  • After removing all the things, defrost the fridge. Defrosting differs according to the model and you can check with your manufacturer to know the method.
  • If you are using a frost-free model, then simply turn off the refrigerator and unplug it.
  • While defrosting, open the refrigerator doors and let fresh air circulate inside.
  • If you are having the fridge in a closed space, then take it out for more air circulation.
  • The idea here is to remove all the moisture and let all the bad odor diffuse away naturally.
  • It just takes one full day if you have good weather. This is the best way to remove odor from your fridge permanently.

Baking Soda

  • Remove the contents of your fridge and turn it off.
  • Clean any kind of spillage and other dirt in it. You can use lemon juice to wipe the fridge down.
  • Take some Baking Soda and sprinkle it all over the fridge.
  • Let it sit for One day. The soda will absorb the odor and keeps your refrigerator odorless.
  • Wipe all the soda leftover thoroughly and turn on the fridge.
  • Let the fridge run for two hours without any contents. After two hours, refill the appliance.

Coffee Grounds

  • If you grind your own coffee in your home, then this hack can quickly remove any odor from the appliance easily.
  • Just take some used coffee grounds and spread them on a baking pan. Let it dry for some time in the air.
  • Then keep the grounds in a small bowl inside your refrigerator. Within one or two days, the coffee will absorb the diffused odor and gives a better smell.

Rectifying Mold Growth

  • As we mentioned, mold growth is commonly found in the drip pan and under the vegetable cabinet. So, first, do a complete defrost.
  • Remove the drip pan, vegetable cabinet, and any other visible areas where the mold is spread.
  • Add a few spoons of baking soda and scrub the mold away completely. Use this soda to clear all the molds in the fridge.
  • Then use white vinegar to give another round of rub to neutralize the alkalinity of the baking soda. This will also neutralize mold growth effectively.
  • Let the refrigerator be open for two days and then you are good to go. Make sure to regularly remove the drip pan and clean it periodically.

Rectifying Refrigerant Leak

  • When you suspect a refrigerant leak, immediately call a service company and check out the issue soon.
  • Once they fix the leak, keep the fridge doors open in an aerated environment. This will remove all the odor from the refrigerant.
  • This particular issue can be dangerous and hazardous to health. Therefore, don’t try to solve it yourself and seek the help of professionals.
  • If you are using a very old appliance, then it is best to get rid of it and buy a new one.

End Thoughts

Take care of your refrigerator properly. Because it is one of the most used appliances in the home. It preserves your food and you must help it to keep preserving efficiently. Don’t let leftovers spoil your refrigerator environment as well as your health. Eat Healthy Food, Stay Safe, and Maintain Your Fridge’s Hygiene.

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