How do I clean a really smelly refrigerator?

  19 answers
  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Jul 26, 2021

    Hi! Pull everything out including drawers and shelves. Often something is caught in a hidden spot (something was nasty behind a crisper drawer for me). There is also a drain in your fridge. The receptacle for it is usually behind the grill at the bottom of the refrigerator. Once you've cleaned every nook and cranny, most people swear by baking soda. I also have used bamboo charcoal, and coffee grounds to absorb odors. Once I learned how easy it is for something to turn into a science project in a hidden spot, I started using clear bins to store like items. By the way, dust your coils while you are cleaning, for better energy use! Good luck!

  • Libbie B Libbie B on Jul 26, 2021

    Yuck! We own rental units so we deal with this way too often. Unplug your fridge. Empty everything out so you can find the offender. I like to use a product called Traeger all-natural cleaner (home depot sells it). Pull everything out and wash thoroughly. Then let it air out for 45 minutes or so. (Keep your foodstuff on ice while you wait). I then use arm and hammer baking soda to maintain freshness. Good Luck!

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Jul 26, 2021

    clean with white vinegar and warm water then sit a bowl with a small paper towel with one drop of vanilla extract on it then let it sit for a few hours it will get out any smells even dead fish etc

  • Janice Janice on Jul 26, 2021

    Hi Allison, here's a sure way to get the referigerator cleaned and with no residual odors.

  • Sharon Sharon on Jul 26, 2021

    Have you taken all the stuff out, and found the offending item? Remove the veggie trays and check nothing has drained under them, and that the drain is clean. I use an eye dropper with hot water and soap to get it clean.

    If its real moldy, you may have to wash with vinegar, dawn and hot water, and prop door open, frig off to allow it to get the smell out. I use Dollar Tree Awesome Orange spray and a sponge to wash all of it. Put a fresh box of Baking Soda inside with lid open.

  • I would take all the food out and throw out anything that is spoiled. Then, wipe down all of the shelves with a cleanser and wipe down. Put the food back and then leave some open bowls of baking soda to neutralize the odor.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Jul 26, 2021

    Use soap and hot water use dish soap then take. Bowl and fill with water and one capful of bleach then wash the inside down .don’t forget to wash all shelfs draws walls door . That should help if it still smalls wash out with baking soda and water when you turn the fridge on with nothing on it make it as cold as you could for 24 hours that should kill the smell.

  • Em Em on Jul 27, 2021

    Remove all food items and put in a large cooler with ice.

    Remove EVERYTHING. Racks bins etc. Wash ALL of them thoroughly in dish soap rinse and dry.

    Clean EVERY inch of the inside with cleaner of your choice. Wipe ALL food items clean as you put them back in the fridge. Open a box of baking soda by tearing off the entire lid and leave in the back of the fridge or on the door open. It will continue to absorb odors.

    It is cheap. Change it once a month. Use the open box to clean drains. Pour dry soda in sink drains. Add vinegar and let it foam. Rinse.

  • Maura White Maura White on Jul 27, 2021

    I would take everything out and throw out anything spoiled. Then use soapy water to wash down all of the shelves. In the future, be sure to remove spoiled food and use baking soda to control contaminating odors.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Jul 27, 2021

    Do not forget to clean underneath/inside all rubber door gaskets, and plastic trims and edgings. Often bad odours are caused from liquids that have split and in the process gotten under the trim pieces. You may have wiped the shelves, but there still might be some of the liquid under the trim that has since gone rancid.

  • Annie Annie on Jul 28, 2021

    Remove everything. Hot water and bleach and elbow grease. Then put a open box of baking soda in it at all times.

  • I take everything out, wash with soap and water, then I put vinegar on a rag and wipe it all out and dry the surfaces. The vinegar cuts the odors.

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Jul 29, 2021

    Take everything out and clean well then spray down with vinegar

  • I take out all the items, the shelves, drawers, everything then give the inside a good wipe down with lightly soapy water, then clean everything else in soapier water.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Aug 01, 2021

    For particularly pervasive refrigerator smells, mix up a sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water and use it to wipe the bins and shelves down; then rinse in plain water and air dry.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Aug 02, 2021


    Water, Bicarbonate of soda !

  • Deb K Deb K on Aug 02, 2021

    Hi Allison, I had the same problem with my small bar fridge, it came from a home with smokers, so the smoke smell inside was incredible. I took everything out, and unplugged it to defrost it. Use vinegar in water to wipe all surfaces down, get every nook and cranny, then put a box of arm & hammer baking soda in it, and in the drawers as well, hope this helps you out.

  • Use small amount of vinegar and baking soda and combine them, then directly apply it to your cleaning equipment.