How do I clean a smelly refrigerator?

by Betty
  19 answers
  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Mar 15, 2020

    Start by taking everything out and keep the items cold in an ice chest, remove and clean the shelves/racks with warm soapy water and dish soap, rinse with clear water and let dry. Place an old towel in front of the refrig on the floor.Wipe the inside of it with a micro fiber cloth in the dish water. You may need a scouring sponge or a small toothbrush to get off sticky spills. Toothpaste is a mild abrasive for these areas and will leave a nice fresh scent.

    For the contents, throw out anything expired or not going to be eaten in the next couple of days,

    Next look under the refrig, there is a drain pan which may be full of water and gunky stuff, remove the vent infront of it and pull the pan towards you, very gently to avoid spills, dump the contents and wash it out. Replace it.

    If you still have smells, consider adding a box of baking soda to take up the odors.

  • Debi53 Debi53 on Mar 15, 2020

    First of all make sure to take everything out. Remove all bins and trays that are removable. A mixture of dish soap, water, and a little vinegar should be enough to clean your fridge. Rinse and dry after a good washing. Next wipe down every jar or bottle and dry them before you put them back. If you feel like you need more, OdoBan is amazing. It can be purchased at Home Depot (about $8 a gallon-you dilute it with water) or online. Get the original formula. I use it for all kinds of cleaning. It kills germs without bleach and smells fresh. If there is bacteria growing in your fridge that is causing the smell, OdoBan will kill it.

  • 17335038 17335038 on Mar 15, 2020

    Also clean under and in between any rubber or plastic edgings and inside the tracks of sliding compartments. If any liquid has spilt or dripped on the shelves, it could have easily found its way under the edgings. Milk is particularly bad for causing foul smells.

  • Craft Invaders Craft Invaders on Mar 15, 2020

    This post has some useful tips

  • Em Em on Mar 15, 2020

    Remove EVERYTHING. Wash every nook and cranny with dish soap. Remove vegetable and dairy trays, and wash in sink. Dry replace add an open box of baking soda and leave on the door to absorb odors. There is no reason for a refrigerator to smell bad is you routinely check for outdated food and wipe the shelves down at least once a month.

  • Janice Janice on Mar 15, 2020

    Remove all items from the fridge and take the bins and shelves out too. These are easily cleaned in a bathtub full of hot soapy water. Rinse all well and let sit to dry well. In the meantime use hot soapy water and white vinegr to wipe and clean the entire interior refrigerator box. Replace the shelves/bins, etc. Sort through all the food items and toss any that are old with expired dates on the labels. Open a new box of baking soda and place it on a shelf at the back of your fride and you should be good to go with a fresh smelling fridge. As you shop for groceries and replace items in the fridge do a quick survey to toss anything that has spoiled or has an expired date. After this initial torough cleaning, easy peasy to take care of spills as they occur.

  • Beth Beth on Mar 15, 2020

    I agree about removing everything. If you leave the food on the counter for a short time, it will be fine. Then you can really get in and scrub the shelves (or take them out if they come out), drawers, and all surfaces. Be sure to clean the bottoms of the items that you're adding back to the fridge, as they might have been leaking or sitting in something that smelled.

  • Dee Dee on Mar 15, 2020

    Remove everything. Do not use the dishwasher for your shelf containers, you could crack them. Hand wash with soapy water. My fridge had glass shelves, I take them out and hand was them also. Doing this in the bathtub makes it easier because of the space.

    Spray the inside of the fridge with a solution of vinegar and water, concentrating on soiled areas and let it soak in. Wash the removed shelves and drawers with warm soapy water and set them aside to dry. Head back to the fridge and wipe everything down with a rag

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Mar 15, 2020

    Betty...Remove everything ...toss any out of date items and items you no longer want. Remove shelves and at a time...and clean well. Wipe down refrig inside and out. After replacing everything put an open box of soda in it. My choice for cleaning is Dawn & warm water . Good luck

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Mar 15, 2020

    Use white vinegar to help with odors.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Mar 15, 2020

    Empty it out, remove all the racks and removable parts. Check the drain pan underneath and clean. Coffee grounds also help absorb odor. Twice I had this problem. The first time was a dead mouse behind the refrigerator. The second time a package of meat slid behind the bottom drawer, drained into the drain at the bottom and made an interesting (and foul smelling) mess. I had to clean the drain, too, so it was a messy process. Hot soapy water and vinegar were my friends. Good luck!

  • Sharon Sharon on Mar 16, 2020

    Don't forget to check below the frig for one of those drawers that collects excess moisture. My go to fix is after you've cleaned it and its empty, spray some Frebreze in it like the Bora Bora one.

  • J Brown J Brown on Mar 16, 2020

    newspaper is great to absorb refrigerator smells especially if it has been OFF and doors got closed.

  • Pamela Pamela on Mar 17, 2020

    Empty everything out of it !!!! Wipe it all down ! take out shelves & drawers , clean everywhere ! Then cut a lemon in half and rub it over the inside surface . Place a small custard cup of baking soda on a shelf , replace it each day with fresh baking soda until you don't have the small any more . Also if you had anything in a cardboard box , you will need to replace it , because it probably absorbed the bad smell . Good luck!!!!!

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Mar 17, 2020

    I keep a box of baking soda opened up.

  • Maura White Maura White on Mar 17, 2020

    PUll everything out and give it a good wipe down and throw away anything that is expired. Then keep an opened box of baking soda in your fridge to absorb odors!!

  • Lots of baking soda and vinegar...and 409!