How do you get rid of the mixture of smells in a refrigerator (Not Unplugged) so that other items don't inherit their nasty smell? I have heard of baking soda, but are there other techniques?

  • 3
    Why can't you use baking soda?
    – J. Musser
    Dec 28, 2014 at 1:09

5 Answers 5


Activated charcoal works better than baking soda. This is the experiment done to find the efficiency of activated charcoal vs Baking soda.

Similar to charcoal, activated carbon also helps to absorb unpleasant odors inside the refrigerator.

activated charcoal

activated carbon

  1. Cleaning with sponge and mixture of water and baking soda.
  2. Cleaning with white vinegar.
  3. Leave a package of backing soda opened in the fridge for 24 hours.
  4. Leave a cup of white vinegar opened in the fridge for 24 hours.

Some methods are:

  1. Baking soda. Just leave it in there, baking soda leeches odours from the air.
  2. Throw away rotting food(Seriously). Any rotting food will make a odour, but sometimes the rotting food is in small particles.
  • Are there anything besides baking soda?
    – user1744
    Dec 27, 2014 at 18:09

Lime and baking soda.

It makes your fridge smell great. Just be careful because lime is acid and you should know what happens when you mix acid with baking soda.

(HINT: Baking soda and vinegar)


This article shows a lot of ideas that I use:

  • Lemon juice. This is a also cutting a lemon in half, this removes the odour.

Remove refrigerator odors with ease. Dab lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours. Make sure to toss out any malodorous items that might be causing the bad smell.

  • Cotton Balls. These can also be used with a variety of scented oils. I don't know, about their lasting length, as I have only used them for a day or 2 to give a nice odour after something smelly was there.

Sometimes the refrigerator just doesn’t smell fresh. Dampen a cotton ball with vanilla extract and place it on a shelf. You’ll find it acts as a deodorizer, offering its own pleasant scent.

Real Extract is what I use. But the fake stuff should work.

  • Tomato Juice. Never used it, but it is suppose to remove skunk smell.

Did a power failure cause the food to spoil and become malodorous in your fridge? Get rid of spoiled-food smells in your refrigerator and freezer with the help of some tomato juice. After disposing of the bad food that caused the smell, thoroughly wipe the insides of the fridge and freezer with a sponge or washcloth doused in undiluted tomato juice. Rinse with warm, soapy water and wipe dry. If traces of the smell remain, repeat the procedure or substitute vinegar for the tomato juice.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smells in Your Fridge:

You should always clean the things that reside in your refrigerator before putting them back in. Watching the things you put in your refrigerator also helps. Cups of vinegar and trays of baking soda also helps, but there is also:

Use oats as an odor-absorber. Leave a bowl of oats out in your fridge and this will suck in the bad smells.

I've never used this, but oats are really absorbent and pleasant smelling, besides dusty.

Coffee grounds and charcoal are some good odour removers. But make sure that the charcoal is safe.

Let activated charcoal absorb bad odors. Similar to the coffee grounds method, place charcoal briquettes -- do not use briquettes with flammable additives as these are poisonous -- in a couple of shallow bowls or on baking sheets and put them on different shelves in the fridge. Set the refrigerator temperature to low and leave in with the door closed for several days. The smells in question should go away within a few days. Activated charcoal can be purchased from pet stores or drugstores. Charcoal can be refreshed by placing in the oven at 350ºF/180C for 20 minutes.

I use clay cat litter, but you may use others. This may be pricey if you don't own a animal.

Use unscented chlorophyll cat litter. Spread in a shallow pan and leave in the refrigerator until the smell disappears.

This article said to unplug the refrigerator and while it is advised to unplug electric devices before cleaning them you should be fine to leave it on. I advise you greatly to consult your owners manual.

These methods work only if the refrigerator is cleaned of the rotting food, mould, or other problem that caused the smell. They can take away the smell, but resolving the odour is more hygienic.

sheknows.com has some helpful stages.

  • Clean

Even if you didn't have to purge the contents your fridge, this is as good a time as any to give it a good cleaning. Use your favorite antibacterial cleaning spray and a dishcloth or paper towels to wipe down all the surfaces.

  • Absorb

Next, you're going to want to put something in the refrigerator that will absorb the smell. Baking soda is the classic choice, but ground coffee or even tea bags are great alternatives. Leave them in open containers in the fridge for as long as there is an odor (many people opt to leave an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator at all times as a preventative measure).

  • Perfume

Once you have the smell mostly gone, you can start to mask it just a little with a few natural kitchen "perfumes." Rub a vanilla extract-soaked cotton ball on the shelves for a fresh vanilla scent or spread a few lemon slices throughout the shelves (just don't forget about them and let them get moldy — you'll be back at square one!).

And remember to wrap all the food up in airtight containers, and sealable jars and bags. This will make sure the odours doesn't affect other food, as well.

If the smell persists, give it another thorough clean. That, and some time, should be enough to rid your fridge of even the most persistent smells. To prevent your food from absorbing the odors, be sure everything is tightly sealed in jars or plastic containers. Ice cube trays with covers are great if you can find them.

So wear a CAP when cleaning the refrigerator.

If the refrigerator is still smelly after all of this stuff, check its vents. It may have moulded or have severe water damage. Using several methods, always works better than one.

Ways to prevent odours

  • Use airtight containers.

  • Clean spills and messes.

  • Watch for spoiling food and remove appropriately. Having a paper on the door of the fridge that says when food was bought, opened and its expiration date should help.

  • Having regular maintenance. This means cleaning any pans or vents and calling someone to fix it. Adding some deodorants to the pan works amazing.

  • Storing food properly.

Cleaning a unplugged refrigerator and a plugged one are pretty much the same only the methods may be a bit less noxious.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.