Unlocking the Mystery of Why Your Fridge Smells Bad Even After Cleaning

Are you stumped by a stubborn smell lingering in your fridge despite giving it a deep clean? Did you know that factors like moisture buildupbacteria growth, and absorbance of odors by plastic elements can keep your unit smelling less than fresh even after clean-ups? This article is here to help with proven techniques and hacks to tackle refrigerator odors effectively.

Read on to turn your stinky fridge into one that’s fresh as a daisy!

Key Takeaways

  • The fridge still smells bad after cleaning due to factors like absorbed odorsdirty or clogged filters, and mold in the drip pan.
  • To tackle persistent fridge smells, you can clean with baking soda and vinegaruse lemon or coffee to absorb scents and check and clean under veggie bin trays.
  • Proactive measures to prevent these scents include regular cleaning and maintenanceproper temperature and moisture control, and changing the water filter regularly.

Understanding the Problem: Why Your Fridge Smells Bad Even After Cleaning

Even after a thorough cleaning, your fridge may stink weirdly due to absorbed odors, dirty or clogged filters, and mold in the drip pan. Let’s get into them.

Absorbed Odors

Strong scents can soak into the plastic. Once there, they are hard to remove. If your fridge still stinks after cleaning, this may be why. Items like baking soda or coffee grounds can help.

They pull the nasty smell from the plastic in your fridge. For more cleaning hacks, check out our guide on steam cleaners.

Dirty or Clogged Filters

Dirty or clogged filters are a prime cause of bad smells in the fridge. These filters can catch and hold mold, bacteria, and food bits over time. When they get full and clog up, they release these smells into your fridge.

You can stop this by checking the air filter often. Take it out once a month to see if it’s clean or dirty. A dirty filter will have stuff on it that you can scrub off with soap and water.

Doing this helps kill any bad-smelling bacteria or mold hiding inside. For other cleaning solutions, consider using a spot cleaner machine.

Mold in the Drip Pan

Last but not least – mold. Especially in the drip tray, can also make your fridge smell terrible. This tray sits under your fridge to catch water. Sometimes, food or dirt gets into the pan. This mix of dirt and moisture helps mold grow.

Mold gives off a nasty smell that can fill your fridge even after you clean it all out! It’s essential to remove the drip pan and clean it to prevent this. You can also use hydrogen peroxide as it kills both mold and smells without leaving its own scent behind!

If you’re dealing with mold elsewhere, here’s how to get rid of mold in the bathroom ceiling.

How to Tackle Persistent Refrigerator Smell

To tackle persistent smells, you can try cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, using lemon or coffee to absorb them, and checking and cleaning under veggie bin trays.

Cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar

You can freshen up your refrigerator with vinegar and baking soda. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. First, unplug your fridge for safety. Then, clear all items from it.
  2. Mix one part vinegar with two parts warm water in a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the mix inside the fridge.
  4. Use a clean cloth to wipe all the surfaces.
  5. Keep the fridge door open to dry out completely.
  6. Spread baking soda in an open container over each shelf in your fridge.
  7. Close the fridge and let it sit for at least 24 hours.

For other kitchen cleaning tips, check out how to deal with an oven spill or how to deep clean an air fryer.

Using Lemon or Coffee to Absorb Odors

To deal with nasty smells in your fridge, you can try using lemon or coffee. Here are some ways to use them:

  • Cut a fresh lemon in half and place it on a plate or bowl in the fridge. The lemon will help get rid of the smell and leave your fridge sensing fresh.
  • Alternatively, you can fill a small container with coffee grounds and place it in the fridge. The coffee will absorb unpleasant smells.

Checking and Cleaning Under Veggie Bin Trays

To fully clean the refrigerator, it’s important to check and clean under the vegetable bin trays. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Remove the vegetable bin trays from the fridge.
  2. Look for any dirt or food debris that may have accumulated in this area.
  3. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away any residue.
  4. Pay close attention to the corners and crevices where smells can linger.
  5. Dry the area thoroughly before putting the bin trays back in place.

Tips for Deodorizing Your Fridge and Proactive Measures to Prevent Odors

Regular cleaning and maintenance, proper temperature and moisture control, and changing the water filter regularly are essential steps to prevent these ugly smells. Don’t let your fridge become a breeding ground for unpleasant smells – discover simple tips and tricks to keep it fresh!

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Regular cleaning and maintenance of both your fridge and freezer are important to keep them smelling fresh and prevent aromas from building up. Here are some key steps to follow:

  1. Clean the interior: Remove all items from the fridge and discard any expired or rotten food. Wipe down the shelves, walls, and drawers with a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap or a disinfectant cleaner. Rinse with clean water afterward.
  2. Pay attention to spills: Promptly clean up any spills or leaks to prevent them from causing lingering smells. Use a paper towel or cloth dampened with soapy water to wipe away spills, then rinse with clean water.
  3. Clean the door gasket: The rubber seal around the refrigerator door can trap dirt, moisture, and scents. Wipe it down regularly with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water, or use a mild disinfectant cleaner. Dry thoroughly afterward.
  4. Check the drip tray: The drip tray collects condensation from the fridge’s defrost cycle. If it becomes dirty or moldy, remove it carefully (consult your user’s manual if needed) and clean it with warm soapy water or a mixture of vinegar and water.
  5. Dust the coils: Dust accumulation on the refrigerator coils, at the back of the fridge can cause them to work harder and produce more heat, potentially leading to a smelly refrigerator issue. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment or a soft brush to gently remove dust from the coils at least once every six months.
  6. Keep it organized: Arrange food items neatly in containers or sealed bags to prevent cross-contamination and minimize bacteria and mold spreading throughout the device.

Proper Temperature and Moisture Control

While looking after your device it’s important to maintain proper refrigerator temperature and moisture control. Make sure the thermostat is set at the recommended temperature, usually between 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1 to 3 degrees Celsius).

This helps inhibit bacteria growth and slows down food spoilage. Additionally, check if there are any moisture leaks or condensation inside the refrigerator. Excess moisture can contribute to mold growth and create bad smells.

It’s also a good idea to keep your refrigerator well-organized and not overcrowded, as this allows for better airflow and reduces the chances of food going bad.

Changing the Water Filter Regularly

Regularly changing the water filter in your fridge is an essential step in preventing persistent odors. When the filter becomes dirty or clogged, it can contribute to foul smells lingering in your refrigerator.

By replacing it on a regular basis, you can ensure that clean and fresh-tasting water flows through your appliance, reducing the likelihood of nasty smells caused by bacteria or mold growth.

So, make it a habit to change the filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to keep your device fresh and clean.

If you’re planning to move your fridge, here’s a guide on transporting a refrigerator.


In conclusion, dealing with a bad-smelling refrigerator can be frustrating, especially when the smell persists even after cleaning. However, by understanding the causes of persistent odors and using effective cleaning methods like baking soda and vinegar, lemon or coffee, you can eliminate those foul odors.

Remember to regularly clean and maintain your appliancecheck and replace filters, and address mold in the bottom tray. With these proactive measures, you’ll keep your refrigerator smelling fresh and clean for longer periods.

Goodbye to those stubborn odors!


1. Why does my fridge still smell bad after cleaning it?

Your refrigerator might still stink due to issues like hidden mold, a dirty drip tray, a blocked drainage hole, or food that went rancid.

2. What can I use when cleaning the fridge to get rid of odor?

You can use bleach or homemade alternatives like vinegar all-purpose spray made with distilled white vinegar and citric acid.

3. Are there ways I deodorize my fridge without using cleaners?

Yes! You can place items such as activated charcoal, cotton balls soaked in vanilla essential oil, citrus fruit filled with salt, unscented kitty litter or crumpled-up newspaper to absorb smells.

4. How do I treat odors absorbed by plastic in the refrigerator?

To help tackle odor stuck in plastic areas of your refrigerator try wiping them first with distilled white vinegar then putting on fresh containers of baking soda for its odor-obliterating power.

5. Can moisture & temperature control problems make a device smell bad?

Yes! Moisture and temperature issues may lead to food going off quickly and causing an unpleasant smell in your device.

6. When should I call a professional if my refrigerator still stinks after cleaning?

If you have tried deep kitchen cleaning methods but notice strange chemical smells like a Freon leak or stagnant water stench persisting, bring in a professional appliance technician.

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