Learn How to Deodorize a Refrigerator and Stop Embarrassing Odors

Learn how to freshen up your fridge while ensuring your favorite foods keep their great taste.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Young woman cleaning refrigerator with sponge and spray at home

When you open the fridge to grab a slice of cheesecake, the last thing you want is to be hit by a weird smell. Even worse, that stench can affect the flavor of your food—it’s a phenomenon known as taste transfer, and baking soda is one way to stop it. Here, we tell you more about how to deodorize a refrigerator in a few simple tips. Follow them, and you’ll preserve the enticing flavor of your cheesecake treats and other edibles for much longer.

Start with a Cleanup

Remove everything from your refrigerator. Check expiration dates on prepackaged foods and throw out anything that’s out-of-date. If you have funky smelling leftovers, toss those, too, along with any soft or spoiled produce.

Give the refrigerator a thorough cleaning. Getting into all those nooks and crannies to remove any lingering odor-causing spills.

Prefer to avoid chemical cleaners? Lemons, as well as more baking soda, can be used to clean and deodorize many appliances. When combined, these two agents not only help eliminate odors but add a fresh lemony scent.

If the odor problem is still present, you may need to give your refrigerator time to air out. This can take a few hours to several days, depending on the severity of the problem. Remove all food, providing proper cold storage, to prevent spoilage. Unplug the refrigerator, and after a thorough cleaning leave the door standing open to the fresh air. You may want to place baking soda, lemons, charcoal or cat litter inside to absorb any stubborn lingering odors.

Prevent Odors from Returning

Check leftovers every few days—they don’t last forever. Throw out anything with a pungent odor, mold or signs of spoilage. Wipe down the shelves. Do this before grocery shopping and you will also be removing shelving clutter, leaving more room and clean shelves for the newly purchased food.

Refrigerators are manufactured with proper food temperatures in mind. By organizing foods properly, you maintain their freshness as long as possible, which helps to keep odors at a minimum. Use the door for condiments, juice, butter, eggs, oils and soda. The meat bin is made for deli meats, bacon and cheese. Crisper drawers are for produce and usually allow you to set the humidity level according to the fruits and vegetables on hand. The lower shelf is great for fish, raw meat and poultry. The upper shelf is perfect for leftovers; place them in front within easy reach. Use or discard leftovers before they begin to spoil.

Spills inside a refrigerator are unavoidable. Taking the time to clean up any mishaps as soon as they happen is an important step in preventing odors which could require a deeper cleaning later on.

Avoid Odor Transfer

Some of our favorite foods, such as salmon, garlic mashed potatoes and French onion soup can also become sources of bad smells if we are not careful. By storing leftovers in tightly sealed containers, you can protect other foods from odor and taste transfer while ensuring that slice of chocolate swirled cheesecake you’ve been saving will taste as delicious as you imagined it would.

Sherrie Giddens
As the wife of a minister, I am heavily involved in serving our congregation. I have several articles focusing on women and their Christian walk, at UCG.org. As a certified professional interior decorator and have used my skills to help women gain control over clutter in their homes as well as bringing more order to their personal lives. This includes saving time and money in the kitchen, creating a home which can serve the needs of each individual family, and learning to set priorities when it comes to the use of time. As an author I write fiction and nonfiction for women and their families. All of my books can be found at Amazon.