Why does Your Fridge Smell and What to Do about It?

by Dr. Jonathan Doyle - Updated December 29, 2021
We get occupied with so many things, so it is not strange to forget things like lettuce in the fridge or miss the expiry date of a gallon of milk. These situations and more all causes refrigerator smell.

How harmful is the refrigerator smell?

There is no harm in odors, considering they are harmful responses to airborne molecules binding to receptors in the nose’s mucus membranes. Just like color cannot harm you, a smell neither can. However, the source of the smell – the chemicals – can be harmful.
Odors are often caused by mold or bacteria. Asides from being visually invisible, these microbes only live in areas with a considerable amount of moisture. So now you see why we often find them in the refrigerator. Those spilled, rotten, and expired food combine with the external humidity to give off stinking odors in your fridge’s interior.
But that’s not all. These contaminants can move from your refrigerated food items to internal water filters, contaminating your dispensed water. As harmless as the smell is, it is a strong indication of the contaminated refrigerator environment, which comes with severe health problems.

Why does your fridge give off stinky odors?

There are a few culprits of a stinking fridge, including;

The dip tray or pan.

When your refrigerator defrosts drain, it goes into the drip pan. When this continues for a long time, it leads to the accumulation of water. Interestingly, only a few people know about this part of the fridge. Leaving the fridge for a long time without a thorough cleaning can lead to the accumulation of harmful contaminants in the pan, which can give off a terrible smell.

Dirty fridge interior.

Those food items or spills we hardly notice in the fridge are major contributors to foul smells. The only way to avoid or resolve this is to clean the fridge’s interior regularly. First, remove all the food and trash anything that’s gone off. Next, take out all the shelves and drawers for individual cleaning. Finally, clean the fridge’s interior, leave it to dry, and return the items inside.

An expired water filter.

You may perceive foul smells if your fridge’s water filter is due for a change. Leaving an expired water filter in a refrigerator with a water dispenser attracts various harmful bacteria and chemicals.
In the long run, these contaminants build up in your water supply and ice machine. In addition, the deterioration of the filter forces the fridge to malfunction. The water flow drops because the fridge is tired, causing a leak into other parts of the container. Not only refrigerator water filters, all water filters need to be changed regularly. This blog tells you how important replacing water filter is: Tips for Maintaining Your Home Water Filtration System

How do you get rid of the odor?

Your fridge or freezer is a crucial part of your kitchen. So, you cannot afford a breakdown of these appliances. Therefore, it is essential to adopt careful maintenance and thorough cleaning procedures to keep it running smoothly.

Clean the drip tray.

If you ever find your drip pan to be the source of the foul odor, then you must clean it thoroughly. Find the tray in your fridge and remove it completely. It is usually at the bottom, around the back. The ease of removing the drip tray differs across fridges. You can consult the user manual for more information on that.
Once you have removed the tray, take it to the sink, flush out all the accumulated water, and scrub it thoroughly. We recommend that you use a kitchen cleaning spray, hot water, and washing-up liquid.
Leave the washed drip tray to dry before replacing it in the fridge. The drip pan is a crucial part of your fridge, so you cannot afford to remove it for any reason.

Use an odor remover.

You can use odor absorbents to get rid of foul smells in your fridge. The most common option is baking soda, although you can use charcoal and coffee grounds.
Certain ClO2-based products are also now available, which are more effective than activated charcoal. These products can effectively remove impurities from the surfaces of vegetables and fruits, keeping the food fresh for longer.
Besides eliminating refrigerator food odors, they also remove bathroom sewer and moldy sweat smell. You can also have them in other areas of the home, including the wardrobes and shoe cabinets.

Regular filter replacement

Every refrigerator water filter has a lifespan, which is often stated on the website of the fridge manufacturer. This usually ranges between three and six months. Based on this lifespan, the providers also offer a specific filter-changing frequency.
The rule of thumb is to replace your refrigerator filter after six months of use. However, if you use more or less water than the average user, your replacement frequency may be slightly different.
Changing the filter timely is half the job; the other half is choosing a high-quality water filter replacement for your refrigerator. The most reliable and cost-effective water filters come from the stables of Waterdrop. You can count on all our refrigerator water filters to perform optimally. Our products are tested and certified against NSF standards for safe materials and excellent reduction capabilities. Finally, they are designed for 100% compatibility, just like the original.
If you don’t know what’s your refrigerator model number, check our previous blog: Where Can I Find My Refrigerator Model Number Or Water Filter Part Number?

In Conclusion

A smelly refrigerator can make your home’s interior inhabitable for everyone. There are various reasons behind this. Once you inspect your fridge and identify the sources of the smell, remove and trash them and follow this up by a thorough cleaning of your refrigerator.

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