Bad smells in your fridge

How to remove bad smells from our fridge

We all know that the best way to get rid of a bad tenant is to evict them. Right? Bad smells in your fridge are no different. In fact, finding the cause of the smell could become more of a project than anticipated. You will most likely need to take a methodical approach to deal with it. What if you empty the fridge out completely and the smell remains? Follow these easy steps to remove that bad smell and keep them out.

Remove everything

Even if you believe that you know what the offending item is, remove everything. Decay can spread from one item to another quite quickly. Removing everything means that you can check everything and make sure that there is no offending growth on the containers of otherwise well sealed food items too. If the food has gone bad as a result of power failure, then check carefully. On average food can last for four hours if the refrigerator door has not been opened. If in doubt, discard.

Clean the fridge furniture

What You Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of bleach
  • 4 litres of water

Remove all the shelves, trays and bins. Wash them using hot soapy water. In situations where the smell is particularly bad, mix a teaspoon of bleach with about 4 litres of water. Wash the fridge furniture with this and then then rinse off with warm water and dry. Remember to wash the shelves too and wipe the inside walls of the fridge with a clean cloth that has been soaked in this solution.

Clean the fridge furniture

Clean the interior

What You Need:

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 4 litres of water

Make up a solution of 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda to four litres of water. Wipe down the all the interior surfaces with a sponge that has been soaked in this mixture. To remove embedded food particles, dip the sponge in some bicarb directly and then scrub gently. The food particles should come away with ease. Don’t use steel wool or abrasives. Especially the pads as they can damage the interior lining of the fridge.

Airing the fridge

Ideally the fridge should be left to stand with the door open, for a day. This can be exceptionally inconvenient, so plan ahead with a neighbour or relative to keep your essential items cool for you. If the smell is particularly unpleasant wipe the interior down again and keep it open for another day. Don’t forget to unplug the fridge.

Cotton balls in vanilla

Introducing a pleasant fragrance

Having experienced the smell of decay you may want to maintain a pleasant smell in the fridge once it has been cleaned thoroughly. By dipping a few small cotton balls in vanilla, you can create a pleasant fragrance. Place the balls in the freezer and/or fridge before restocking it and the fridge will hold a pleasant aroma.

Tackling the evaporator

Should you discover that after all this effort the smell just won’t go away, it is probable that the evaporator coils have been permeated with the smell. The evaporator is what produces cold air for the fridge and freezer. Together with the fan that distributes the air it is easy to understand how grime lodged in the evaporator can keep that nasty smell going. This coil is usually located to the rear of the appliance in the interior.

To clean the evaporator, you will need to remove the cover by unscrewing it. Ensure that the appliance is unplugged as you will have to unplug the electronic controls next to the evaporator. Wash the panel that you have just unscrewed and wash it on both sides in the cleaning solution that you have made up. Spray the evaporator coils with warm soapy water and capture the runoff at the bottom with an old cloth. Repeat the process until there is no more grime running off. Then repeat this but using clean warm water to rinse off the soap. It is important that the coil is left to air dry completely before you screw the panel back on.

Remember that some modern refrigerators have dual coils, one for the freezer and one for the fridge. If the smell is only in the one or the other, you will only need to clean the coils in the offending compartment.

Bringing in the professionals

A fridge that repeatedly produces a problem with bad smells may have a problem with its thermostat. If this is the case calling in an experienced fridge repair engineer may the solution. A reputable refrigeration technician will be able to test the thermostat to see if this is the problem and repair and replace on site. A simple thermostat replacement is far cheaper than replacing a fridge and certainly a sure way to get rid of recurring smells.

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