How to Keep Your Fridge Smelling Fresh Naturally (10 easy tricks!)

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How to keep your fridge smelling fresh! 10 easy ways to deodorize your refrigerator naturally, and remove those bad odors for good.

How to keep your fridge smelling fresh! 10 easy ways to deodorize your refrigerator naturally, and remove those bad odors for good.

We’ve all experienced it. You open the fridge and make a face…because it smells funky!

You rack your brain and search the fridge, trying to figure out what the mystery source could be.

Sometimes even after you find the spoiled food, the refrigerator continues to stink.

Luckily, there are some easy ways to deodorize your fridge, and make sure it smells fresh all the time!

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How do you clean and deodorize a refrigerator?

Let’s start with the basics, because if you don’t do this first, no amount of deodorizing will work.

1. Clean the inside

To remove stuck on food and spills (and neutralize odors), follow these steps to disinfect it naturally:

  1. Remove all the food. Either one shelf and drawer at a time, or everything at once
  2. Throw away any food that has started to spoil. Make a plan to use anything that’s nearing the end of its prime, or put it in the freezer.
  3. Wipe down the shelves, drawers, and walls to remove all crumbs and spills. Use a mixture of half warm water, half vinegar (in a spray bottle), or a combination of warm water and dish soap. 
  4. Dry everything and put back the food

💡 Pro-tip: For especially stuck-on spills, make a paste with baking soda and water, and wipe with a sponge.

woman cleaning refrigerator with green gloves

How to deodorize your fridge naturally

Now that you’ve got a clean slate, you’ll need to know how to keep your fridge smelling fresh.

Here are the best refrigerator odor eliminator solutions to keep those rotten smells at bay. I’ve also included a recipe for a DIY fridge deodorizer that works for months!

But first, here are some ways to deodorize your fridge with stuff you probably have around the house.

2. Fresh coffee grounds

To deodorize your fridge quickly, place 1 cup of fresh coffee grounds in a bowl or jar, or on a plate in the back of your refrigerator.

3. Dry oats

Oats also have the power to absorb odors, so place 1 cup of dry oats into a bowl or jar inside your fridge.

4. Activated charcoal

A lesser known way to remove fridge odors is with activated charcoal. 

You can use premade sachets, and they work amazingly well as an odor eliminator!

They’re also super useful for your shoes, car, gym bag, closets, and drawers.


5. Baking soda

Place ½ cup of baking soda in a bowl, or on a plate in the back of the fridge. You can also use an Arm & Hammer Fridge-n-Freezer pack.

Replace the baking soda every 30 days.

💡 Pro-tip: If your fridge smells especially bad, sprinkle baking soda onto a sheet tray and leave overnight.

6. Citrus fruit

Slice a lemon, orange, or grapefruit in half, and place in a bowl or on a plate for a few days to freshen your refrigerator. 

Sprinkle it with salt to really bring out the citrus scent. 

You can use this method once to deodorize a bad smell, or replace it every few days on a regular basis. 

If you don’t want to ‘waste’ the fruit, you also just use the citrus peel, sprinkled with salt.

7. Refrigerator Deodorizer

This awesome little device removes smells within hours, and keeps your fridge or freezer odor-free for 6 months.

It’s completely food safe and fragrance free, AND extends the life of your fruits and veggies 2-4x longer!

It doesn’t get any easier than just placing it inside your fridge or freezer.


8. Vanilla extract

If you’d like your fridge to have a delicious vanilla scent, put a tablespoon or two of vanilla extract in a small bowl or ramekin.

9. White vinegar

Wet a paper towel, washcloth, or cotton ball with vinegar, and place it in a bowl in the back of the refrigerator.

👉 Want a free printable daily cleaning checklist you can use to keep your home tidy all the time? Sign up below to receive the instant download.

(Note: If you’re already a subscriber, it’s waiting for you in the Freebie Vault!)

10. The best refrigerator odor eliminator

Here’s the best DIY recipe I’ve found for deodorizing and freshening the inside of your refrigerator.

Combine these ingredients inside a glass jar:

  • 8 oz baking soda
  • ¼ cup natural sea salt
  • 3-5 drops of essential oil (lemon, orange, or grapefruit)

Place the open jar in the back of your refrigerator. Make a fresh mixture every 1-2 months for ongoing freshness.

glass jars with baking soda and wooden spoon

How do I keep my fridge fresh?

In addition to the tips above, there are things you can do to prevent the bad odors from returning.

Clean it regularly

Clean up spills and stuck-on food immediately, and wipe down shelves and drawers at least every other month. 

Vacuum the coils once or twice a year, or more if you have shedding pets. This will also help ensure your fridge runs efficiently and lasts a long time.

Maintain the correct temperature 

Set your fridge to 36-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Any colder and it wastes energy and can freeze things. Warmer temperatures cause food to spoil faster. 

Place a small thermometer in a few different places to check for even temperature. If there are great variances, your fridge may need to be repaired or replaced.

front of stainless steel refrigerator showing temperature

Change air filter regularly 

If your refrigerator has an air filter, change it every 6 months, or as is recommended by the manufacturer.

Store food properly 

Use airtight storage containers. They keep food fresh longer and contain odors. 

Keep your produce in the crisper, and meat and cheese in the deli drawer. 

Styrofoam and cardboard takeout containers don’t contain odors well at all. If you aren’t planning to eat your leftovers quickly, put the contents in a storage container.

Check refrigerator contents regularly 

Check on and clean out perishable food once or twice a week. 

Grocery shop with a meal plan so you have a plan for everything you buy. 

Use labels or masking tape to write the dates to use food by on leftovers.

woman with brown hair checking expiration date on milk in front of refrigerator

Create a ‘fresh refrigerator’ routine

Here’s an example of an odor-free fridge weekly routine: 

  1. Once a week, sort through the contents of your fridge. 
  2. Wipe up any spills and crumbs, and wipe down door handles (with a vinegar and water solution or anti-bacterial wipes). 
  3. Toss any food that’s past its prime. Freeze anything you won’t use before spoiling, and make a plan to use the rest. 
  4. Add whatever you’re getting low on to your grocery list. 

💡 Pro-tip: Don’t go crazy at the store, tempted by the gorgeous produce section. Only buy what you’ll realistically use before it spoils.

Ready to keep your fridge smelling fresh?

I hope you’re anxious to try some of these deodorizing tips and tricks.

They really do work!

Side note: If you fridge continues to smell bad even after cleaning and implementing these tips, it may be in need of repair.

For more cleaning hacks, be sure to check out:

How to keep your fridge smelling fresh! 10 easy ways to deodorize your refrigerator naturally, and remove those bad odors for good.

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