Something Smelling Rotten? Here’s How to Freshen Up a Smelly Refrigerator

We’ve all been there. You open up the fridge to get dinner going and it hits you…an unpleasant smell. When was the last time that you cleaned and freshened up your fridge? We clean the kitchen constantly but the fridge often gets forgotten. It can be a daunting task with everything to clean around, but we’re here to help you learn how to freshen up a smelly refrigerator. Read on to learn more!


Remove everything from the fridge. Clear off your counters, tables, and even clean areas of your floor if you have a lot of items. If you are going to keep the fridge open for awhile while cleaning it, it might be best to unplug the fridge to save energy. The idea is to effectively clean your entire fridge, which means even things that you know are still good need to be removed. If anything is obviously rotten, throw it out. You might be shocked at what’s lurking in the back of the fridge. Oh yes, that dreaded mystery item in the Tupperware container. Might be best to breath through your mouth and move quickly while disposing that.

Give It a Good Sniff

Once you’ve disposed of any obvious offenders, start checking “use-by” and “best-by” dates and sniffing anything that you’re unsure of. These dates may not always accurate. If someone didn’t seal the bag of shredded mozzarella, then it can definitely be growing something long before the “use-by” date. If you’re worried about wasting food, see what dates you can ignore. You can also move straight onto the smell test if something still seems safe to eat. The smell test is probably the worst part of the process, but if trying to eliminate a smell the best way to do that is to open something up and smell it. If it smells fine, put it in your “smells good” pile. If not, throw it away.

Wipe It Down

If possible, remove any shelves or drawers to make them easier to wash. Start with filling the drawers with water and vinegar (or dish soap) so they can soak. To remove any debris, liquid spills, or soft grime wipe down the shelves and the interior of the refrigerator with warm water and vinegar.

Extra Scrubbing

After you’ve wiped everything down you’ll want to get some gloves on so you can give everything a deep clean. Use a gentle sponge to get rid of any stuck-on grime. If a particular area is being more stubborn, make a paste out of water and baking soda and let it sit on the spot for a few minutes. Avoid using chemical cleaners with strong smells as you don’t want chemical smells to get into your food.

Rinse With Water

Once you’re done wiping and scrubbing, rinse it with water. You can use a microfiber cloth or sponge with warm water. If it’s easier, use a spray bottle to reach the back of the fridge. This will remove any residual smells and residue from the shelves. Before putting everything back into the fridge be sure to dry all of the surfaces.

Put The Good Food Back

Now it’s time to fill up your clean, fresh-smelling fridge. If possible, put things that are about to go bad near the front of the refrigerator so you remember to use them sooner rather than later. We’d hate for something to start smelling again in the near future!

How to Maintain the Freshness

That was a lot of work, so lets try to keep it fresh! Here are a few pointers:

  • Place a container of baking soda in the back of your fridge to help absorb any new odors.
  • Use labels with dates on any leftovers going into the fridge.
  • When you’re cleaning your kitchen, make a habit of checking the fridge for any outdated food. If you have the time, wipe down the walls and shelves of your refrigerator.

If you’ve let your fridge (and kitchen) get out of hand, why not hire a professional home cleaning company? At Primavera Cleaning, we know how to freshen up your fridge and make your kitchen sparkle! Contact us or get a free quote today!!