Why Does My Fridge Still Smell?

September 9, 2019

A smelly fridge is something which affects all of us, whether in our homes, offices or staff rooms. The majority of people won’t even give the fridge a thought. If we smell a particularly offensive odour, we might remove the mouldy or off food which is most likely the culprit, close the door and go on about our day. The truth is, that although out of date or mouldy food often is a source of a smelly fridge, the real reason that a fridge still smells is something that most of us will never learn. That is, of course, unless you read this article.

Why Might My Fridge Smell?

The initial culprits are the obvious ones. Check for mouldy food, curdled milk and food spills on the shelves. Once these have been removed and wiped, your fridge has a fighting chance at being less smelly. For a quick hack of deodorising, cut a lemon open and leave this exposed to the fridge. It is important within a food fridge not to spray chemicals like antibacterial chemicals into the fridge, even if empty as these smells can get into the food. To clean a fridge use soapy water.

I’ve Removed All The Food But My Fridge Still Smells

Now it is time for the hidden smells. Most fridges have glass shelves with plastic edge strips across the front, back or both. On initial inspection, these plastic strips, which are usually white, look clean. The trick is to take them apart. Fridge shelf edges can sometimes be firmly attached, and often require a good tug. Taking care not to smash the glass into a hard surface, it may be worth resting it on a tea towel or damp cloth whilst levering the strip away. Once apart, you would be amazed at the amount of yellow juice and black mould that can be found between the two. Door baskets could also do with a quick wash around the back. A sink or bucket of soapy water, an old toothbrush and a scourer and your fridge will be cleaner than you ever realised you could get it.


Why Does My Fridge Smell Around the Door?

The fridge door can smell, whether open or closed. This may well be due to the seal. Firstly fridge seals on an old fridge are likely to perish or come away from the door slightly. This makes a perfect hidey hole for bacteria and mould. On any fridge, new or old, you’ll see that the fridge seal is made of folded rubber. In each fold, you’ll likely find crumbs, coffee grounds, tea spills, mould, gunk and anything else you can think of. It is not always the top of the seal either. The side and bottom of the fridge seal can also be a cosy little home for food spills and therefore mould and bacteria. Each week, giving the fridge a quick wipe out with warm soapy water, including the fridge seal, makes a world of difference. Never use anything abrasive on a fridge seal as this could make small indents for bacteria to get trapped. Instead a soft cloth wiped gently between each fridge seal fold should do the job.

What Is that Hole At The Back Of The Fridge?

At the back of the fridge, there is a hole for condensation to drip down. This goes down a hidden tube and out the back of the fridge. One issue to be aware of is this hole becoming blocked with food. If condensation cant get out, food will go off more quickly. Now it is entirely possible that although you realise this hole lets condensation out as water, it it highly likely that you have never given a thought as to where it goes. You don’t have a big pool of water under your fridge, so it must just evaporate out the back right? Yes and no. Although this condensation does evaporate,  that is only after it has collected in a tray behind the fridge.

Why Does My Fridge Smell Like Something Died Behind It?

Now that we have learned that there is a tray behind a fridge which collects condensation water, we can now imagine what else might be there. That’s right, the largest colony of mould you’ve ever found in your house or office. The colours of mould found in a fridge condensation tray can be spectacular. Not all manufacturers make it easy to remove this tray, but that is a different blog entirely. Try looking up the manufacturer’s instructions for how to remove the tray, but at the very least, soak out the mouldy water, wipe it with bleach and do the best clean up you can do. No tray behind your fridge? It is possible that your fridge, especially if very old or second hand may be missing its collection tray. This means the mouldy water is likely collecting in the metal frame at the bottom of the fridge and all over your floor. Each time the fridge heats up behind, the smell of this mould becomes particularly like a dead animal and that is why it is noticed in waves. It is not so much that something died behind your fridge, but that something is living behind it.