How to Remove Fish Smell from Your Refrigerator

Authorized Service
March 6, 2024
Refrigerator Repair

Dealing with unpleasant odors in your refrigerator is always stressful, and fish smells might be the most unpleasant of all! It can permeate the inside of your fridge and even lead to your entire kitchen smelling. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to solve this issue. With a deep clean and some odor prevention strategies, your fridge can smell clean and fresh again in no time at all! Read on to find out what to do!

Where did the fish smell come from?

Unsurprisingly, the most common source of a fishy smell in your refrigerator is fish. But if you haven’t had fish in your refrigerator recently, you might be puzzled about the source of the smell. Often, it can be due to other types of spoiled foods, especially meat and eggs. When these break down, they release a compound with a distinctly fishy smell, which can be hard to get out of your fridge. Other foods such as cruciferous vegetables, dairy, and seed oils can also smell similar to fish when they begin to go bad. 

Find and remove the source of the smell

If you’ve only just noticed the fishy smell in your refrigerator, you may be able to solve the issue simply by removing the source of the smell. If you’re not sure of the source, check any fish or meat products first. You can also smell individual items in your fridge to help you identify the source of the smell. 

Once you’ve removed the offending food item, check around the area to ensure there are no spills or fluids surrounding the area, as these can also be a source of smells. If you catch the spoiled item early enough, you may not need to do a deep cleaning of your fridge. However, if the smell lingers, you’ll need to move on to the next step in our guide. 

Deep clean your refrigerator

Fish smells can be pervasive, and if your fridge still smells after removing the source of the smell, you’ll need to do a deep clean to ensure that your fridge is odor-free.

Follow these steps to get your fridge smelling clean and fresh:

  1. Remove everything from the fridge’s interior. Now is a good time to check expiry dates and do a “smell test” on all your food. You may think you’ve removed the source of the smell, but it’s possible that there was more than one spoiled item in your fridge. 
  2. Remove all shelves and compartments from your fridge, and place them in a solution of warm, soapy water. They can soak while you do the rest of the cleaning. 
  3. Make a cleaning solution. Many people prefer to use natural cleaning solutions on their fridges, as it’s important to only use food-safe ingredients. Equal parts of water and white vinegar are a great option and can be left to dry instead of being rinsed off. 
  4. Use a moist cloth or sponge to wipe down the interior of your fridge. Pay special attention to any cracks and crevices where odor-causing bacteria can linger. 
  5. After wiping away any visible grime, spray the entire interior with the vinegar and water mixture and use a clean cloth to evenly distribute it around the interior. Leave it to dry instead of wiping it away—this will help to kill bacteria. 
  6. Use the same water and vinegar solution to wipe down all the food items before you return them to your fridge. 
  7. Ensure that all the soaking shelves are clean and dry before you return them to the fridge’s interior. 

How to absorb lingering odors

If you’ve deep-cleaned your fridge and still feel like there’s a lingering unpleasant smell, don’t despair! Sometimes, when spoiled food sits in a refrigerator for a long time, it can begin to permeate the interior of the refrigerator and can take a while to dissipate. To speed up the process, we recommend placing an odor absorber in your fridge to help get rid of the smell. Some great options include:

  • An open box of baking soda: Baking soda neutralizes and absorbs odors, helping to ensure your fridge smells clean and fresh. It’s simple to use, too—just open a box and place it in your fridge. Replace every three months for best results. 
  • Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal works thanks to its porous nature; it literally traps particles that cause bad smells! Place a container of activated charcoal in your fridge or in a bowl. 
  • Coffee grounds: Coffee grounds are not only a great natural way to absorb odors, but they leave your fridge smelling pleasantly of coffee! Both fresh and used grounds work—but you’ll need to replace them every couple of weeks for best results. 
  • Commercial odor absorbers: There are many odor absorbers on the market that you can use to ensure your fridge smells fresh and clean. This is also a convenient option and can be less messy than having an open container of baking soda or coffee grounds in your fridge. 

Preventing fish smells in the future

The best way to avoid fish smells in your fridge is prevention. Here are our top tips:

  • Pay attention to dates: Be aware of when your food is due to expire, and throw it away or use it before it goes bad. 
  • Check your fridge regularly: Once a week, try checking through your fridge items to make sure there’s nothing that needs to be thrown away. 
  • Store things properly: Improper storage is one of the biggest causes of spoiled food—make sure everything is stored in a sealed, airtight container.
  • Clean spills immediately: Always wipe up any spills in your fridge right away, as these can lead to odor issues in the future.

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