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  Bad Smells From a Fridge

The causes of smells in fridges and how to solve the problem

Cleaning a fridge or a fridge freezer is not as simple a chore as it sounds, especially if it has involved a spillage of some kind.

inside the fridge with a view of the egg rack We get a lot of calls over the course of the year that there is a reported fault of "bad smell from fridge", before we go any further let me point out that there are no components, mechanical or gaseous in a fridge that smell as a general rule.

In virtually every single case the smell is from a foreign substance in the appliance, usually spillage, that will cause this to happen.

The first are to check in a self defrosting fridge (not an air driven frost-free) is the drain channel at the back. Typically this is known as a "wet-wall" fridge, the moisture formed by the condensation proccess gathers on the back wall or, in older models, on the evaporator plate also located on the back wall of the appliance. This moisture forms small droplets of ice as the fridge cools and turns back to liquid form as the fridge enters a defrost cycle.

Obviously that water has to go somewhere!

In almost all appliances of this type there is a drain hole below that wall, or plate, that the water runs into this goes to a tube that deposits the water in a tray on the compressor (motor). The heat from the motor evaporates the liquid into the air harmlessly. Often that drain hole can get blocked and this can lead to water in the fridge another fault caused by poor cleaning, check that first if you do have a problem as it may well not be a fault covered by warranty. If that drain is blocked, or partially blocked with spilled foodstuff then it can create a terrible smell in the fridge as the foodstuffs decompose as well as presenting a potential health risk.

We can also assure you that Ragu sauce or something of that ilk that has been there for a month or two is pretty rancid!

The next are to look at is the door seals. But not on the surface of them, if you gently pull the seal away from the door you will see a cavity where spilled (in particular, liquids like milk) foodstuffs can be trapped, again leading to a bad smell as they decompose and, again, a potential health risk.

Shelf, particularly door shelves, should be removed regularly and thoroughly cleaned with proper detergents as this can also lead to odour problems.

A good thing to clean the inside of a fridge with is a lemon based agent, or lemon juice itself as being acidic it does cut through most grease etc. whilst leaving a pleasant odour. If you have had an odour problem leaving a lemon, cut in half in the fridge wil help remove any lingering smells.

Of course there are more effective ways of cleaning out the fridge and keeping smells at bay by using commercial products such as we sell in our store. For fridges you can see cleaning products from this link and, to keep smells at bay we find that both our Igloo fridge de-odouriser and the fridge mat do work well in this respect.

But recently we've also seen the introduction of the Kuro Cube, a neat little cube of charcoal that absorbs the smells in your fridge for up to a year meaning that you can have the odour eating ability of large American fridge freezers with their active carbon or charcoal filters without the cost. You can buy a Kuro Cube from this link

As has been pointed out since we forgot, you can also check the tray that collects water on the top of the compressor at the back (motor, black bottle type thing with the pipes coming out of it) as foodstufs can work its way down there and create an awful smell. Calcium build up can also occur there, again leading to a bad smell. (Thanks to Tinhips for the reminder)

Maaija Sinclair
Broken chest freezer
My chest freezer was in storage for a year. Switched off and cleaned. It worked perfectly before I moved it to a new location. It wasn't damaged in transit as I moved it my self. When I turned it on the motor would start and it initially froze however then it stopped. I can't get it to work and was wondering if anyone could give me advice on my next move please?
Maaija Sinclair
Chest freezer broken
I have an old Zanussi chest freezer (small) which had been unplugged but kept dry clean and at indoor temp for a year. I've now moved to my new home it and turned it however after a few minutes the noises from motor stop and its not freezing. It worked perfectly before and it hasn't been damaged in transit. Could someone advise please?
candy fridge freezer
i bought a candy fridge freezer about 3 months ago and have a problem with bad smells, i have even washed it out, have bicarb and vinegar to soak up the smell but still it reeks. there are no spills and the hole is not blocked. beginning to regret my purchase
Hello there, Just found your comment as have a Candy Fridge-Freezer which is smelling appalling. 2 weeks ago a tray of chicken livers was knocked over and not spotted so seaped into fridge overnight! Been so bad, cleaned everything but on reading your comment and White Goods experts I decided to take a further look. I have just discovered that the plate which seems to run over the joint between top fridge and bottom freezer, has a very slight gap so the blood ran out off shelf, down past salad crisper drawer and then waterfalled over edge and found its way behind said plate. Taken ages to clean but that's the prob for me. Hope this helps. Sandra R
i have a candy frost-free fridge freezer and the smell is just over powering,i have cleaned drain,cleaned the fridge bought lemon,deodorize rs and nothing working.When it happened before i turned it of for 2 days and smell gradually went but a month later its back with fury and i cant even be in kitchen when door is opened,PLEASE HELP
Kenneth Watt
The smell should clear in time but usually I'd suggest stripping all the shelves out the fridge, the trays and cleaning them in warm soapy water and cleaning the inside of the fridge with kitchen cleaner that contains bleach. That should help clear it faster.
Rita Rice
Whilst on holiday my electrics were cut off therefore defrosting all sorts of foods such as meat and fish. Is there any way of getting rid of this odour other than replacing the fridge/freezer?
sad :-? I am living abroad in Prague, and in my flat I did a routine clearing out of the built up frost/ICE masses in the freezer.Immediately, almost during the process I noticed a foul smell, chemical in nature as that of motor oil or a burned out motor something of the sort. At the same time a whirling/purring noise started up.Also, it seems like there is a sound of some leak, like a spurt,spray or gaseous leak above the freezer area...?Should I be worried about this or will the thing sort itself out?

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