If you let old food linger or even if you go months without cleaning your refrigerator, you can kind of expect the appliance to form a bit of a funky odor. However, if you have broken out that vinegar and baking soda, wiped down all the surfaces, and still smell a distinctly gross smell from your refrigerator, it is time to investigate some of the lesser-known causes of stink in this appliance.
Check Under the Refrigerator
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes spills or food fallen from the refrigerator gets kicked under it, and nature takes its course. Some things will harmlessly dry up, but sometimes mold and other bacteria start to grow in that environment. Typically, you will notice the smell even when you just get near the appliance.
Check the Drip Pan
The drip pan is designed to catch the small amount of water that comes from the defrost function. In a normal functioning refrigerator, the defrost only produces a slight amount of moisture, which will harmlessly evaporate in the drip pan. However, if it produces more moisture than the drip pan can evaporate off or food particles end up in there, it can cause smelly growth. You may catch a distinct waft of it when opening the refrigerator.
Of course, if a full drip pan is the cause, you may also want to investigate why your defrost is producing so much moisture.
Change the Air Filter
When you clean your refrigerator, part of the process should be to change the air filter. This part actually traps a lot of the bad smells. While most add a box of baking soda inside the appliance to soak up bad odors, a dirty air filter can be making both the baking soda and the filter a moot point. They cancel each other out if the filter is dirty. Changing the filter can be done as easily as changing the air filter on your HVAC. You simply need to consult your owner’s manual to find out where the air filter is located in your refrigerator.