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Get Rid of Smell From an Unplugged Fridge (6 Easy Steps)

Cropped View Of Man Holding Unplugged Power Cord Of Fridge Isolated On White

Smelly fridges are unpleasant; you cannot store food in them because of the bad odor.

You may have left expired food in it for a long time, which is one of the major causes of fridge odor. But even if your fridge is free of such foods, a bad smell can still accumulate because of bacteria, microbes, and mold.


Whether you use it or not, taking care of your fridge is essential. You should first clean your fridge thoroughly when any foul odor comes out of your fridge due to an expired item or bacteria.

  • The smell in an unplugged fridge can be due to bad food, mold, insufficient ventilation, or excessive chemicals.
  • To eliminate an unpleasant odor from your fridge, you can use either a mixture of baking soda and water or bleach.
  • You can also try natural smell removers like coffee grounds, apple cider vinegar, and activated charcoal.
  • Keep the fridge doors open for a few hours to let the air circulation dissipate the smell.

In this article, I will help you understand the causes of foul odors and how to remove foul odors from your unplugged fridge. Read on to find out!

4 Main Causes of a Smelly Unplugged Fridge

Fridges can get awfully smelly over time, and here are several contributing factors:

  1. Bad food storage. Food left out of the fridge for a long time will spoil and develop an unpleasant smell.
  2. Overuse of chemicals. Fridges are often filled with cleaning solvents, which can cause them to emit an unpleasant odor.
  3. Mold growth. If there is water damage or mold inside the fridge, it may release a foul smell.
  4. Bad ventilation. Poor ventilation can allow bad smells to accumulate in an unplugged fridge.

How To Remove Smell From an Unplugged Fridge?

Here’s how to remove the smell from an unplugged fridge in six simple steps:

  1. Remove any food items from the fridge.
  2. Use baking soda and water to clean it.
  3. Wash every removable part separately.
  4. Open the fridge doors for a few hours.
  5. Clean the evaporator.
  6. Use a commercial fridge odor cleanser.

Let’s discuss each step in detail.

1. Remove All the Food Items

Empty Open Refrigerator

Check every area of your fridge and take out all the food items. If any of the items are expired or spoiled — one of the reasons for fridge odor — throw them away.

In addition, if your fridge has been out of use and unplugged for a long time, you should find out if there are any containers or jars inside, as they might be one of the reasons why your refrigerator smells.


If your fridge was running before and food was stored inside, you can keep the good food in a cooler while you are doing the cleaning. It will ensure that your unspoiled food is not ruined.

2. Make the Mixture of Baking Soda and Water

Spoonful Of Baking Soda On Water

It is preferable to use natural products to eliminate the smell from the refrigerator because they don’t contain any hazardous chemicals and can both deodorize and clean the appliance. One of the best methods to clean your fridge is to make a mixture of baking soda and water.

For this procedure, the items that you need are:

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • Dish sponge
  • Toothbrush

Mix the baking soda and water, then dip your dish sponge. After this, lightly squeeze it and scrub the inside part of your fridge.

To clean any small parts, such as the corner of your fridge, you can use a toothbrush as it is more convenient.

You can also use bleach, which is ideal for diminishing bad smells and bacteria.

Also, if your fridge has been closed for a long time, it is one of the best things to use. You have to take one tablespoon of bleach and mix it in a gallon of warm water.

Use this mixture to clean your fridge’s interior, and rinse it with normal water or a damp sponge. Lastly, dry your fridge by using a rag or dish towel.

While doing this step, clean every part of your fridge because the smell can come from anywhere.

3. Wash Every Removable Part of the Fridge

Cropped View Of Woman In Rubber Gloves Cleaning Refrigerator With Detergent Isolated On White

As you have scrubbed the interior of your fridge, the next step is to take out and wash every removable part, such as the shelves and vegetable drawers. Use the baking soda and water mixture to wash them properly.

Nevertheless, you should not use the scrubbing part of the dish sponge on any part of the fridge made of plastic or glass because it can leave scratches on it. After washing them, ensure to dry all the fridge parts and put them back inside.

4. Open the Fridge Doors for a Few Hours

Refrigerator With Open Doors

Open the fridge doors for a few hours to eliminate bad odor. This will allow the air to circulate, and the smell should dissipate.

Important Note

Ensure no food rots inside the fridge when opening the doors.

If the fridge still smells bad, try placing a bowl of baking soda inside it. Leave the baking soda in the fridge for 24 hours, letting it absorb the bad odor, then remove it and vacuum up any residue.

5. Clean the Fridge Evaporator

Repairing A Frozen Evaporator In A No-Frost Refrigerator Vertical

If your fridge smells bad, it could be because the evaporator coils are dirty. Cleaning the coils will eliminate the smell and keep your fridge running efficiently. To clean the coils, unplug the fridge and remove the coils from the back.

Vacuum the coils with a brush attachment, then rinse them with water. Dry the coils before putting them back in place, and plugging the fridge back in afterwards.

6. Use a Commercial Fridge Odor Cleanser

Woman's Hands In A Yellow Rubber Protective Glove And A Blue Sponge Washes, Cleans Refrigerator Shelves.

If your fridge still smells bad after cleaning all the components, you can use a commercial fridge odor cleanser to eliminate the smell.

These products are designed to remove odors from fridges and can be very effective. Simply follow the instructions on the product, and it should get rid of the bad smell in your fridge.

5 Natural Odor Removers for Your Unplugged Fridge

Unfortunately, many of the odor-removing products that are marketed specifically for fridges just don’t work that well.

Here are five natural odor removers that are effective in eliminating bad smells from your fridge.

1. Baking Soda

Baking Soda And Glass Of Water

Baking soda is one of the most commonly used odor removers for refrigerators. It is odorless, making it ideal for neutralizing or absorbing other smells. You just need to have a box of baking soda, open it, and store it inside your fridge.

Bad odors may start to emerge again inside your fridge, and when you notice this, throw out the stored baking soda and replace it with a new box.

Apart from this, you can take a baking sheet and pour all the baking soda on it. After this, place this sheet inside your fridge overnight. This method is useful as it will help you remove all the foul smells at once.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Vinegar In Glass Bottle Isolated On White

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is also used to remove fridge odors. You just have to mix one part of ACV with three parts of water and boil this mixture. When it starts to boil, pour the mixture into a metal bowl or a heat-resistant glass bowl.

Keep this bowl inside your fridge and close its door for around 4 to 6 hours. After this, remove this mixture from the fridge and throw it away. By this time, you will notice a fruity smell coming from your fridge.

3. Coffee Grounds

Bowl Of Ground Coffee And Beans Isolated On White Background, Top View

Coffee grounds can remove the foul smell from your unplugged fridge. However, if you use this method, ensure you have a lot of time in hand because this option requires more time for it to work. So try this only if you are not using your fridge or have another one at home.

You just need fresh coffee grounds and a few baking sheets. Then, spread the dry coffee grounds on your baking sheets and place them inside the fridge for around 3 to 4 days.

When you take the baking sheets out, you will notice no unpleasant smell but the smell of coffee grounds.

4. Unscented Cat Litter

A Cute Red Cat Sits In A Pink Tray And Holds A Scoop With Its Paw.

Some people might not like the scent of coffee grounds in their fridges. If you are one of them, use unscented cat litter instead of coffee grounds. You just have to get cat litter, spread it out on 2 or 3 baking sheets, and place them inside the shelves.

Keep these baking sheets inside for around 2–3 days. Doing this will remove any bad odor from your fridge instantly.

5. Activated Charcoal

Bamboo Charcoal And Powder On Wooden Table. Copy Space

All the methods mentioned are ideal for removing the smell from the fridge. But if the smell is extremely strong and does not go away even after using these methods, use activated charcoal.

You need to have 1 cup of loose activated charcoal and fill it inside 2 to 3 small cloth bags. Place them inside your fridge and set the temperature to low.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to shut the door and not open it for a few days.

If you opt for this method, the smell will disappear within 4 days. However, you can keep your food inside the fridge while doing this method, because they remain unaffected even when kept together with charcoal in your refrigerator.

While doing any of the mentioned methods, you can keep vanilla-soaked cotton balls inside your fridge, as they will leave a pleasant scent behind.


To get rid of the smell from an unplugged fridge, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water or bleach.

Apart from this, you should use natural smell removers, such as coffee grounds, apple cider vinegar, activated charcoal, etc.

Whenever you feel like your fridge has an unpleasant odor, check out this guide and use these effective methods to prevent the smell.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Refrigerator Get Moldy if Unplugged?

If you unplug your refrigerator, mold may start to grow inside of it. This is because mold needs moisture to survive, and mold can start to grow without the constant cool temperature provided by a fridge.

Is It OK To Leave the Empty Refrigerator Unplugged?

It’s perfectly fine to leave an unplugged refrigerator empty. If you regularly clean out your fridge and make sure there isn’t any old or expired food inside of it, then you can safely leave it unplugged for extended periods without having to worry about anything going wrong.

Will a Refrigerator Work After Being Unplugged for Years?

After being unplugged for years, a new refrigerator should work. If it is particularly old, the seals in the cooling system might dry up and leak when plugged in again, which would be a problem.

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