If your household is anything like mine after a while the fridge starts to stink, even if you remove all the old food from it. Sometimes the smell still lingers even after a good cleaning.
But did you know that vinegar is a versatile liquid that can be used to both clean your fridge but also as a way to neutralize odors?
If you've got a bad smelling fridge like me here's how you can use vinegar to deodorize your fridge completely and have it smelling fresh again.
To deodorize your fridge with vinegar first empty your fridge and clean the walls and shelves with a vinegar spray. For further deodorization place boiled vinegar into a heat resistant bowl and place in your fridge. Let the bowl sit for several hours and the fumes will deodorize your fridge.
I then like to air out my fridge if possible so it doesn't retain a super strong vinegar smell.
Vinegar is a powerful odor-reducing agent, but only when it’s used properly. It can be used for both short-term odor neutralization or for long-term protection.
There are also some alternatives to vinegar you can try to make your refrigerator smell fresh and clean.
First, Clean Your Fridge With Vinegar
Did you know that vinegar naturally kills mold which is often the source of a bad smelling fridge?
To fully deodorize your fridge you ideally want to give your fridge a good clean first and then use a bowl of vinegar to fully deodorize everything.
To clean your fridge first remove the food and place inside a cooler with some ice packs so everything stays cold and doesn't get ruined.
Remove your shelves and wash them and spray the walls and door of your fridge with a vinegar spray. You can use 100% vinegar or a combination of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. I just go with 100% vinegar personally but I know some people like to use the weaker solution.
You may also want to spray the shelves with vinegar after giving them a wash/wipe.
Leave the vinegar on there for 1 hour (it takes about this long for the vinegar to kill the mold). Then respray and wipe all surfaces clean.
Now replace the shelves in your fridge but keep the food in your cooler for now.
Step 1 – Boil White Vinegar Over the Stove
Pour several cups of white vinegar into a saucepan and heat it over the stove until it comes to a full boil. Boiling vinegar causes it to release acetic acid into the air. This compound is exceptional at neutralizing alkaline odors.
Boiling vinegar makes it faster and more effective at removing odors from the surrounding air. If you want to make your refrigerator smell good fast, this is the way to do it.
You can just put room temperature vinegar into your fridge and it will still work to some degree. But it won't work as effectively as hot vinegar.
NOTE: Only Boil Vinegar in a Well-Ventilated Room
As vinegar is boiled, it releases acetic acid. This acid can be harmful to you if inhaled, and it’s not something you want building up in your home.
If you boil vinegar on your stove, keep the windows of your kitchen open and run the vent hood above your cooktop.
Vinegar vapors may feel like a mild irritant when inhaled, and if you notice any irritation, it’s important to stop boiling the vinegar and leave the room.
Be careful to ventilate your space fully, and you shouldn’t have any issues when boiling vinegar.
Step 2 – Add to a Heat-Resistant Bowl\
Once the vinegar is boiling well, carefully pour it into a heat-resistant bowl.
The bowl must be able to withstand high temperatures without becoming damaged. I tend to use glass or metal bowls for this and avoid plastic which can sometimes warp under high temperatures.
Step 3 – Place Bowl in the Refrigerator
Set the bowl of hot vinegar in your refrigerator. It will begin releasing fumes, some of which include acetic acid, into the space within your refrigerator.
The acetic acid will bind to molecules creating unpleasant smells in your refrigerator.
Leave the bowl of vinegar to sit in your refrigerator for an hour or two before removing it. After removing you may want to wipe down the walls and shelves of your fridge.
Your refrigerator should now have a fresher smell.
Step 4 – Repeat the Process
You can repeat the process of boiling vinegar and placing it in your refrigerator to neutralize odors.
Be cautious of repeatedly boiling the same vinegar; this could cause the acid levels to become concentrated and make it more corrosive to metals.
Step 5 – Add Cool Vinegar for Long-Term Protection
While not as effective as boiled vinegar, placing a cool bowl of vinegar in your refrigerator will help protect it from bad smells for weeks before it must be replaced.
You can also soak paper towels in vinegar and set them at the back of your refrigerator to help remove unpleasant odors.
If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, it’s best to leave it in the refrigerator for a short period before removing it to handle odors.
Dealing with refrigerator odors is one of the steps you can take to improve the flavor of your refrigerator’s ice from the ice maker.
Try Coffee Grounds or Baking Soda Instead
Instead of using vinegar to deodorize your refrigerator, you can try baking soda or coffee grounds to perform the same task.
Baking soda effectively neutralizes acid-based odor compounds, the opposite of what acetic acid from vinegar neutralizes. Open a box of baking soda and leave it in your refrigerator to start treating the odors within.
Coffee grounds are another potential solution for refrigerator odors. Add dried coffee grounds to your refrigerator in a large shallow dish, and you’ll infuse the space with the pleasant smell of coffee while removing odors from the air within.
Coffee grounds absorb odors, and many people enjoy their smell.
You can also purchase these fridge/freezer deodorizers (at Amazon) which work even more effectively than baking soda at absorbing and removing bad odors.
This deodorizer helps to keep your fridge or freezer fresh from bad smells. It doesn't have a strong fragrance itself but absorbs bad odors from the fridge. Food safe and non-toxic this is effective for 6 months (6 times longer than baking soda).