11 Reasons Why Natural Solutions Kill Fridge Odors Better Than Chemical Cleaners

It happens to everyone. You come home from a long day, open up the refrigerator to grab a snack, and unexpectedly — whoof! — you get a nose full of nasty, spoiled fridge odor.

Whether your produce has suddenly gone bad or some leftovers have been forgotten, spoiled food odor quickly overtakes the insulated interior of your refrigerator. While plenty of housekeeping products exist on the market to mask odors, why risk putting chemicals so close to your food?

If your fridge's smell is extreme — because you went out of town for a while or simply hadn't noticed that the lettuce was on its way out — the first step to a fresher start is, of course, cleaning out that fridge! Toss all the old food, wash the inside, and regroup.

Whether your fridge is in need of some serious lingering odor elimination or you're simply looking to spruce things up a bit, look no further than one (or all) of the following all-natural fridge solutions.

Baking soda:
While an open box of baking soda stashed in the back of the fridge has been a tried-and-true odor eliminator since its invention, you aren't optimizing the compound's powers by keeping it in the packaging.

Spread baking soda out on a baking sheet and store it on a shelf until all of the odor is absorbed. By increasing the baking soda's exposed surface area, its properties are put to work more efficiently and fully.

To make your own semi-permanent baking soda odor absorber, fill an aluminum dredger — those shakers used by pastry chefs, usually made for sprinkling powdered sugar or flour — with sodium bicarbonate (the scientific name for baking soda). Top it off with some dried lavender, stick the lid on, and stash the dredger in the back of your fridge for up to three months. The lavender is simply for an extra burst of freshness; you can forgo it for an even more cost-effective version.

Between refills, keep your box of baking soda sealed airtight, or use the extra to freshen up the bathroom, bedroom, and dank basement... its odor eliminating powers are endless.

Activated charcoal:
Charcoal isn't only used for grilling tasty summertime meals. It's also very effective in all-natural odor elimination.

Be sure to get activated, additive-free charcoal granules, discs, or filters. Simply place in shallow dishes in your fridge and the foulness will be eliminated in a day or two.

You can also use cheesecloth and string to create little sachets of charcoal granules for a less conspicuous look. Hang these inside your fridge to save shelf space.

Essential oils:
Maybe you pride yourself on being responsible. Maybe you've never experienced the horror of all-encompassing pervasive fridge stink. If you're proactive and enjoy encountering a pleasant smell over a perfectly neutral, pH balanced lack of scent, create your own fridge perfume.

Simply dip a cotton ball in your favorite essential oil, such as vanilla, and enjoy a gentle waft every time you go in to grab a snack. For cost-effectiveness, you can also dilute the solution with water to make your bottle of oil last longer.

Here are 11 reasons why these three options are better than any chemical solutions:

  1. Sodium bicarbonate works by balancing the pH, or the acidity or basicity, of a substance. You can think of acids and bases just like hot and cold water: two extremes. On their own, they can disrupt a process or be overbearing. But when you mix even amounts of hot and cold water, you end up with a neutral balance.
  2. Baking soda acts as this balancer for acidity and basicity in your fridge.
  3. Baking soda is antiseptic and antibacterial. It's antimicrobial, meaning that it works to reduce putrefaction, or the process of decay due to bacteria.
  4. Baking soda is antifungal. Fungi like mold voraciously grow on chilled, moist food, such as refrigerated perishables.
  5. Baking soda and charcoal are much more affordable than chemical alternatives.
  6. Charcoal works by absorbing moisture, which commonly causes small enclosed spaces to smell musky and damp.
  7. Baking soda and charcoal work as odor eliminators. They don't just mask scents, but actually eradicate them sustainably.
  8. Essential oils such as lavender have been shown to reduce stress hormones in your blood and therefore have a healing effect mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  9. Essential oils smell better than fake chemical scents made in a lab.
  10. Essential oils are actually highly concentrated plant components — all-natural!
  11. All-natural solutions are better for your health! Chemical cleaners and odor absorbers have detrimental (and even more alarmingly, "unknown") effects on your health, and the last place you want to put them is right next to the food you eat.


How do you battle fridge odors in your kitchen? Share your tips with us here!

Sarah Kellner writes tips on appliances for The Home Depot. Sarah's natural solutions for cleaning refrigerators are designed to help you keep your kitchen in tip-top shape using bio-friendly choices. For a wide range of refrigerator models that you can use Sarah's tips on, you can visit www.homedepot.com.