5 Steps to Pinpointing That Awful Smell in Your Fridge

published Jun 30, 2017
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Susanna Hopler/vvoe)

No matter how often you clean and organize your fridge, it’s inevitable that things will smell funky in there from time to time. There’s just always something that goes unnoticed or somehow gets wrapped up incorrectly. But what could it possibly be?

Follow this five-step plan and you’ll pinpoint the offensive item (items?) in no time.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

1. Inspect your cheeses.

Cheese is almost always the culprit. At least it is in my house. The sliced stuff from the deli counter is probably not the problem (unless it’s very old!), but the wedges or blocks you picked up at the specialty cheese case can do a number on your fridge. Do you have some washed-rind cheeses in there? Anything that’s not wrapped up super well? A wedge that looks like blue cheese, which you’re fairly certain didn’t start off that way? The stink is most likely coming from some cheese.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

2. Look way, way back on every shelf.

As time goes on, the things you don’t use that often always manage to make their way to the back of the fridge. The back of the fridge is where items go to die and get covered up by newer stuff that’s used more often. If there’s a stench in your fridge and it’s not cheese, it’s probably something rotting in the very back. (It might even be cheese that’s hiding in the back!) Look on every shelf.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

3. Check all the lids and baggies.

If steps one and two don’t lead you to your culprit, I’d bet money there’s a problem with a lid on your leftovers. There’s a good chance a lid hasn’t been pushed down all the way. Inspect those plastic and glass food storage containers. If there are zip-top baggies in there, inspect the seal on those and make sure they’re closed up nice and tight.

(Image credit: Ken Tannenbaum)

4. Go through those produce drawers.

Still can’t find what’s amiss? Answer this: Did you buy some tomatoes last week — and then promptly forget about them? They might be starting to wilt or mush-ify. Obviously, the longer produce sits in there past its prime, the worse it’s going to smell (and look!).

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

5. Check the doors.

In a last-ditch effort to track down that smell, turn to that sauce collection that you’ve been building up every time you order takeout. It might be starting to reek. After all, leftover ginger dressing does not stay good all that long when stored in those plastic takeout cups. Those little condiments tend to get lost on doors and they’re also very likely to pop open and spill, which will lead to stinky smells.

More on Keeping Your Fridge in Tip-Top Shape

We actually want to know: What’s the grossest and stinkiest thing you’ve found hiding in your fridge?