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Kenmore Refrigerator Odor Problems (How to Fix)

Fridges are designed to be airtight so that they keep the cold air in. This has the disadvantage of trapping any bad odors that develop inside a fridge. Here is specifically how to remove an odor problem from a Kenmore fridge.

In general, inspect each item in your fridge to see if it’s giving off a bad odor, and throw it out. If the item leaked residue onto the interior of your fridge, wipe it out completely, and once clean, spray and leave any type of vinegar on the area for a few minutes to neutralize the odor.

bad smell of refrigerator

Typically, odors will soak into the micro pores in the walls of a fridge. They also take a long time to completely break down and stop giving off an odor because of the cooler temperatures inside of a fridge or freezer. Therefore, wiping down the interior of your fridge with any type of vinegar will kill any bacteria, and break down anything that is causing bad odors.

Once you’ve done that, turn your fridge off and leave the doors open for 15 to 20 minutes. Ideally, create good air flow into and around your fridge by using a fan, or leaving the windows and doors open around where your fridge is located.

Doing so will create fresh air inside your fridge. After that, put everything back in your fridge and turn it back on. Finally, leave a small plate with about a quarter inch (5 mm) or baking soda somewhere in your fridge

Why Your Kenmore Refrigerator Smells Bad

bad smell of refrigerator

Generally, a fridge should have a mild odor at the most. But, it’s fairly common for a very bad smell to develop in a fridge, and linger even after it has been cleaned.

In general, something in the drip tray is causing the odor, there are invisible particles causing smells on the surfaces of the compartments, trays, racks or walls of your fridge, or something spilled or leaked and the smell is stored in the ice, producing an odor during the defrost cycle.

Overall, it’s best to start with some simple fixes such as using special cleaners, and inspecting all the items in your fridge to locate anything that smells bad. After that, you may need a technician to inspect the internal components to see if something is in there that is causing the smell.

Here are the reasons why your fridge smells bad, and why they cause it to happen.

1. There is something causing a bad odor in the drip tray

There is a drip tray on the underside of a fridge. It collects water vapor that accumulates on the evaporator to stop it dripping onto the floor. It will dry out faster than the water can accumulate. 

Dead insects or a dead rodent may be located there. Or, mold may have started to grow. The fan that draws in air to cool and blow it into your fridge, can pick up the odor from the drip tray and blow them into your fridge. 

The drip tray is typically a bit tricky to get to, and you need to remove a few screws or pull off a panel to access it. Refer to the owners manual for your specific make and model of fridge to see how to access the drip tray. If you’ve tried all of the above, then you need to have a repair technician take a look at it. 

2. There is invisible food residue on the inside of your fridge

When a spill occurs, after you wipe it up there can be microscopic food residue where the spill was. It will release odors over time. A fridge also doesn’t have air flow that draws the air inside it out and away. 

So, even small smells can accumulate over time and remain in your fridge. This is especially true for food like fish, meat, and other animal products. These have enzymes which take a long time to break down. 

To get rid of the source you need to use a special cleaner. The most recommended is any type of vinegar. It breaks down the source of the smell. 

Also placing items that absorb the smell, or turning off your fridge and leaving the doors open to let it air out works very well. An open container of baking soda or coffee ground works well to neutralize odors in a fridge. 

It’s more convenient to place one or both of these on the inside of your fridge. Most people report about 2 days is enough to neutralize any bad odors remaining in a fridge, after you have removed the source of the odors.

3. A bad smell is stored in the ice in your freezer

If there was a leak in the freezer it can get stored in the ice. During normal operation your fridge does a defrost cycle, and the ice in your fridge partially melts. When this happens it blows the bad odors into your freezer and fridge. To fix this issue inspect the ice to see if you can identify a spill. If not, and if you have tried all the above steps remove the items from your fridge and freezer. And unplug your fridge. Let all the ice melt, and wipe down all of the surfaces using vinegar. That sums it up for all of the top reasons why your fridge smells bad.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on 2023-02-21.

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