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KitchenAid Refrigerator Odor Problems (How to Fix)

Often things can go off in the fridge, even in the most well known and quality brands like KitchenAid. Once you notice a bad odor it’s a quick and easy decision to throw out anything that is causing it, but often bad odors can linger, or develop from some unknown source. Here is how to fix odor problems with a KitchenAid fridge.

In general, first wipe down all the surfaces in your fridge using any type of vinegar. Let the vinegar sit on the surfaces for a few minutes, and then wipe the surfaces down with plain water a few times to remove all the vinegar. If the odors persist, then inspect and/or clean the drip tray.

bad smell of refrigerator

A drip tray is also called an evaporator drain pan. As you may be aware, KitchenAid is made by the same company that makes Whirlpool, and Maytag. To get at the evaporator pan can be a bit tricky depending on what model of KitchenAid fridge you have.

The drip tray can have mold growing in it, that is producing a bad smell that gets sucked into the air intake at the rear of your fridge. In rare cases, people have found dead rodents or insects in them which are a permanent source of the bad odors. Here’s a video that shows how to access the drip pan on a KitchenAid fridge:

The air that gets into a fridge stays there forever. Fridges do not suck out the air, and replace it with fresh air. So, if the air has a bad odor it will stay there almost forever, unless you leave the doors open to air it out.

You can also place an open container such as a small dish, or cup filled with baking soda or coffee grounds. These absorb bad odors and neutralize them. This will draw any bad odors out of the air in your fridge and completely remove them.

Why Your KitchenAid 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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