There are plenty of different reasons your refrigerator could be smelling bad.
To fix the problem, you’ll need to find and clean up the source of the odor. Read on to find out the most common reasons for a bad smell in your refrigerator and what you can do to get rid of it.
The following LG refrigerator models are covered by this guide:
Clean Your Refrigerator
You need to regularly clean your refrigerator to remove and prevent bad smells. Expired or rotting food is usually the initial cause of a bad smell. But, even after removing it, the smell can persist in the walls or lining of the refrigerator.
Follow these steps to thoroughly clean your refrigerator:
- Turn your refrigerator off at the wall or circuit board.
- Remove the food from your refrigerator. Make sure any open packets are properly sealed in an airtight container. Throw out expired food. Keep your food cold – if you do not have a second refrigerator, place ice packs around your food.
- Take out shelves, crispers, bins, and any other removable components.
- Make a cleaning solution by mixing 1 quart of warm water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Ensure the baking soda is completely dissolved.
- Use your cleaning solution and a soft cloth or sponge to clean out the inside of your refrigerator. Clean everything except for the door liners and gaskets.
- Use a new cloth or sponge to clean the door liners and gaskets with warm water and detergent.
- Wash all removable components by hand with warm water and detergent.
- Dry your refrigerator and all its removable components thoroughly with a dry cloth or absorbent paper towels. Replace removable components inside the refrigerator.
- Let your refrigerator stand for one to two hours with the doors open before replacing your food and switching it back on.
Clean Out the Drip Pan
Water that condenses inside your refrigerator drains into a plastic tray underneath it. Tiny amounts of food or dirt that end up in this drip pan can build up over time and eventually lead to a bad smell occurring when mold or bacteria begin to grow inside it.
Here’s how to clean out the drip pan:
- Switch off and unplug your refrigerator; then take it out from the wall so you can access the back.
- Look for dirt and foul water inside the drip pan. This is the large plastic pan underneath the condenser and other components. Note that this is not removable, so do not try to pull it out.
- Clean inside the drip pan by using a long skewer or something similar to push a rag or absorbent towel around to collect the water until all the water is collected and dirt has been removed.
- Make a cleaning solution using 1 quart of warm water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Use a new rag and your skewer to wash the inside of the drip pan with this solution.
- Use your skewer to push a dry cloth or absorbent towel around the drip pan until it is dry.
- Put your refrigerator back in place and plug it back in.
Clean Behind the Freezer
LG refrigerators with built-in freezers have a removable panel in the back of the freezer. When the freezer defrosts, water can run into the back. If small food particles wash into this panel, they can build up over time and cause a nasty odor.
Here’s how to take off this panel and clean inside:
- Switch off your refrigerator and remove all food, drawers, and shelves from your freezer.
- Remove the ice maker if your model has one.
- Wait several hours for the freezer to defrost, and remove the water with a sponge or dry cloth.
- Remove any screws holding the back panel in place with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Keep these in a cup or jar.
- Locate the rectangular panel in the top left of the back panel. Use a flathead screwdriver to pry off the small, circular button at the top left of the panel. Remove the screw underneath.
- Remove the rectangular panel. You can now remove the back panel. You can use plastic putty knives at the top of the panel and around the sides to help pry it off. Place the whole panel to the side.
- Use a sponge or an absorbent cloth with a solution of 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda to clean the bottom of the area behind the panel where dirt has built up.
- Use a cotton swab to clean inside the drain hole in the bottom of the area behind the panel.
- Thoroughly dry the area.
- Replace the panel, the shelves, the drawers, and your food before switching the refrigerator back on.
Optimize Refrigerator Performance
Long-term odor prevention can be achieved by keeping your refrigerator at the correct temperature and using deodorizers.
Follow these tips to keep bad smells at bay:
- Keep your refrigerator’s thermostat at or below 40°F. Your freezer should be set at 0°F. Regularly check the actual temperature inside the compartments using a thermometer. If the actual temperature is above what the thermostat is set to, adjust the thermostat down accordingly.
- Press the “supercool” button on the control panel when adding a large amount of food to your refrigerator. This will prevent the food from raising the temperature inside the refrigerator and increasing the risk of food spoilage.
- Add natural deodorizers to absorb odorants and add freshness. Add a deodorizer such as baking soda, coffee, or activated charcoal, and leave it inside your refrigerator for one or two days; then discard. Then, add cut lemons or oranges to add a fresh scent.
Hopefully, the nasty smell inside your refrigerator has been eliminated after following these methods. Sometimes, the odor will be caused by something less common. You will need to consult a professional refrigerator repair technician to find the source of the smell if this is the case.