GIMME SHELTER- Ice box blues? Eliminate stinky fridge smells

Kate Collier


Q: I'd like to make the most of my refrigerator and keep the food in my fridge fresh longer. What do you recommend?

A: The keys to keeping your refrigerator fresh are organization and labeling. Organize the shelves and compartments with similar foods. Dedicate the taller shelves to drinks and milk, side shelves for condiments organized by like use, one drawer for fruits and citrus, one for vegetables and salad fixings, one for cheeses and cured meats, one shelf with a shallow-sided baking sheet (to catch drippings) for fresh meats, one shelf for leftovers.  

Label leftovers clearly, with a permanent marker on masking tape with description and dates. Plan weekly "leftovers for lunch/dinner" and enjoy an easy meal that cuts down on waste.

It is hard to regulate humidity in home refrigerators, and different foods like different humidity levels. Most vegetables like high humidity of 90-95 percent, so storing in plastic bags in the vegetable drawer is best. To regulate condensation build-up that can spoil some vegetables, leave the top of the bag open, wrap the veggie in paper towels, or use perforated bags.

         If your fridge is too humid (water droplets forming on the ceiling): make sure it's not over-filled, there's room between the shelves for air flow and circulation, and the door closes tightly.  

  To ward off foul smells, eliminate open or leaking packages. Make sure lids are on tight and drips are wiped clean before storing in the fridge. Slip fresh meat and seafood packages and extra smelly cheeses into easy zipper bags. These bags are easy to label and invaluable for marinating and storage, so keep a supply of the pint, quart and gallon sizes on hand. 

In researching I discovered there are various beliefs regarding the best refrigerator odor absorbers. Many cooks swear that an open box of baking soda does the trick, some say a bowl of coffee grounds is the answer, still others say charcoal, a cut lime, or a wet cloth dabbed with wintergreen, rose or citrus oil. We use baking soda because that's what our parents did, but the other options sound interesting, too.

Finally, add "deep clean fridge" to your Spring Cleaning list every year.  A deep clean means unplugging the unit and letting it defrost as you pull everything out including the drawers and drip pans and wipe it down thoroughly with a rag soaked in fragrant soapy warm water. 

The best day to clean out your fridge is trash day so you can get rid of all the ancient condiments, petrified freezer items, and leaky deli cups before they stink up your trashcan and attract insects or raccoons.


1 comment

Love the suggestions, thank you. I would like to add another suggestion about actually eliminating odors from fridge and also ice bin. I found a product that utilizes activated carbon called Fridge-IT odor absorbers that work so much better than my experience with baking soda. I first read about it on the internet and tried it. Now, one of my favorite products that I can say really works. If you have a stinky fridge, this is the product for you. You can get it at