We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of opening the refrigerator only to be slapped by a putrid stench emanating from within its depths. It can be hard enough trying to determine what the source of the smell is — did something spill and cause a mess? Is the lettuce in the produce drawer rotting? Is there a forgotten container of coffee creamer hiding in the back corner?
It could be all of the above, thanks to bacteria and molds that form in moist environments. Between mysterious liquid spills and condensation, refrigerators are a breeding ground for moisture — and therefore, myriad unpleasant smells.
Forgotten components of your fridge can also be a source of nastiness. In 2019, U.K.’s Metro reported that in a cleaning Facebook group, a woman shared photos of her mold-covered drip tray that was stinking up her refrigerator. The tray is meant to collect condensation from the defrost drain, so if not regularly cleaned out, can collect things like mold, mildew, and ultimately, horrible smells.
Whatever the culprit of your fridge’s stink, simply scrubbing down surfaces is likely not enough. But there’s an unexpected way to get rid of that lingering yuckiness — for good.
How to use coffee grounds to get rid of fridge stink
Baking soda has long been the go-to solution for a stinky fridge, but it might not be the most practical option after all. “Baking soda can help but there must be a large available surface area,” Joe Schwarcz, PhD states in an article for McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. “Opening just one little corner of the box does no good. Spreading the baking soda in a plate is the best way to go.” If things are really serious, McGill suggests washing with diluted bleach followed by hydrogen peroxide to get rid of the chlorine smell. “Then follow with a bicarbonate solution rinse to change the residual smelly volatile fatty acids to sodium salts,” Schwarcz continues. “Activated carbon deodorizers are also available for fridges. You just plop these in and they adsorb all kinds of volatile compounds.”
For a quick fix for everyday odors, placing a small bowl of coffee grounds in the fridge is a simple, easy hack. Not only does this take up less space than a large plate of baking soda, but it’s also a great way to repurpose your old coffee grounds, instead of just throwing them in the trash. Coffee grounds are effective because they contain nitrogen, which helps neutralize odors quickly and safely. As an added bonus, grounds will also give your refrigerator a nice, subtle scent of coffee — certainly a welcome change from the stench of forgotten produce or spilled milk.
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