How to Remove Garlic Odor From a Refrigerator

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If a garlicky aroma wafts across the kitchen each time the refrigerator door is opened, then it’s time to get to work to rid the major appliance of the unwanted garlic smell.
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Garlic is one of the most prevalent cooking herbs, craved by most and reviled by some. In the right setting, such as at the dinner table or while stirring a bubbling sauce, the rising fragrance of garlic is a welcome event. However, if it has taken root and arises in areas where it is not wanted, then the otherwise pleasing scent can be an unwelcome odor that needs to be dealt with immediately.


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If a garlicky aroma wafts across the kitchen each time the refrigerator door is opened, then it's time to get to work to rid the major appliance of the unwanted garlic smell.

First Line of Defense

The scent of garlic can be hard to get rid of once it has made a home in your major appliance. The oils in the tasty herb attach to the porous plastics in the refrigerator and can linger long past their prime. That clingy scent needs to be addressed sooner than later to ensure it doesn't get the chance to settle into the fridge's shelves and sides.


After removing all perishable items and checking jars of pickles or other garlic-based food for loose lids, wash out the refrigerator with soap and water. Rinse off the shelves and walls of the appliance so that the residue from the soap doesn't further the odor issues in your fridge.

To make sure that the garlic smell doesn't have a chance to invade the plastic parts of the fridge, remove and clean out all cooked items that include that tasty garlic base. Douse plastic vegetable and fruit bins in a spray of vinegar and hot water.

Nixing the Noxious Garlic Smell

There are a few ways to eradicate the unwanted odor of garlic that has seemingly permanently attached itself to the inside of your fridge or freezer. Using natural, food-safe cleaners in the refrigerator can take out the garlic smell and not require further cleaning to remove the residue that can be left behind from harsh commercial cleaners.


To deodorize a fridge with vinegar, you can use straight vinegar or a mix of vinegar, water and other household cleaning products. Spray down the inside of the refrigerator with plain vinegar. Follow up with a mix of 1 part vinegar and 1 part hot water.

For serious stains, sprinkle baking soda over the sticky or hardened food area and spray it down with straight vinegar in a spray bottle. Let it sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing the bits of food or puddles of hardened juices from meat, spilled beverages or spoiled vegetables away.

Smell in Fridge Won’t Go Away

A smelly fridge or freezer is off putting. It can affect eating or preparing food from the appliance in a negative way. It's so frustrating to spend time cleaning all the surfaces, plastic inserts and drawers inside the refrigerator and still be confronted by a garlic smell each time you open the door.


When the garlic smell in the refrigerator begins to overwhelm and find its way into other packaged products in your fridge, it's time to find and address what is creating that odor. Remove all drawers, plastic inserts and shelving. Spray the inside of the refrigerator with bleach or another commercial cleaner.

Deodorize the inside of the refrigerator with a citrus-based or other food-safe cleaner. After cleaning out the appliance, always rinse out with a damp sponge or cloth to remove residue that can attract odors or bacteria.