Skip to Content

Make Your Kitchen Smell Sweet: How to Get Rid of Bad Smells in Your Refrigerator, Sink, and Kitchen Trash Can

Sharing is caring!

There’s nothing less appealing (and sometimes embarrassing) than kitchen stink! But have no fear, from the refrigerator to the sink to the trash, these natural and cheap options (many if not all you likely already have in your house) will help to get rid of bad smells in the kitchen quickly and easily.

clean kitchen and ways to remove bad smells

I know, it’s not the most appetizing topic. But do you know what is really unappetizing? When you can’t get rid of bad smells in your kitchen! I mean, let’s be honest, it’s not too appealing to create delicious food when your refrigerator smells like old fish or your sink smells like rotten vegetables.

Recently we had a fishy smell in our fridge. It was so bad that my sons were hiding their noses in their shirts whenever they opened the fridge door! I cleaned the shelves, emptied any vegetable scraps that were past their prime, and gave the refrigerator a once over to see if there was anything rotting, but I couldn’t find a thing. 

So I did a little research and discovered that putting coffee grounds in an open container in the fridge can eliminate bad odors. Sure enough, a day or two later, the refrigerator was back to its sweet-smelling self.

I decided I would turn to my clever friends, including some Scramble members, to see what other home remedies they use to get rid of bad odors in their kitchens. Wonderfully, all of the ideas for how to get rid of bad smells in the kitchen that were shared were not only natural and eco-friendly, but also all used commonly found items (i.e., no need for expensive cleaning product purchases that would be used just once).

Here are some great ways to get rid of bad smells in the most likely sources of the stench: your refrigerator, sink, and trash can.

coffee grounds can help to remove bad smells from your refrigerator

How to Deodorize the Refrigerator

The fridge is often where a lot of bad kitchen smells live. From rotten produce to spoiled milk and meat spills there are, unfortunately, many potential sources of stink. Here are some steps you can take to eliminate bad smells in the refrigerator.

Step 1: Purge

First, go through the fridge and get rid of old food that is no longer edible and may be emitting unpleasant smells. In particular, look for produce, meat, and dairy products as they tend to be items that are quick to spoil.

Step 2: Clean the fridge

Now it’s time to make sure the refrigerator doesn’t have any lingering spots that are stinky. So, clear off the shelves and wipe them down with hot soapy water (I like to start with the top shelf and work my way down). For extra smell-busting power, wipe them down again with a wet rag with a few drops of an essential oil like tea tree, lemon, peppermint, or Thieves.

Step 3: Add a Natural Deodorizer

My two favorite natural deodorizers for the refrigerator are coffee grounds and baking soda.

For coffee grounds, put a small open container with about ¼ cup of coffee grounds on a refrigerator shelf and let it absorb any bad smell.

For baking soda, keep an open box of baking soda on a refrigerator shelf and switch it out every month or two.

Bonus tip: Some of the folks I talked to recommended using activated charcoal packs or even a piece of coal to absorb odors instead. I’ve never tried this, but I thought it was an interesting idea worth sharing.


Deodorizing the Sink

While the garbage disposal is a wonderful invention, it also means that little scraps of food can get stuck in the disposal or little crevices and start to stink. Here are some ways to get rid of bad smells in the kitchen sink.

Flush the drain

Whenever my kitchen sink is getting smelly, the first thing I do is flush the drain out with cold water. To do this, just run the cold water while you run the garbage disposal for 30-40 seconds. This can help to loosen and flush any stuck debris.

Scrub the sink clean

Use a scrub brush in the sink and scrub the whole sink down, but give extra attention to the area around the garbage disposal gasket to remove any smelly buildup.


Put a slice of fresh or frozen lemon, lime, or grapefruit down the garbage disposal to freshen it. If you’ve got a finicky garbage disposal, or you are just nervous about clogs, slice the citrus thinly to reduce any risk of a block-up.

Coffee grounds

Coffee grounds come to the rescue again! After you’re done with the dishes, but before you run the disposal one last time, sprinkle some coffee grounds down the drain and then run the disposal.

Baking soda

This is a tip I love because it gives a second life to the baking soda used to deodorize the refrigerator. Before you dump it in the trash, run a few scoops through the garbage disposal.

baking soda can help to deodorize your kitchen

Deodorizing the Kitchen Trash

Whether it’s from leaks in the trash bag or foods that have spoiled, the trash can often become really smelly. Here are some ways to combat bad smells in the kitchen trash.

Essential oil

Put a few drops of your favorite essential oils on a paper towel and then put it at the bottom of the trash can (see suggestions for specific oils in the refrigerator section above).

Baking soda

Yet again, baking soda makes the list! Sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of the trash can after you take out the trash.

Separate meat and fish scraps

If trash day is still a few days off and you have meat or fish scraps, either take them to the outside trash can immediately or seal them in a container and keep them in the refrigerator until it’s time to take out the trash.

What remedies for bad odors in the kitchen have you used successfully? Please share them in the comments below! And if you want more ideas for how to keep your kitchen clean, make sure to check out our post on how to spring clean your kitchen!


Saturday 15th of April 2017

The fridge it is not in the kitchen. The sink drainer it is clean. I painted the walls. But still have strange smell. No licking anywhere. Could it be from under the dish washer or under the tiles or something?


Tuesday 4th of October 2016

It is getting simple and easy by using the "Canfresh Garbage Recycling System' to keep the garbage bin clean and fresh now. Just simply search for "Allcanfresh", the "garbage bin smelly problem" will be solved.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop