5 Reasons Your Whirlpool Refrigerator Smells

Register Appliance
October 2, 2023
Refrigerator Repair

Have you noticed an unpleasant smell in your kitchen, emanating from your Whirlpool refrigerator? It can be very off-putting, and even embarrassing if you have guests over! Thankfully, there are several easy fixes for this problem. Let’s dive into them!

This guide refers to all the main models of Whirlpool refrigerators, including:


2-A Y




















1. There’s spoiled food somewhere inside

This is the most obvious one, and also the most common cause of a smelly refrigerator! It’s easy to forget about some food tucked in at the back; with time it can go bad and cause unpleasant smells. If you notice a bad smell in your Whirlpool fridge, the first step should be a deep clean. 

  • Remove everything from the fridge and check the expiry dates on all of your food. Anything out of date or smelly should be disposed of. Don’t forget the freezer as well!
  • Use some paper towels or an old cloth to soak up any spills or liquid that has gathered in the bottom of the refrigerator or on the shelves. 
  • Remove the shelves and any other removable parts and wash them thoroughly with warm water and detergent. Leave to dry while you’re cleaning the rest of the fridge. 
  • Using a clean cloth and some cleaning spray, wipe out the entire interior of the fridge, focusing on any nooks and crannies that may have spoiled food in them. 
  • Replace the shelving and the unspoiled food. In most cases, this should solve the issue. 

2. The plastic of the refrigerator has absorbed bad smells

If you’ve cleaned out all the spoiled food but the bad smell remains, it’s possible the plastic of your refrigerator has absorbed the odors and is causing a lingering smell. A scented cleaner may just mask the odor, instead of removing it. In this case, you’re better off trying one of the following deodorizing solutions.


Vinegar has natural deodorizing and antibacterial properties! Remove all the food from your refrigerator and wipe it down with a solution of one part water to one part white vinegar. Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes to penetrate the plastic, then wipe it away with a clean cloth. 

Baking soda

Baking soda is a great deodorizer because it absorbs odors, and best of all, you don’t need to take everything out of your fridge again! Just put an opened box of baking soda in the bottom of your fridge, or shake a few tablespoons into a bowl and place that in your fridge. The baking soda will absorb the odors, and if you replace it every three months or so, your fridge will stay odor-free. 


Bleach has antibacterial properties, so it’s perfect for getting rid of absorbed odors. It can be damaging to the plastic components if used too frequently, though, so make sure you only use it as a last resort. 

To use, empty out your fridge again and then make a mixture of one part bleach to five parts water. Spray the mixture all over the interior of the fridge, then leave to sit for 15 minutes. Dry thoroughly, then replace your food items. This should solve your issue once and for all!

3. Mold or bacteria is growing in the drip pan

Not every Whirlpool refrigerator has a drip pan, but if yours does, it could have a buildup of mildew or bacteria that is causing it to smell. The drip pan is often neglected during a deep clean, but if your deep clean didn’t fix the smell, it’s the next most likely culprit. 

Check your Whirlpool manual to see if your fridge has a drip pan. If it does, they can be accessed behind the rear access panel. Turn off your fridge before you remove the panel for your safety. You’ll also need to disconnect the water line. 

Once you’ve located it, remove the drip pan and give it a thorough wash in the sink with warm, soapy water, then dry it and put it back in place. 

4. The condenser coils are dirty

Dirty evaporator coils can also be the cause of unpleasant odors. The coils circulate cold air to both the fridge and freezer compartments, keeping the appliance at the correct temperature. If they are dirty, it can cause your appliance to stink and not cool properly. 

To fix this, you first need to access the coils—they are usually located underneath the refrigerator, behind a small grille. To clean them, you can vacuum them or use a specially designed brush to remove the dust and grime. 

5. The fridge filters need replacing

Modern refrigerators often come with filters, and these need to be replaced regularly to keep your fridge smelling clean and fresh. There are two filters—the air filter and the water filter. Both should be replaced ideally every six months to a year. Look at your Whirlpool manual for instructions on how to replace the filter on your particular model. 

Preventing bad smells from returning

Now that your fridge is clean, you’ll want to prevent having the same problem in the future! Here are some tips on preventing bad smells from coming back:

  • Regularly check for spoiled or expired food and throw it away.
  • Make sure all food is covered or in sealed containers.
  • Wipe up any spills immediately.
  • Use a deodorizer. This can be a dish of baking powder, activated charcoal, or a commercial fridge deodorizer.
Spread the love

Leave a Reply