Fridge Smells Like Chemicals: 7 Easy Ways To Fix It Now

You store your raw or cooked foods in a fridge to keep them constantly fresh and yummy.

So, when you take some of that food, it smells like chemicals.

This indicates that your fridge is not doing its job correctly. 

Even worse, that odor can affect your meal’s flavor. 

If your fridge smells like chemicals, you might feel confused and concerned.

This annoying problem is a result of the manufacturing of the appliance.

In this case, the smell would be a temporary occurrence that should disappear in a couple of days.

However, if the weird odors in refrigerators are persistent, there might be an issue of coolant leakage or improper use of cleaning products. 

Why Does Your Fridge Smell Like Chemicals?

Knowing that a fridge’s chemical odor does not always lead to health hazards is essential.

In some cases, it might be a result of improper cleaning process of the appliance.

In other cases, a more complex issue could lead to a leaking of the coolant.

Such a gas is vital for the function of the appliance.

However, any leakage is considered hazardous and will affect the fridge’s lifespan and your health.

Moreover, there could be a problem with the fan or the condenser.

Other faulty or damaged components may result in this problem too.

So, let’s dive deeper into these causes.

1. Bad Citric Fruits 

This might surprise you, but rotten citric fruits can cause a strange chemical-like smell in the fridge.

Your favorite lemons, oranges, or grapefruit might be the reason for this problem if they go bad inside the fridge.

These fruits can go bad if you cut a slice and leave the rest of the fruit exposed.

Also, leaving these fruits for too long may cause them to soften due to the excess moisture in the fridge

Generally, citric fruit should not be preserved in a cool and sealed environment.

So, they can be kept at room temperature for quite some time.

However, avoid leaving them open if you want to keep them in a fridge. I

t is way better to place them in a sealed, airtight container. 

2. Coolant Leak 

This is a very common cause of a chemical smell inside the refrigerator.

All this happens when the cooling system starts malfunctioning and leaking its gas.

When this leak occurs, you will notice an odor resembling chloroform or acetone. 

The gas that circulates the pipes of the fridge leading to cooling and preserving your foods and drinks, is called Freon. 

In addition to the unusual smells, you might notice a few oily drops underneath the fridge.

Also, freon leakage makes your fridge extra warm.

Among the famous Signs of a freon leak is the loss of cooling ability in a fridge due to losing the refrigerant gas. 

Keep in mind that this type of leak is a severe health risk. 

It is unsafe for humans to inhale this gas, as it may result in serious complications. 

3. You Have A New Fridge 

Another simple cause for the terrible chemical smell in your fridge is that the appliance is new.

The brand-new appliance smell takes some time to vanish, but it should be gone within a couple of weeks maximum. 

The source of this smell is all the materials and chemicals used in constructing this appliance.

If exposed, the smell may affect the taste of some of your food and water bottles. 

The bad smell is typical in all fridges stored in a warehouse for some time.  

4. Using Harsh Cleaning Chemicals

When you become an owner of a fridge, the responsibility of keeping it clean is all on you.

This might make you believe that using harsh cleaners is a part of the correct cleaning process.

However, excessive use of such products leads to interactions with the plastic coating of the interiors of the fridge. 

This way, your fridge ends up with a chemical detergent smell. 

5. Inspect the Condenser Fan 

A fridge’s condenser fan is responsible for cooling its compressor

It also allows the condenser coils to become even cooler.

While doing this function, the fan removes hot air from the fridge’s system.

Any signs of malfunction in this component will subsequently lead to an increase in the appliance’s temperature.

This way, the food inside the fridge is prone to rotting and emitting foul smells. 

6. Check the Condenser Coils

Condenser coils are easy to locate and fix as they are located on the outside of the fridge’s body.

These coils contribute to circulating the cool air inside the fridge.

It also allows hot air to find its way outside of the fridge.

However, these coils can get blocked with debris and dirt accumulation.

This situation leads to overheating and food spoilage.

Eventually, bad smells will be a part of the fridge. 

7. Watch Out For Overheating 

Overheating is a serious issue that threatens the efficiency and lifespan of a fridge.

Overheating may occur due to overloading the appliance or having jammed fans.

Also, placing it close to the wall might lead to this issue. 

Overheating will lead to spoiling the foods and the formation of bad smells.

So, when you touch the location of the fridge motor, you will notice it is too hot.

Overheating may happen due to different reasons. 

So, you should carefully investigate the cause and work on it accordingly. 

How to Fix a Fridge that Smells Like Chemicals?

The main problem with this issue is that the food and water will soon taste like chemicals.

Being in a sealed environment with bad smells will reflect in the quality of your water and food sooner or later.

The good news is that you can fix most of the causes alone. 

However, in some cases, you will have to consult with a professional technician. 

1. Remove the Rotten Fruit

This is a straightforward issue to tackle without outside help.

All it takes is removing the rotten fruits and letting the fridge air out until the smell is gone.

If this does not work out, you could fill a tiny plastic container with baking soda and leave it inside the fridge for several days.

2. Get Professional Help

Unfortunately, you cannot do much in the case of a Freon leak.

To begin with, it will help if you unplug the fridge and call a licensed technician. 

You cannot DIY troubleshoot it, as this system is a bit complex.

Also, refrigerant leaks are toxic.

So, it is better to leave the house until help gets there.

3. Wait For the Smell to Vanish on Its Own

If you have a new fridge, it is common to emit chemicals-like smells.

In this case, there is not much you can do other than wait for the smells to go away.

However, you can speed up the process. 

For instance, you can place a container full of baking powder.

Also, you can keep the fridge unplugged for a few days until the smell is gone.  

4. Use Different Cleaning Products 

Thorough cleaning of a refrigerator does not require using any chemicals.

You can DIY create an eco-friendly cleaning solution that consists of white vinegar, a few lemon drops, and a tablespoon of baking soda. 

This green cleaner is effective and can remove any foul odors. 

5. Fix or Replace the Fan 

This is one of the most manageable parts of DIY troubleshooting a bad-smelling fridge.

You can access the fan after removing the access panel.

Look for objects or buildup jamming the fan.

Remove them if they are found.

If not, the fins might be broken; this calls for replacing the entire fan.

It would help if you referred to the user manual for a suitable fan replacement.  

6. Clean the Coils 

You should clean these coils carefully until all the buildup is gone.

This part is easy to troubleshoot with a brush to remove all the dirt and debris.

It would be best not to work on these coils with a fridge plugged into the wall outlet. 

7. Fix the Cause of Overheating 

This is a tricky issue to handle as there are many culprits.

For instance, the temperature might be too low for the fridge’s capacity.

You might readjust it to avoid the problem in the first place.

Also, remove anything blocking the vents, fan, or condenser coils.

While you are at it, check out the condition of the gasket seal. 

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