Odor Inside a Refrigerator


  • High refrigerator/freezer temperatures
  • Door seal cracked or torn
  • Service error indicators on the control panel
  • Standing water or other foreign matter in the drain pan
  • Clogged drain tubes or standing water on the refrigerator floor
  • Extended power loss


  • How to remove odors or odd smells on the interior of a refrigerator
  • Bad odor in the refrigerator
  • Removing odors from inside a refrigerator

Steps to Verify Issue:

  1. Sanitize the unit before storing food inside it.
    • A new unit can have a “new unit smell” for many months after installation, so always clean the unit before using it the first time.
    • Cleaning clears the unit of stale air trapped during shipment.
  2. Clean recent spills.
    • Recent spill in the unit can cause odors. Determine where the spill occurred and where it went.
    • The spill may reach the drain trough or drain pan area.
  3. If the drain tube needs to be cleaned, see also:
  4. Clean the shelving. For more instructions, refer to:
  5. Uncovered food may create odors in the unit and will require that the unit be cleaned. Refer to the Sub-Zero Cleaning Reference for cleaning product recommendations and instructions.
  6. Persistent odors may require disassembly and cleaning of the evaporator by a Factory Certified Service Company.
  7. In extreme cases, the unit may need to be removed from the opening to find the odor and installed.

Extreme Odors

  1. Remove all shelving and clean again. If odors persist after cleaning, shelves may need to be replaced.
  2. Thoroughly clean the unit's interior to include drain pan, tubes, gaskets, and all crevices using warm water, dish detergent, and a capful of bleach.
  3. Block the doors open and keep a fan blowing into the unit interior for a few days if possible.
  4. Place crumpled-up newspapers, charcoal briquettes in a container, activated charcoal in a container, or fresh coffee beans (ground coffee can be used but may not be as effective) in the affected compartment. Replace daily to help absorb odors.
  5. Factory Certified Service may be able to help with more thorough cleaning of the ice maker, drain tube, evaporator, or fan areas.
  6. If all avenues have been attempted and proven unsuccessful after several weeks, the unit may not be salvageable. Consider contacting the applicable renter's or home owner's insurance company for resolution.


If these steps do not resolve the issue, no further troubleshooting advice is available. Contact Factory Certified Service to schedule an appointment for repair. 

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