If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 35 years on this planet, it’s that if there’s a strange smell emanating from your kitchen that you can’t quite put your finger on, don’t bother investigating the trash can, garbage disposal or recycling bin… it’s definitely coming from the refrigerator.
What makes matters worse is that a stinky fridge doesn’t just make your house smell ripe—it also makes your food taste funny. Ugh. While the easiest way to get around this is to clean out your fridge regularly, let’s be honest, most of us have better things to do.
Instead, tackle smells from the inside out with the help of these refrigerator deodorizer tabs. Just four ingredients will absorb food odors and replace ‘em with something fresh, thus making your fridge smell clean, even when it isn’t.
DIY Refrigerator Deodorizing Tabs
When I shut the fridge door, I want my refrigerator and everything in it to practically disappear—out of sight, out of mind, I say. But when it comes to lingering smells, it’s hard to think of anything but the refrigerator.
That’s where these refrigerator deodorizers come in. They take care of smells in between cleanings so you can go about your day without worrying about that lettuce that’s been in the bottom drawer a few weeks too long.
But fair warning: these aren’t miracle workers. They’ll make your fridge smell fresh, but they won’t completely get rid of overpowering odors. For that, you still need to take care of the basics:
Tidy up. I rarely, if ever, give my fridge a thorough scrub down (gross, I know, but I’m human!) Instead, I throw out old food every week to make room for fresh groceries. That, in and of itself, helps take care of 75% of smells.
Wipe down spills. Make a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water, then use it to sanitize spills and get rid of dried-on liquids. Meat juices are notorious for making your fridge smell bad, so it’s best to tackle those when they’re fresh. Once you have the obvious grime taken care of, you don’t need scrub any more. Save that for your yearly spring cleaning checklist.
Then deodorize. Now you can tackle lingering odors. These refrigerator deodorizing tabs tackle smells two ways: they absorb bad smells with the help of baking soda and sea salt and leave a fresh scent behind thanks to essential oils. If you’ve done steps 1 and 2, every time you open the fridge door you should be greeted with a fresh scent in between bi-weekly tidy sessions.
One of my favorite things about homemade deodorizing tabs is that you can customize the scents however you like. Lavender, orange, grapefruit and thyme essential oils smell especially clean.
But you can use any oils you already have and that you think smell fresh. Combine them to make your own scent blends or look up recipes online that match your mood for the week.
Here’s how to make ’em:
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups of baking soda
- 1/3 cup sea salt
- 20-30 drops essential oil (I used grapefruit and thyme, but see below for some more fresh-smelling blends)
- Silicone mold, muffin tin or ice cube tray
1. Place baking soda, sea salt and essential oils in a small bowl and stir well.
2. Slowly add the water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together like damp sand when pressed between your fingers. Stir again.
3. Spoon the mixture into your mold and press down so it sticks together. Set aside to dry overnight.
4. In the morning, pop the tablets from the mold and let them continue drying for another 24 hours or so. Store tabs in a lidded jar when not in use.
To use, place 1-2 tabs on a plate or in a small bowl and stash in the back of the refrigerator. Replace tabs every 1-2 months.
Our Favorite Deodorizing Oil Blends
- 3 drops douglas fir, 10 drops lemon, 5 drops eucalyptus
- 15 drops grapefruit, 10 drops lemon, 5 drops lavender
- 10 drops basil, 10 drops lemongrass, 2 drops orange
Refrigerator Deodorizer Tabs with Essential Oils
- Place baking soda, sea salt and essential oils in a small bowl and stir well.
- Slowly add the water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together like damp sand when pressed between your fingers. Stir again.
- Spoon the mixture into your mold and press down so it sticks together. Set aside to dry overnight.
- In the morning, pop the tablets from the mold and let them continue drying for another 24 hours or so. Store tabs in a lidded jar when not in use.
- To use, place 1-2 tabs on a plate or in a small bowl and stash in the back of the refrigerator. Replace tabs every 1-2 months.