Bad Smell in Kitchen

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  • Unidentified Odor in Kitchen

    (6 replies)

    We have a strong odor coming from our kitchen. We hired someone to clean out the fridge and it seemed to lessen the smell for a bit but now, two weeks later, its back and you can smell it when you come into the house. Any clues on how to identify it? Is there a service that can detect the source?

    Thank you!

    We had something like this at a former house, and it turned out that the garbage disposal basically wasn't hooked up right and a bunch of rotten food was gathering in the crawl space under the house.  Classy.  You may want to crawl down there and take a gander before hiring the ghostbusters.

    Had the same recently and it turned out being a dead skunk in the crawl space under the kitchen.

    We had a strong odor from our kitchen once. There was a dead rat under the dishwasher. Nasty but the smell was gone as soon as we disposed of the dead body.

    Do you have a gas stove? Or some other gas appliance? Have it checked to make sure it is not leaking. PGE will do this for free. A gas leak is serious. Don't wait. 

    Other than that, just check the usual things. Something under the stove or fridge? Pipe are leaking causing mold? Someone left an open jar on the shelf? An animal died under the house or in the walls? 

    My bet is you may have some or all of the following: 1. dead critters in the attic or under your house.

    2. Serious mold problem in both the places in the attic, under the house, possibly in the walls, or other places that may be in the walls. You should also check under the refrigerator for mold. Your bathrooms are a likely place for mold to hide. Mold is nasty stuff that can cause asthma, allergies and headaches.

    I suggest calling an exterminator to look for dead animals and a home inspector.

    I know something about this subject. I was the director for the Alameda Co. Lead and Healthy Home Program. Give a call if you have questions. 510-381-2149.


    We had a bad smell, it was from grease buildup in the garbage disposal. The plumber said it’s good to clean out the disposal every 10 years or so.


Archived Q&A and Reviews

Took everything out of fridge, washed it, it still smells

Jan 2005

REcently I noticed a sourish/stale smell in my fridge.''Time for a cleaning'' I said. So last weekend I took EVERYTHING out, threw away lots of stuff, took all the shelves and drawers out and washed everything with soap and water....washed the walls inside, the rim of the door. NOthing left untouched. Put it all back, even bought new baking soda deodorizer. It still smells, but not as much. As soon as I open the fridge, I get a mild whiff. Any ideas? anyone have this problemb before? I really don't want to take it all apart and do it again, maybe with bleach or wash with baking soda, but maybe that'll be the only answer. Your input will be appreciated. smelly fridge mom

You didn't mention the age of your fridge, but if it is older try this. In older fridges, there is a drip pan that collects condensation. Typically it evaporates, but sometimes the water collects and as it sits under the fridge, it begins to get stale and smell. To reach the drip pan, you need to pop the grill off the bottom of the fridge and you should see and be able to slide the pan out to wash it. I had to do this a couple of times growing up. Again, it needs to be an older fridge with a grill below the bottom door. bmk

You say you cleaned the refrigerator thoroughly. I'm just checking to make sure you also cleaned out the freezer. Funky smells definitely migrate from freezer to fridge. You might also try a couple of cut lemons. I wouldn't use bleach in your refrigerator---if you have to wash it a second time use vinegar. Vinegar has good disinfectant properties. Sally

you also might want to get a thermometer for the fridge and freezer, to make sure both are working properly. When mine gave off a strong odor, I checked the drip pan, washed the entire applicance (including sealer strips) with vinegared water, and dusted the coils, and swept and washed the floor beneath. I also put a half lemon, a dish of baking soda and an open container of charcoal in both. None of it worked. Turned out that the entire appliancewas cycling on and off, freezing, then thawing, then freezing again, causing the unit to smell. In my case, it was the fridge's last whimper. I wish I had used the thermometer sooner. it would have saved me from eating meat that had turned. nancy