Is there a certain cleaner or chemical that will remove a lingering garlic odor from an ice maker or other food processing equipment?

About a month ago, my wife and I noticed that the ice from our fridge had a slight garlic smell and taste. On inspection, I noticed a jar of minced garlic that wasn't completely closed in the door right under the ice maker (The ice maker is in the fridge, and has a rubber seal to the door where the ice comes out like this.)

I removed the garlic, dumped the ice, and soaked the removable ice tray/conveyer mechanism in hot soapy water. The first few batches of ice were better, but now the smell and taste are back.

Right now we simply can't use the ice maker. Is there a trick to garlic smell?

Also, the garlic issue with the ice maker was from garlic fumes only. The jar did not spill, and there was never any direct contact between the garlic and the fridge.

  • I found this question that is about cleaning smell from a plastic lid with vinegar and baking soda. It seems at least somewhat related, but the answer was never accepted, so not sure if it worked or not. I'll give it a shot if I don't get a better recommendation.
    – JPhi1618
    Sep 14, 2015 at 17:31
  • wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Bad-Smells-in-Your-Fridge . Try that link. A pretty thorough step by step how to clean the fridge and remove smells.
    – Pork Chop
    Sep 15, 2015 at 6:42
  • Duplicate of [How do you remove strong garlic odor from enclosed space (garage)?][1] [1]: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/56206/… Sep 16, 2015 at 10:49
  • @banavalikar Thanks, but cleaning a smell out of a fridge and cleaning the garage are going to be quite a bit different.
    – JPhi1618
    Sep 16, 2015 at 13:00
  • Leave some stale bread or biscuits, lime/lemon rind in the affected area. Sep 16, 2015 at 13:04

4 Answers 4


Buy an activated charcoal filter. They make some specifically for the fridge (search on Amazon):

Fridge-It Naturally Activated Charcoal Odor Absorber - $6

And ones that you can use anywhere (and they last up to two years):

Mini Moso Natural Air Purifying Bags - $10

To me, at least, it seems like the old baking soda in the fridge thing doesn't work; but activated charcoal clears up everything, even stale cigarette smoke.


Basically you need to turn it off, remove everything from it and then thoroughly clean it using a solution of warm water and baking soda.

Baking soda will help remove/absorb any odors that have leeched into the fabric of the fridge.

Once that is done and it has completely dried, you can restock the fridge, examining carefully anything you are putting back in for cracks, leaks or spillage that might have caused the bad smell.

Note that it is more likely that any smell is coming from something spoiled or spilled in the fridge rather than the fridge itself as refrigerators are made out of materials that are designed to NOT absorb bad smells.


Have you tried baking soda? It will absorb odors in your refrigerator. Often, people leave a box in the fridge all the time (though it needs to be changed every few months to stay effective). Some manufacturers (such as Arm & Hammer) even package it in boxes that have a whole side that opens, exposing a coffee filter like material to help expose more surface for absorption.

  • I'll certainly try, but I was hoping to find something like a "lemon juice for fingers" trick to actually clean the garlic smell that has somehow imbued the ice maker with smell.
    – JPhi1618
    Sep 14, 2015 at 17:26
  • This is a trick @JPhi1618. It's low cost, easy, and it can clean the odors out where you can't reach with a brush
    – GdD
    Sep 14, 2015 at 18:29
  • @GdD I was thinking of the baking soda as absorbing odors rather than cleaning the source of them. My worry is that the ice will also absorb the odor if it's not cleaned once and for all.
    – JPhi1618
    Sep 14, 2015 at 18:58
  • -1 for the old "baking soda helps remove odors" myth. I don't know why it is so popular in the USA, although I've heard that it might be the product of a successful marketing campaign in the mid-20th century. Anyway, there is no good chemical reason why baking soda will be useful for most odors, and when it is, keeping it as crystals around is particularly badly suited for the job.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 14, 2015 at 19:58
  • +1 for the baking soda. Works for me, and in use as deodorizer in toothpaste. I've not found crystals in my fridge box.
    – michael
    Oct 5, 2015 at 3:40

Old fashion method-put a piece of coal on the fridge shelf. The coal absorb the garlic's smell.

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