Why Your Whirlpool Refrigerator Smells

Paradise Appliance
March 8, 2021
Refrigerator Repair

A bad smell coming from your refrigerator can really ruin your appetite. A nasty odor could be caused by a number of different problems. This guide will help you to find what is causing your smell and tell you what you can do to fix it.

The following models of Whirlpool refrigerator are covered by this guide:


2-A Y




















Clear Out Your Refrigerator

Bad smells can be caused by expired food inside your refrigerator or by strong-smelling food that isn’t properly sealed inside a container. Strong odors can also linger in your refrigerator.

Here’s how to clear out your refrigerator and get rid of lingering smells:

  1. Take out all your food.
  2. Look for any food that has spilled or leaked inside your refrigerator. Use an absorbent towel or damp cloth to wipe these up.
  3. Throw out any expired food, and then place all other food inside an airtight container.
  4. Open a box of baking soda or two if your model has a freezer. Place one box inside each compartment.
  5. Replace your food.

The baking soda absorbs odorants. It can be removed after a day or two. For stronger odors, you can use activated charcoal. This provides stronger odor absorption.

Clean Your Refrigerator

If a nasty odor is sticking around, it’s a good idea to give your refrigerator a thorough clean.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn off your refrigerator at the wall or unplug it from the socket.
  2. Remove all of your food and keep it in a cool place. If you don’t have another refrigerator, use ice packs to keep it cool.
  3. Take out any removable items, including shelves, bins, and drawers. Use a damp cloth or sponge to hand wash these components using a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water. Rinse them in a solution of one part water and one part lemon juice. Dry thoroughly with an absorbent towel or dry cloth.
  4. Wash the inside of your refrigerator using a damp cloth or sponge and a nonabrasive cleaning product. Regular dish soap works well.
  5. Dry the inside of your refrigerator thoroughly with a dry cloth or absorbent towel. Replace the bins, drawers, and shelves.
  6. Replace your food and turn your refrigerator back on.

Check the Air Filter

Whirlpool refrigerators use air filters to remove particulates in the air that can cause odors. These filters need to be changed every six months or so to maintain freshness.

First, check the status of your air filter:

  • Newer models have a light on the rear wall of the refrigerator.
  • Older models have a removable plastic indicator. This will be located behind the vented door in the rear wall inside the refrigerator to the bottom left of the filter itself.
  • For both the light and the indicator, blue means the filter is fine, orange means it is nearing expiration, and red means it has expired and needs replacing. For models with a status light, the words “replace filter” may also appear.

Replacement filters are available from major retailers and have the product number W10311524.

Replace the Air Filter

If your air filter has expired, it won’t do a good job at removing odors.

Here’s how to replace it:

  1. Open the vented door and remove the old air filter. Squeeze the tabs on the side of it and pull it toward you.
  2. For models with a removable plastic filter status indicator, slide this out of its slot and discard.
  3. Open the new filter packet and remove.
  4. If your model uses a plastic filter status indicator, remove this also and apply pressure to the bubble on the back of it until it pops. If your model has a status light instead, press and hold the “air filter” button for three seconds until the light turns blue.
  5. Fit the new filter by pressing it into place. Close the vented door. Slide the air filter status indicator into place if required.

Clean the Drip Tray / Drain Tube

Water that condenses inside your refrigerator drains into a tray at the back of the refrigerator, where it evaporates from the heat of the condenser motor. Sometimes, bacteria or mold can build up inside this drip tray and cause a persistent odor.

Here’s how to access and clean this tray:

  1. Turn off your refrigerator and unplug it at the wall, and then take it out from the wall so that you can comfortably access the back.
  2. Use a ¼-inch nut driver to remove the screws on the metal panel at the bottom of the back of your refrigerator, and then remove the panel.
  3. Remove the two spark plugs from the water inlet valve on the back of the panel. These are usually orange and made of rubber. Double-check that the power is switched off before doing this. This is made easy by using a flathead screwdriver to pry off the rubber sleeves.
  4. Place the panel out of the way.
  5. Remove the drain tube. This is a black, plastic tube on the right of the drip tray. There is a locking tab on the left side of this tube that you can press using a flathead screwdriver. It should pop off easily when you press this tab.
  6. Remove the compressor. It is locked to the drip tray by a small tab in the middle of the drip tray. This can be removed by sliding a flathead screwdriver underneath and lifting it up. Then, you can reach around the back of the compressor and carefully pull it out.
  7. Remove the drip tray. If it is hard to pull out, slide the flathead screwdriver underneath it and lift up.
  8. Clean the drip tray and drain tube using warm water and dish soap, and then dry them both thoroughly.
  9. Replace all of the components in the order you took them out.
  10. Push your refrigerator back into the wall and plug it back into the socket.

These are the most common causes of a bad smell coming from your Whirlpool refrigerator. Trying these solutions should help you to remove unpleasant odors from your refrigerator. If the smell is still there after using this guide, contact a professional refrigerator repair technician.


Leave a Reply