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Why Does My Freezer Smell Like Fish?

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Who doesn’t like a clean freezer? Not only is it pleasing to the olfactory lobes, but it also keeps you sure that your food and drinks won’t have a nasty smell. However, your freezer having a bad smell is inevitable. And when it begins to smell like fish, you may wonder what causes it.

A freezer may have a fishy smell for several different reasons. They range from improper care for the freezer to spoiled food and even faults of very important components of the freezer. These components include the fan, the compressor, a burnt start-up relay, and an overloaded censor.

Why Does My Freezer Have A Weird Smell?

The main cause of a weird smell in a freezer is accumulated moisture. When your freezer has faults or doesn’t take good care of it, it could start smelling bad.

Different smells may emit out of a freezer; how they smell depends on several reasons. Some weird smells you may perceive from your freezer and their possible reasons are given below:

1. Ammonia emission

This typically means that the freezer is emitting a poisonous gas called ammonia.

2. Freon emission

A nail polish cleaner smell often shows signals that chemicals contained in the freezer are leaking out. Usually, a smell like this is often Freon which is considered a harmless gas. Although the quantity of Freon emitted from a freezer when it is leaking is considered harmless to health, it has consequences.

The consequence of its leaking out is that the freezer may not function properly due to a gas shortage. In these modern days, freezers no longer contain freon because it depletes the ozone layer. Therefore, if you have a new freezer, the smell may mean something else.

3. Rotten foods

Weird smells may sometimes result from rotten foods in the freezer. Most vegetables are prone to rotting more than any other kind of food; it is important to always dispose of foods and vegetables that are no longer fit to eat to prevent the awful smell of their rotting.

4. Presence of microorganisms

Microbes such as yeast, mold, and bacteria become active in warm temperatures. This occurs mostly when the freezer has not been in use for some time but stops when microbes become activated, and their activities in the freezer cause a weird smell.

Cold often kills such microbes as they cannot survive under low temperatures. When the freezer is in use, and it is functioning properly, the microbes would die off. This kind of weird smell gets rid of by constantly keeping the fridge in its working condition and cleaning it from time to time.

5. Weird Smelling Food

Sometimes the possible reason for a weird smell comes from when food items with persisting smells are stored up in the freezer. This is even more for hot foods with persisting odor.

Since a freezer does not require you to put hot food substances in it and steam has a way of holding bad odors, putting persistent odor containing hot foods can cause a weird smell.

Why Does Everything In My Freezer Smell Like Fish?

A freezer that smells like fish could be for two reasons, a known cause and an unknown cause. It could be from when food containing fish is stored in the freezer without being covered properly. But even without putting fish in the freezer, it could still smell like fish; that’s another problem.

When a freezer smells like fish without you putting fish inside, it indicates an odor not specified in the freezer but outside of the freezer. The smell may be coming from the drain pan under the coils behind the front grill, which the evaporator coils drain into. The evaporator coils are located behind the freezer panel.

A drain pan that contains either ice or water that has accumulated for a while. When water has accumulated for some time without cleaning, the water becomes dirty and starts smelling.

This causes the fishy smell that comes out from the freezer even without fish in the freezer.

How Do You Get Rid Of Fishy Smell In Freezer?

You can get rid of the fishy smell in your freezer by taking out spoiled food and cleaning it up with detergent.

When you put a food substance containing fish and do not cover it properly, your freezer will smell. But sometimes, this fishy smell is not a result of the fish you have put into the freezer; it is a foul smell you perceive from the freezer.

Luckily, there are several ways of getting rid of a fishy smell from a freezer, no matter what the cause is. Getting rid of a fishy smell from a freezer is dependent on the underlying cause. But generally, the way to get rid of a fishy smell is by thorough cleaning. Some ways of getting rid of a fishy smell are:

1. Removing and disposing of all rotten foods and vegetables helps prevent your freezer from developing a bad smell.

2. Cleaning up water or excess moisture in the freezer regularly helps to keep its smell clean.

3. Cleaning and draining away liquid in the drain pan prevents the accumulation of water and helps to avoid the fishy smell.

4. When the reason for a fishy smell is due to food you have stored in a freezer, you did not cover the food properly before being stored in the freezer. Getting rid of this smell is done by covering the food properly before storing it in the freezer.

Basic steps on how properly to clean a freezer to get rid of a fishy smell are given below;

1. Remove all the things from the freezer; this includes the components of the freezer and food stored in the freezer.

2. Dispose of foods that have freezer burns; often, there may be ice on them.

3. Use warm water and baking soda to make a paste. Then, use the paste to scrub down all around the freezer’s interior, but You should do this gently.

4. You can use a bowl containing coffee grounds or baking soda to absorb lingering smells. The freezer should be locked up for about an hour.

Most times, some food items removed from the freezer cannot stay for that period outside of the freezer without getting spoiled; you can return the substance after some time to prevent spoilage.

5. After you have cleaned up all the freezer’s interior, put back all components and food items in the freezer. While putting back food items, ensure that they are properly closed to prevent smells from coming out and still messing the air in the freezer.


There are many reasons why a freezer will smell like fish. These reasons could be as a result of substances kept in the freezer. Sometimes for a freezer to smell like fish, it means there’s a fault with some freezer components.

However, knowing the exact cause is very important in helping you to get rid of the smell. And the best way to get rid of a fishy smell is to clean your freezer. It’s even better to develop a habit of cleaning your freezer regularly to avoid the buildup of substances that cause a smell.

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