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How to Get Rid of Cut-Up Onion Smell in the Freezer

Kathy Adams

Sliced onions can leave behind a scent that lingers in a refrigerator or freezer long after the cut-up culprit is removed. Because a freezer remains closed most of the time, the scent from cut-up onions can build up and stubbornly cling to the inside of the appliance.

Sliced onions create lingering odors when left in a freezer.

Fortunately, it's possible to permanently remove the smell with just some basic household supplies you probably already have on hand.

  1. Fill a spray bottle halfway with vinegar. Fill the rest of the bottle with warm water, leaving a little room at the top. Replace the spray nozzle top securely and shake to mix.

  2. Open the freezer and remove everything. Dump the ice cubes in the sink or disposal, and discard old food items as you come across them. Temporarily place all sealed foods that you wish to keep in the refrigerator. Place any ice packs or chilled nonfood items in the sink for washing later. Remove any drawers or shelves and place them in the sink.

  3. Spray the vinegar solution liberally throughout the freezer's interior, including the top, sides, bottom and the inside of the door. Spray some of the solution directly onto a damp sponge. Wipe down all surfaces with the sponge. Continue cleaning until the inside of the freezer appears clean.

  4. Wash the ice cub trays, ice packs, shelves and drawers in a sink as you would if doing dishes. Sniff the ice cube tray afterward. If it smells of onions or other freezer smells, pour a small amount of vinegar into each section of the tray and allow it to sit for a while. Wash the tray again. Dry off the items that belong in the freezer.

  5. Return the washed freezer parts to their proper positions. Place the frozen food items back in the freezer, as well as ice packs and other frozen nonfood items. Refill the ice cube trays and return them to the freezer.


Vinegar's smell quickly dissipates, so there's no need to worry about your freezer smelling like vinegar once you've cleaned it. Straight vinegar can be used atop spills and extra-smelly areas of the freezer. This project is good to do any time you clean out the freezer or when you are running low on frozen foods, since you will need to return fewer items to the freezer during those times. You can use these techniques to clean refrigerators and coolers as well. Package cut onions in small zippered freezer bags to reduce chances of odors.


Clean up spills or loose items from inside the freezer and refrigerator as soon as you notice them to help cut down on stray mystery odors.