Why Tea Bags Are The Secret Weapon Your Smelly Fridge Needs

Opening the doors to your refrigerator should be like unlocking the gates to heaven — streams of divine light illuminating your favorite foods, a gush of crisp air, and the sublime smell of... ugh, what's that revolting stench? If you thought rank refrigerators were a curse exclusive to your days in college. Think again. Foul-smelling fridges can plague the most conscientious cleaners. Fortunately, you don't have to call in a professional to rid your home of the nauseating aroma — simply reach for some tea bags and allow their natural ability to absorb putrid odors restore your fridge to a paradise for perishables.

Finding the root cause of a funky-smelling fridge may take some digging. Maybe it's the soggy salad, moldy lasagna, liquefying cucumber, or combination thereof that's causing your refrigerator to smell like a landfill. Regardless, there's no need to pull the trigger on purchasing a new refrigerator just to improve your kitchen's air quality. Instead, simply head to your pantry and pull out a bunch of tea bags, which act as a pH neutralizer to acid-based smells in your refrigerator. Simply put, this chemical reaction allows tea bags to counteract the stench flooding your fridge.

How to use tea bags to get rid of odors in your refrigerator

Start the deodorizing process by drying out a few used tea bags and placing two or three on a plate or in a small bowl. The amount of tea bags needed will depend on the size of your refrigerator and the intensity of the odor. If you are tackling a specific stinky spot, position the tea bags as close to the affected area as possible. However, if your entire fridge reeks, spread the tea bags out evenly, placing some in the back, others in drawers and bins, and the remainder on upper and lower shelves. 

If you run out of tea bags, supplement with loose tea leaves. Just place them in an open container and strategically situate inside your refrigerator. The leaves should start absorbing nasty odors almost immediately. Depending on the severity of the stench, the loose tea or tea bags will need to be changed out every two to three days.

Tips to consider when using tea bags to deodorize refrigerator

Whether you use loose tea leaves or tea bags to neutralize odors, it's important to expose as much of their surface area to the nasty-smelling refrigerator air as possible. Don't pile a bunch of tea bags or loose leaves in a deep container, stick it in the corner of your refrigerator, and expect it to effectively suck up the stench. Rather, select a shallow dish and stand up the bags next to each other to allow as much air circulation as possible.

Since this hack calls for used tea bags, don't feel obligated to brew expensive tea. Traditional black tea absorbs bad smells just as well as fancier green and oolong types, which feature scent profiles that range from floral to fruity. Also, keep in mind, there is a difference between scented and flavored tea. Scented teas use natural products — fruit, flowers, or spices — rather than flavored teas, which include artificial products, such as synthetic oils. While both types contain neutralizing properties, scented tea bags may offer a more delicate aroma than flavored tea leaves or bags.