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Why Do Freezers Sometimes Smell Good?

While most people complain about their freezers letting out a nasty, musky scent, you find yourself in front of a freezer that smells good. But hold on – is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is it natural for freezers to smell good, or does a pleasant odor also signal mold or bacterial growth?

Freezers sometimes smell good because they were recently cleaned. It could also be the smell of cold air or pleasant odors from freshly stored fruits and vegetables. That said, bacterial growth and refrigerant leaks can also let out a seemingly good smell, but they are a cause for concern.

In this article, I’ll cover all the various reasons why your freezer smells good. By the end, you should have a thorough understanding of what causes your freezer to smell good. You’ll also become aware of why some apparently pleasant odors are actually something to worry about.

5 Reasons Why Freezers Sometimes Smell Good

There are five known reasons why freezers sometimes smell good:

  • The freezer was recently cleaned
  • You’re smelling cold air
  • The freezer contains fresh fruits and vegetables
  • You’re sensing bacterial growth
  • The freezer has a refrigerant leak

Let’s go over each of these reasons in more detail.

1. The Freezer Was Recently Cleaned

The most common reason a freezer smells good is because you’re smelling it after it’s been cleaned. It’s only natural for a clean freezer to smell good in contrast to a dirty one storing weeks-old spoiled food.

Also, the overall cleaning process might add a pleasant fragrance inside the freezer.

For example, many guides recommend using a vinegar solution to clean the inside of a freezer. Some people also like to use a slightly acidic solution using diluted lemon juice or grapefruit juice.

As you can imagine, both of these methods will leave behind a pleasant citrusy smell.

Other than this, some people like to use freezer deodorizers like Polar Fresh Deodorizer (available on Amazon.com) to keep the unit odor-free. This might be what’s making the freezer smell good and refreshing.

2. You’re Smelling Cold Air

Have you ever noticed that winter air smells different than summer air? In fact, many people really enjoy the smell of the cold winter breeze. 

If you’re one of these people, it might explain why you think the freezer smells good –you’re smelling cold air.

You see, what we perceive as the smell is just different molecules in the air detected by the olfactory receptors in our nose. In the presence of cold air, the nose receptors bury themselves, which decreases our sense of smell. Furthermore, the odor molecules also move slowly in cold air. 

As a result of these two factors, we aren’t able to smell as effectively in cold air. This lack of smell gives cold air its distinct pleasant odor, which might be what you’re smelling when you open the freezer door.

3. The Freezer Contains Fresh Fruits and Vegetables 

We all know that a freezer starts to smell bad because of food spoilage, right? Similarly, if the freezer is stuffed with fresh fruits and vegetables, it’ll give off a fresh and fruity odor. 

As such, the freezer might smell good if it was recently stuffed with fresh produce straight from the market.

Besides fruits and veggies, even cooked food can let out a savory smell if stored inside an open container and left in the freezer. The same goes for beverages stored inside an open bottle or glass.

Overall, the stuff you have inside the freezer will contribute to the overall freezer smell. And if the freezer is filled with fresh stuff, it’ll smell fresh. 

However, with time, all this fresh stuff, if not timely removed, will begin to spoil and make your freezer smell horrible.

4. You’re Sensing Bacterial Growth

We all associate bacterial growth with a foul, pungent, and repulsive odor. While that’s true for most bacteria, some produce a nice, sweet, and flowery scent.

For instance, let’s consider pseudomonas aeruginosa. The bacteria is a spoilage organism and can effortlessly grow in refrigeration temperatures of 32-45°F (0-7°C). The bacteria mainly grows on meat and can give off a floral smell.

As such, if you have raw meat sitting in the freezer for a few days or weeks and notice a flowery smell in your freezer, it’s most likely a pseudomonas colony growing and ravaging on the meat. The strong smell will also come with visual cues, and you should find the meat is visibly spoiled. 

This is why, if you notice an unusual smell coming from your freezer (and freezers aren’t supposed to smell like flowers), it’s important to pinpoint the source of the scent by inspecting everything you have stored.

Despite giving off a pleasant odor, bacterial growth is a serious health concern, and you should immediately throw out any spoiled food.

5. The Freezer Has a Refrigerant Leak

Every freezer uses some type of refrigerant, which is a fluid that circulates through the freezer and cools down the internal temperature. Should there be some damage to the inner coils, the refrigerant will leak inside the freezer, and you’d be able to smell its sweet scent.

Apart from the smell, a refrigerant leak will leave an oily residue. Furthermore, if the leak continues, your freezer will slowly lose its cooling efficiency.

As such, if you notice an oily residue inside your freezer along with degraded cooling performance, you can attribute the sweet smell to a refrigerant leak.

However, to be sure, you can use a dedicated tool like the Inficon Refrigerant Leak Detector (available on Amazon.com) which can detect the mildest leakage and won’t set off any false alarm.

Inficon Refrigerant Leak Detector

Remember, refrigerants are poisonous, and inhaling enough of the substance can even become fatal. As such, contact a technician if you suspect or know there’s a refrigerant leak in your freezer.

Key Takeaways

If you notice a freezer sometimes smells good, it could mean that you’re smelling it after it’s been recently cleaned. Other than that, freshly stored fruits, vegetables, and other food products can also give off a nice smell.

It’s also possible you’re just smelling cold air, which many people claim to have a pleasant scent.

Lastly, if you’re smelling sweet or flowery fragrance, it could potentially signal a refrigerant leak or bacterial growth.

Author

  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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