Refrigerator Air Filters: What You Need to Know

11 Mar, 2015

Family in a kitchen with refrigerator

If your refrigerator has an ice maker or water dispenser, it’s easy to understand why it needs a water filter, but you may be surprised to discover that your refrigerator likely also has an air filter. The experts at Electrolux explain everything you need to know about refrigerator air filters, an important component of many fridges!

What is an air filter?

A refrigerator is essentially a closed box, and if something inside it begins to spoil, it doesn’t take long for odors to permeate the entire compartment. A box of baking soda can act as an air purifier, but its deodorizing action often doesn’t extend far from the box. Because of its placement in the path of the air that circulates throughout the compartment, an air filter purifies more efficiently to reduce odors and help keep food crunchy fresh. “An air filter is more effective than baking soda,” says Babcock, who is a Minnesota state-certified appliance repair professional. “I’ve heard that an air filter can reduce odors 8 times better than a box of baking soda. That’s probably why I’m running across more and more refrigerator models that have them.”

Does my refrigerator have a filter?

Not all refrigerators have air filters, but if yours does, it’s easy to spot. The filter is typically inside a louvered housing that may be flat or cylindrical. If the filter is a flat one, you may see the tab projecting from the housing. Newer French-door, side-by-side, and single-door refrigerator models are the most likely to have an air filter. Although you may have to consult your owner’s manual to determine which filter to use in your refrigerator, the choice isn’t a difficult one — the only important consideration is that the filter fits inside the housing built for it.

Replacing your air filter

The life expectancy of most filters is six months, and to save you the trouble of keeping track of when you last installed a filter, most refrigerators feature a monitor. When you install a new filter, you typically push a reset button and hold it down for a few seconds until the monitor flashes the proper reset code. Swapping a filter out for a fresh one is not a demanding job and should take less than five minutes.

If your refrigerator has an air filter, and odors are a problem, it’s probably time to change it — even if its six-month lifetime hasn’t elapsed. Before you do that, it’s a good idea to empty the compartment and throw out any food that is past its prime. To deodorize the compartment, wash it thoroughly with a one-to-one solution of vinegar and water, taking extra care to wash the door gaskets, which is where odor-causing bacteria are most likely to accumulate. Remove the shelves and clean them separately in the sink, wiping them down with the same vinegar solution, dish soap and water or both.

For even more tips on keeping your home tidy and fresh, read our spring cleaning checklist!

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