Are Refrigerator Air Filters Necessary?

Are Refrigerator Air Filters Necessary

As time goes on, fridges start to have more components that are essential for human convenience, like ice makers or water dispensers. These components rely heavily on water filters to perform their job. A water filter is proven to be important to be featured in typical modern fridges. But what about air filters? What are they useful for? Are refrigerator air filters necessary?

Are refrigerator air filters necessary?

Yes, a refrigerator air filter is one of the most important components in a fridge. It helps keep the air fresh inside the fridge and safe for the food. It can remove unpleasant smells as well.

What is an air filter in a refrigerator?

An air filter is simply a filter with certain criteria so that it can trap harmful parts in the air and let the fresh air go through. When it is in a fridge, it circulates the fresh air inside the fridge.

Further reading: Best Top-Freezer Refrigerator without Ice Maker

How does an air filter work?

Basically, dirt, dust, and unpleasant odor particles are mostly bigger than the particles that make up normal, fresh air (Oxygen, Nitrogen, CO2,…).

An air filter mainly consists of a frame and one or few pieces of net with holes that are big enough for normal particles that make up the air to pass through but not enough for the bigger dirt, dust, odors,…

Refrigerator air filters ensure the fresh air circulating inside the fridge
Refrigerator air filters ensure the fresh air circulating inside the fridge

The effect of the air filter in the refrigerator

A refrigerator air filter is crucial since it ensures fresh air circulating inside the fridge and removes unpleasant smells along the way.

In fact, this is one of the ways a normal fridge manages to keep the food fresh for a longer amount of time compared to outside. Also, air filters can keep bacteria away from ruining the food.

The overall effect of air filters in a fridge depends on the size and the fridge’s model.

You may notice that old fridges tend to release unpleasant smells more often than modern ones. This is because air filters in fridges were not common in the past.

Why should you replace the air filter?

By the very nature of how the air filters work, they won’t last forever. You will need to replace them or they won’t work as well as when they are new.


Since air filters trap dirt, dust, and unpleasant smell, overtime, these particles will accumulate and stick on the surface of the air filter. They can be then sent back into the air with greater density.

You don’t need to be told that a high amount of dirt, dust getting into your nose is bad for your health. The particles can cause allergy or even asthma.


The accumulated particles on the surface of the air filter will slowly prevent fresh air from going through. Therefore, overtime, the efficiency of filtering air will decline slowly.

Further reading:  Should You Keep Ground Coffee in the Fridge?

This has knock-on consequences since to compensate for this loss, the fridge has to work harder, which leads to more electricity consumed and more heat generated, which then slowly damages the machine overtime.

Fire hazard at worst

The excess heat generated can potentially cause flame to burst out if the filter is left too long. While the chance is low, the risk is there.

When should you replace the air filter?

The refrigerator air filter’s life cycle depends on the care and maintenance of the fridge and the quality of the filter itself. The air filter tends to run only when the fridge is actually running, which is often when the door is opened.

With the reasons mentioned in the last part, you shouldn’t clean the air filter then use them again, but instead replace them completely. The recommended period of replacing the air filter is about 6 months.

How to replace the air filter?

Different fridge tend to come with different types of air filter, so the replacing process will also differ slightly between models.

When getting a new air filter, you can refer to the code number on the old filter to find the most appropriate one or get the same model.

The general steps of replacing most air filter include:

  1. Remove the old air filter
  2. Remove the plastic gasket in the vented area
  3. Lift one side of the cover, then remove it completely
  4. Install the new air filter into the old spot

You should read the instructions carefully from the manufacturer to properly replace the air filter. You can also hire an expert to do the job for you if desired.

Related questions

Do all refrigerators have an air filter?

No, not all fridges are designed with air filters. You may find air filters in the older models of French-door, side-by-side and singular-door fridge styles.

The ancient models do not have air filters, so they emitted an unpleasant smell. Recent research show that compared to baking soda and other cleaning solutions, air filters are outstanding in doing the job.

Therefore, if you plan to buy a fridge, it is important to consider choosing the ones which have the air filters to make the air inside the fridge fresh and odorless.

What happens if you don’t change the fridge air filter?

Currently, most newer fridges have air filters which trap the unpleasant smell that may come from spoiled food, veggies or fruits, and filter clean smell back into the refrigerators. It is recommended to change the air filter every 6 months, not more than 1 year.

If you forget to change the air filter, it can become clogged with particles. When this happens, the compressor must work harder to pull in and circulate the air. Your electric bills will increase, and in the long run, your health will be affected as well.

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A refrigerator air filter is very important for making sure the air circulating inside the fridge is fresh and free of unpleasant smell. Also, air filters don’t last forever, so you will need to replace them after a certain amount of time.


  1. Refrigerator Air Filters,, Retrieved on Jan 2, 2022
  2. Air Filters for Refrigerators,, Retrieved on Jan 4, 2022
Jenny Brown
Hi, I’m Jenny. On my blog, you will find helpful advice about using and organizing the kitchen appliances. You will also receive the recommendations on choosing a compact refrigerator or freezer that best fits your demands. Besides, frozen meals from the freezer bring many incredible benefits because they ensure freshness, deliciousness, and full nutrients. Many helpful tips from experts on frozen meals will also be found.