What Is a Refrigerator Air Filter and Is It Necessary?

Posted by
John Woodard on November 04, 2022

Refrigerator air filters are one of the most forgotten filters in the home. While you may be more inclined to worry about filters that purify the water you consume, maintaining your air filters can be just as important as changing your water filter. Stagnant air can build up bacteria and pass them onto the surface of the food you enjoy, potentially causing foodborne illness. Refrigerator air filters provide a simple, inexpensive way to decrease the risk of bacterial contamination in your fridge. Below you can find information on what refrigerator air filters are, how they work, whether they are necessary for your fridge, and how to change them.

What is a refrigerator air filter?

A refrigerator air filter is a product that catches airborne contaminants inside a refrigerator. It is installed in the back panel of a fridge to deodorize and clean the intake air as well as the circulating air inside. A fridge filter works much like an air filter inside your home, but it is specialized at removing impurities from air that can cause food to spoil. As a result, the air that contacts the surfaces of food is less likely to cross-contaminate bacteria or particulates that can cause foodborne illness. Fridge air filters are particularly beneficial when food is forgotten past the point of spoiling. When a fridge is equipped with an air filter, the foul odors will not linger inside and hit the next person to open the doors. Rather, mold and bacteria that become airborne are caught in the mesh of the air filter, preventing these contaminants from constantly exposing themselves to other items in the fridge.

How do refrigerator air filters work?

Refrigerator air filters utilize a carbon-based filter media that neutralizes odors and bacteria as they pass through. This filter media specializes in reducing acidic and basic odors that are common in refrigerated foods. Air filters sit at the air intake section of the refrigerator. When air is sucked into the fridge, it is forced to pass through the carbon-lined mesh of the filter. When this air is recirculated, it passes through the filter once again, cleansing the air of any airborne contaminants picked up on the inside of the fridge.

What do refrigerator air filters remove?

Refrigerator air filters remove many hazards from a refrigerator’s air, including:

  • Particulate matter
  • Salmonella
  • Listeria
  • Mold
  • Yeast

Unwashed produce and raw meats can introduce your fridge to harmful bacteria if stored incorrectly or stored for too long. Using an air filter in your fridge can prevent cross-contamination between these products and other foods.

empty fridge

Do all refrigerators have air filters?

No, not all refrigerators are designed to accommodate an air filter. To find out if your fridge uses an air filter, check the owner’s manual or the inside of your unit. Air filters are typically located at the top of the back panel. Most refrigerators manufactured in the past decade run with an air filter, but some older models are compatible as well.

Are refrigerator air filters necessary?

While having an air filter in a refrigerator is not required, it will make the air and food inside your fridge healthier. Not all fridges are equipped with an air filter, but those that utilize a filter keep food fresh for longer and prevent unpleasant smells from hitting you once the door is opened. Over time, a fridge air filter can save you money by preventing food from becoming waste. The two most susceptible areas to bacteria in a fridge are the vegetable and meat drawers. These stem from unwashed produce, an improperly sealed drawer, or spoiling meat or vegetables. Without proper air filtration, these bacteria can contaminate other foods that you may not consider washing or cooking before consuming.

Refrigerator air filters are more important to those with asthma, compromised immune systems, or other medical conditions. Because air filters reduce the risk of bacteria contaminating food in a refrigerator, those that are more susceptible to ill effects from these bacteria should invest in maintaining their fridge air filter.

What are the benefits of a refrigerator air filter?

Refrigerator air filters provide many benefits, including:

  • Less food waste. Fridge air filters help keep food fresher for longer. This gives you more time to eat food before throwing it away. The food-saving costs of an air filter can more than make up for the price of the filter.
  • Better tasting food. Fridge air filters prevent more than just unhealthy cross-contamination. They also prevent some foods from forcing their taste onto others. Fresh air in a refrigerator keeps food tasting the way it should.
  • Better smelling refrigerator. We have all experienced the foul odors of spoiled meat, rotting vegetables, or sour milk. A fridge air filter reduces these odors, protecting you from putrid smells the moment you open your refrigerator doors.
  • Decreased food poisoning risk. The most important aspect of refrigerator filters is their ability to neutralize bacteria. Without an air filter, these bacteria can latch onto surfaces of foods that you may eat without a second thought.

grabbing fruit from fridge

How often should refrigerator air filters be replaced?

Refrigerator air filters can become clogged with particulates six months after installation. At this point, the filter should be replaced to ensure proper clean airflow throughout the fridge. When the air filter is clogged, the refrigerator uses more energy to pull air into the unit. As a result, failing to change your air filter is not only unhealthy, but it increases the cost of your electricity bill as well.

An easy way to remember to change your refrigerator’s air filter is to replace it every time you change your fridge’s water filter. Both filters should be replaced once about every six months, so changing them at the same time can help maintain the purity of both the air and water in your refrigerator. You should also reset the filter indicator lights after replacing the filters as an additional reminder.

Learn more: How Often to Replace Your Refrigerator Water Filter

Does baking soda work as well as a refrigerator air filter?

One common method of reducing odors in refrigerators is placing a box of baking soda somewhere inside the unit. This method, unlike air filters, is confined to a small area of the fridge and simply is not as effective. According to Whirlpool, fridge air filters are fifteen times more effective at filtering out foul odors than baking soda. Baking soda also cannot remove particulates out of a refrigerator’s intake air, allowing these contaminants to fester on the inside of a fridge. For refrigerators without a built-in air filter, baking soda is better than nothing, but the air inside the unit will not be nearly as regulated as fridges with an air filter.

How to replace a refrigerator air filter

How to replace the air filter in an LG French Door refrigerator

To replace an LT120F compatible air filter, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the air filter in the top back panel of the refrigerator. Remove the old filter by turning it ¼ turn counterclockwise and pulling it off the back panel.
  2. Flip the filter holder over to access the old filter. Place your fingertip on the middle of any side of the old filter and pull it off the filter holder.
  3. Remove the new filter’s packaging and gently insert the filter into the holder. The filter should snap into place.
  4. Return the filter holder to its original position. The holder must be rotated clockwise to snap back into the filter holder’s housing.

How to replace the air filter in a Whirlpool refrigerator

To replace a Whirlpool W10311524 AIR1 FreshFlow air filter, follow these steps:

  1. Remove all items on the top shelf of the refrigerator. You will also need to remove any items in the middle of the next shelf down. This is where the air filter is located.
  2. Completely remove the top shelf from the refrigerator. To remove the shelf, lift up the front and pull, then rotate the shelf until it will fit through the fridge’s opening.
  3. Lift up the cover on the air filter’s housing. The cover will open from the bottom. Push down on the top tab of the old filter and pull to remove it.
  4. Remove the new filter from its packaging. Install the new filter by inserting the bottom first with the top angled toward your body. Push down on the top tab as you push the top of the filter in. The filter should snap into place.
  5. Flip the cover back down and reinsert the top shelf. Ensure the shelf is stable before placing food back onto it.

How to replace the air filter in an Electrolux refrigerator

To replace an Electrolux EAFCBF PureAdvantage air filter, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the air filter cover at the top back of the unit. The cover will contain the text “Luxcool with PureAdvantage Air Filter.”
  2. Place your fingers on both sides of the cover and pull. You may need to rock the cover back and forth to pry it loose.
  3. Flip the cover over to reveal the old filter. Remove the old filter.
  4. Remove the new filter from its packaging. Place the new filter into the cover with the carbon facing outward. The filter will snap into place.
  5. Return the cover to the appropriate location. It will lock into place with a firm push.



If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
No comments yet.
Leave a comment