After a power outage or malfunction a refrigerator that had food in it is not a pretty site. Mold can grow rapidly in these conditions. This is a guide about cleaning a moldy refrigerator.
I need help removing mold from my refrigerator.
By Jackie from Detroit, MI
Bleach will not kill mold the green or the black mold. I'm in mitigation and fire restoration. You need an antimicrobea that's kills beneath the surface not just on the top as well.
You need an antimicrobea on green or black mold. Bleach will Not kill mold.
I had my fridge off last Wednesday before bed time planning to turn it on the next morning before leaving for work. Unfortunately, I missed out and got back home only in time for bed, and had totally forgotten.
Before leaving home again on Friday morning, my son opened the fridge and that's when we found there was spoiled food. Could not do much. Was busy again the whole weekend, and have been busy beginning this week due to opening of new school year.
Today I opened it to remove trays from the bottom and when checking the top, found small worms crawling around. What do I do with this stinky fridge? It is still good? Can I clean it and reuse it? How?
By Jay R from Suva, Fiji
Take all the removable pieces, i.e. drawers, shelves and such outside to the patio and give them a good scrub with bleach water. You'll need to give the inside a good bleach wash too. This is what I did while living in Houston and had several power outages during hurricane season. I remember once we had a block party behind our building which ran for 6 blocks on a street behind a golf course. All the neighbors emptied all the perishables from their fridges and we invited a few stray golfers over and had a great time! There were several kinds of meat and chicken on BBQs all up and down the row.
You must certainly toss all the contents of your fridge, and I hope that you now know that you can not leave a fridge unplugged with food in it. After you clean out the fridge and wash it thoroughly, you should likely let it air out to let any foul odors and the bleach odors dissipate. I would also use a couple of boxes of baking soda in the fridge to help eliminate odors after you have plugged it in again. Hopefully, you will be able to clean this well enough to use it again. I would use hot soapy water first, and then a dilute bleach solution or perhaps baking soda dissolved in water as a rinse solution. Never, ever unplug a fridge if you have food in it.
How do you get mildew and mold out of a freezer that had food left in it with no electricity? The doors were left open so it is dried on there. The smell is not that great either. Can you pressure wash it out? It is a new fridge with a bottom freezer that is being left in the house we are buying.
I would hate to have to get rid of it, but the mold/mildew mixture looks pretty bad. It also oozed a sticky looking liquid on the floor. I can't wait to see what is under the fridge. Any help/suggestions would be appreciated.
NiqueLSU from Baton Rouge, LA
I left my fridge in my college dorm and they turned the electricity off. I went to my dorm today and there is mold inside my fridge HELP! What do I do?
Cinnamon oil. Especially if the smell persists after you've cleaned the interior thoroughly.
I accidentally unplugged our fridge/freezer for two weeks while we were gone for Christmas, and when we came back, the entire interior was coated in mold. We cleaned the fridge in and out with bleach and warm water, then left it open (keeping our food outside) for a week. There was no visible mold, but it still smelled so strong that you could smell it from outside the apartment. We tried putting the food back in, but everything smelled and tasted of mold, even when we kept it in ziplock bags. We cleaned it again with bleach and water. The next day we cleaned it with lemon juice, salt, and water. Slightly better. But still terrible. The problem was that the mold had grown into the air duct systems, and there was no way we could access those areas to clean them. When we would plug the fridge in after cleaning the air that would blast out would be noxious and overwhelming.
Finally, I told my girlfriend that we would get a new fridge if the smell wasn't completely gone in 5 days. This seemed impossible. I found some studies saying that cinnamon oil is a superb antiseptic, and has been shown to slow mold growth in moldy bread by more than 10 days when the oil coats the paper around the bread. Why not give it a try, I thought, since nothing else was working.
I bought 2 oz of cinnamon oil in Manhattan for $30 (you can get it somewhat cheaper on the internet). I covered the bottoms of two mall porcelain bowls with cinnamon oil and placed the bowls in the fridge. A couple of times a day I would blow a hair dryer, on high hot, into the bowls so that the oil was heated and diffused (use a face mask--this stuff is strong!) throughout the fridge and freezer. I kept it up until the bowls were very hot. Then I would close the doors. The smell was very nice compared to the mold smell that we'd lived with for the previous 3 weeks. I tried to blow the oil especially into the hidden areas that were accessible to air/mold.
Within 2 days, the mold smell was almost completely gone. Within 4 days all you could smell was cinnamon. I continued the treatment for about 5 days. It's been about 3 weeks now, and the fridge and freezer both smell impeccable, if cinnamony. My girlfriend is amazed and very pleased.
The research supports this stuff. It's a little work, and the cinnamon oil is expensive, but it's a miracle. I promise it works.
The power was off at one of my rental properties for three months. The tenants left a small amount of food and one container in the fridge. There were fruit flies all over the house. I haven't dared open the fridge since I put the power back on. Should I clean it out at this point, or get another fridge?
By Yve W.
I can help with the flies and the fridge. Yes, you can clean it, but it must be done before any smell permeates the lining of the fridge walls. After that, and you won't win.
You can use a couple boxes of baking soda. Wad up some news paper and put several pieces on each shelf. The paper will absorb the odors as will the B/Soda. Clean down with bleach water and you are good to go.
If you still have the flies, put a 1/2 c. of apple cider vinegar in a plastic cup, and drop in 2 drops of dish washing liquid. This breaks up the surface adhesion of the water and they dive in and drown. If you don't have any cider vinegar, put some water and sugar in the cup, and chop up some apple bits.
I hope these helped. PBP
My power was off and the refrigerator was full of food. How can I clean and remove mold from it? It has been sitting for 6 months.
By Tami from Valpo, IN
The Archives at the bottom of the page and also the website I posted will help you clean your refrigerator.
Use bicarbonate of soda mixed to a paste with water and a scouring pad for non-stick pans so you don't scratch the surfaces. Then wipe it out with white vinegar. If you fill a small open container with bicarb powder and leave it the closed fridge it will also absorb the smells as well as the things you buy for this purpose.
How does copper help in killing mold?
By Lilian from Kenya
What kind of mold are you trying to remove? Actually, copper can create green mold on the copper itself.
The green that can develop on copper is known as Verdigris. Verdigris is formed as a reaction to acids and salts in the air. By sea air, mostly Copper Chloride is formed, and in inland areas, Copper Carbonate is formed. Both appear as a green crumbly crust. The green found on copper is not a 'mould'.
How do I clean moldy fridge seals and keep it from rusting?
I am not sure about the seals, but bleach kills mould on most anything. But it may be harmful to your seals. I suggest to try bleach on a little area and clean it off. Then look at it after a day or two and see if there is any damage. If it looks OK, use it on the rest of the area.
Change your seals to silicone seals and they can get clean with soap and water.
Is it possible to clean a refrigerator that has been sitting with food in it for a year with no electricity and has mold and mildew in it? It has an ice and water dispenser.
By someonewhoneedshelp from PG MD
We are faced with the same problem. My daughter's fridge needs to be replaced and I told her to go and get mom's. Mom passed away a year ago and the fridge is just sitting there and she had bought it new about 4 years before her passing. I told my daughter to take it by a car wash on the way to her house and use those power wash sprayers first before taking it home to be scrubbed. She hasn't done it yet, but maybe it is a thought for you. It's worth a try and really beats the price of a new one. (07/17/2009)
Remove any food that is still in it.
Try a spray bottle filled with a heavy bleach and water solution and spray liberally all over the shelves, door, and everywhere. Let that stand for several hours, then respray. I've done this before with a fridge that was left open on the back porch in the summer heat.
If odors are still a problem, try either baking soda or coffee grounds in a bowl in there to absorb the odors. (07/17/2009)
The bleach answer is your best bet if it's all surface stuff, but if the smell has gotten into the 'lining' inside there is nothing you can do. We had a nice fridge that somehow got unplugged with a freezer full of meat. I tried everything I could think of to eliminate the smell. I finally called a couple of manufactures and dealers and asked for advice, that's what I was told and they were right. We taped it up and warned the junk guy to open at his own risk. It was bad. (07/17/2009)
They're right about the bleach for the surfaces, although vinegar works well, too.
But if a smell persists, a strong smell, then you have mold in the insulation and in the cooling ducts, etc. One person below claims that there's nothing that you can do, but I had the problem and it's been fixed for three months now.
The trick for mold inside of the insulation, etc. is to buy an ounce of pure cinnamon oil. Cover the bottom of a small bowl with a layer of oil and place the bowl in the fridge. A few times a day, use a hairdryer on high-hot to heat the oil and diffuse it throughout the inside of the fridge while the fridge is running. Try to "shoot" some of the cinnamon oil into the air ducts as well. You may also want to rub a little oil around the ducts. Improvise a bit.
We had an unconquerable smell in our fridge for 3 weeks. I tried the cinnamon oil because I was desperate and my girlfriend was insisting we get a new fridge. It was so bad after 3 bleach cleanings that we couldn't keep food in there for a day without it smelling powerfully of mold. The cinnamon oil worked in about 3 days, amazing. It still is working, as everything smells slightly of cinnamon oil even 3 months later.
The oil is expensive, but it's an amazing antifungal and antiseptic (see the NYTimes), and it smells good! Best of luck! (03/23/2010)
Due to loss of electricity my refrigerator is severely molded. How do I clean and sanitize it? Please help.
By Sarah from NY
Start by scrubbing it well with baking soda made into a paste with water. Wipe all of that off. Then wipe down with a bleach and water solution, all surfaces that you can reach, prop the door open (out of contact with kids that might think it is a good place to play and get trapped), and leave it set for a few days. You may have to repeat the bleach process a few times. Then wipe down again to remove the bleach, let it dry, and restart it. Hopefully that will help. An old toothbrush will help with scrubbing out any stubborn mildew. (03/24/2010)
I have black mold in my Sub Zero refrigerator. Any suggestions?
Does anyone have black mold in their GE Monogram refrigerator?
By Abernathie from Columbia, MO
Please read all of the archived answers below. There is one person who posted the reason for her mold and has the same model as you do, but there are other posts besides her's that you need to understand about mold. Good Luck! (09/06/2009)
I had mildew in my fridge, back in the fan. I believe it might have been for the same reason as one of the archived posts. We suffered no ill effects, so I am quite sure it was mildew, and not the toxic mold others are reporting.
I cleaned the fridge periodically with bleach. If I took it apart and bleached everything, it stayed clean for several months. If I just tried to do it quickly, it grew back in about 3 or 4 months. (09/06/2009)
My GE monogram refrigerator has black mold. I have to clean it every 2-3 months and have to set it to 9. Something freezes. The mold is still growing with setting 9. I bought it 2 years ago. The problem started right away and service people could not solve it. (10/29/2009)