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Cleaning a Freezer After a Power Outage

Category Appliances
Open chest freezer
A power outage can leave your freezer full of spoiled food. It is important to clean out the freezer and remove any odors before putting new food in it. This is a guide about cleaning a freezer after a power outage.
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By 0 found this helpful
September 26, 2004

After Hurricane Ivan, power was off for 8 days, lost every thing in the freezer. I could not get home for a while, now the freezer has a horrible smell and I can't get it out. Tried bleaching the entire inside and still nothing. Also have baking soda inside.

Thanks in advance,

S. Robertson

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 17, 20041 found this helpful

I had the same problem after Frances. The inside of our fridge is clean but the tile floor around it smells rotten. It seems to get worse when the fridge turns on and off. Any tips?

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 18, 20071 found this helpful

I had the same problem after cleaning out my freezer. TERRIBLE FISH ODOR! We tried the newspaper, coffee grinds, vanilla, bleach and baking soda. Nothing worked. I was ready to bring this 2 year old freezer to the dump just to get the smell out of my basement when i decided to give it one last try. I sprayed about 1/2 bottle of lysol mold and mildew spay all over the racks and coils, especially the tubes running down the back side. Then i got a kitchen bursh and scrubbed all the racks and coils and rinsed about three times with plain hot water. I even sprayed some down the drain tube and rinsed that. Well the smell is GONE!!! There must be something in that cleaner that neutralizes that fish smell. Good luck!!

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 18, 20071 found this helpful

We had our freezer go blink also, we have removed everything even the freezer, the house still smell bad, how do I get rid of the smell in the basement and the lingering and coming upstairs??

please help!

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 26, 20040 found this helpful

Try using charcoal in the freezer. I have heard it works for those experiencing odor problems. I would also consider leaving the freezer door open as I was told a non-working freezer with closed doors will result in smells. Finally, my mom always recommends vinegar for everything. It is worth a try.

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 27, 20040 found this helpful

Turn the freezer off, open the lid and let it warm up.

Cleaners are not effective at freezing temperature. Use a sponge mop and scrub it out with an ammonia cleaner, but never mix it with bleach. That produces poison gas.

If that does not do the trick, then the cause of the smell is from the insulation or the mechanical compartment.

Do not use straight ammonia or strong solvents, because they make the plastic freezer liner brittle or damage it.

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 27, 20040 found this helpful

I had the same problem with my freezer after Ivan. I had lots of fish and shrimp in mine. What a stench!!

After emptying the contents, I turned off the power and used a strong solution of white vinegar and "mountain fresh" scented Clorox bleach in water. I wiped down everything, including the racks, and in the grooves of the door gasket.

After everything had dried, I placed some of the same scented Clorox into a glass dish and set it on a middle shelf. I turned the freezer onto the lowest setting and left it for 24 hours. It still had some lingering odor, so I left it one more day. Perfect! It's just like a brand new freezer!!

I used this same thing on my garage refrigerator with success, and my house refrigerator as well. It takes about a day for the bleach smell to dissipate, then you are back to normal!

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September 27, 20040 found this helpful

Charcoal works great for getting rid of odors. Take regular charcoal, not briquettes, and put some in the freezer along with some crumpled up newspapers. Leave the door closed for a couple of days. That should remove most of the odor. After you get rid of the odors, you can wipe down the interior with Vanilla Flavoring, that will help too.

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 27, 20040 found this helpful

Clean the freezer with a paste made of baking soda and Lemon juice. rinse it thoroughly. After cleaning, put some large dishpans filled with charcoal briquets in and allow to sit for a couple of days. This should eliminate your odors

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September 27, 20040 found this helpful

Charcoal does work well but make sure you DON'T use the self starting kind, just use the plain old briquets.

- Susan

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September 27, 20040 found this helpful

I read somewhere just today that someone had a similar problem and what he/she did was to wipe out the inside with vanilla extract.

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 27, 20040 found this helpful

You might try an old pair of knee high socks, fill them with fresh dry ground coffee. Put the filled socks in the freezer with the door closed for several days...should do the trick! This is also a great way for when you are moving; a refrigerator or freezer can be closed up for days. If in storage months!!! The coffee is a life saver.

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 28, 20040 found this helpful

Several years ago we had a power outage while we were out of town. When we got back our freezer was filled with rotten meat. We tried everything, and I do mean everything!! Nothing worked until we put saucers filled with cat litter on every shelf. We closed it up and did not open the door for about 3 or 4 days. When we did open it the rotten smell was gone. We wiped it down to get the cat litter smell out and then left the door open for a couple of days. Viola'! The freezer was good as new.

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 4, 20040 found this helpful

I noticed several people mentioning "charcoal" in this thread. Exactly, what *kind* of charcoal should be used for this purpose, and where does one get it?

Thanks for clarifying!

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 5, 20040 found this helpful

Are you supposed to leave the fridge on and running or off?

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June 27, 20060 found this helpful

The charcoal will work---you can get the regular Kingsford or even the cheaper store brands. No self lighting though

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 17, 20080 found this helpful

I have tried bleach water, vinegar water, pure vinegar, three different ordor sprays, baking soda & water which worked the best. I thought next trip the dump when my son and one other person told me about charcoal. I just happened to have a new bag. I filled a baking dish and closed it up. At first i thought i wanted the smell to be gone after spending days and days trying everything people told or gave me. But honestly the charcoal worked!!

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Anonymous
April 15, 20160 found this helpful

Wash with club soada

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November 2, 20160 found this helpful

How long do you leave charcoal in freezer

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March 25, 20170 found this helpful

I use vanilla extract. Use natural as opposed to artificial extract. Pour it from the top edges to coat the sides and then the bottom. Let this dry, then rinse with water. If needed, wash all surfaces again with a baking soda/water paste and rinse again. Voila!

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December 12, 20140 found this helpful

I've already disposed of the rotten meat from broken freezer, there is about 4" of bloody water standing in bottom of freezer. I'm going to dispose of the freezer, but how do I dispose of the bloody water first? The smell is unbearable!

By Deborah

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December 13, 20140 found this helpful

Yuck, what a horrible task you have in front of you. If it was me I think I'd open all the windows and use the wet/dry shop vac to suck up the mess as quickly as possible, remembering to breathe through my mouth & not my nose. Then I'd immediately get both the freezer and the shop vac out of the house. The shop vac could be cleaned out with the garden hose.

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June 26, 20160 found this helpful

I put lots of Vicks on my nose to get me through this horrible job. I didn't want the bloody black water to goi down the drain hole or into shop vac so, using a square plastic and practically standing on my head, I scooped as much out as I could into a bucket. Then I threw old towels into the bottom to absorb any remaining water. I threw away the towels and the bucket as I never wanted to use them again

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September 22, 20160 found this helpful

how do I get ri of the smell after dead meat has unfrozen in my freezer seems to have got into the plastic drawers it has been there for 15 days

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December 8, 20160 found this helpful

Use Odo Ban and spray inside of freezer. Will remove odor. Then clean probably with Pine Oil, hot water, vinegar and baking soda,

and a detergent. Use Odo Ban again as it also disinfects. Good luck

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January 2, 20170 found this helpful

Where can I get OdoBan ?

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January 22, 20170 found this helpful

Wal-Mart

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February 8, 20170 found this helpful

You can get OdoBan from Walmart or Home Depot. I've used it before. It smells great.

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March 18, 20170 found this helpful

What is Odo Ban?

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June 24, 20170 found this helpful

I had a power outage, that ruined the food in my freezer. I threw everything away. Then using a bucket, and old towels cleaned up the blood. Dispose of the bucket and towels. Then i sprinkled a light dose of baking soda over the entire inside of the freezer, and let it set for 30 minutes, and then wiped it out. Then I sprayed vinegar liberally over the entire inside of the freezer, and let it set for 30 minutes, and then wiped it out. Then I dusted the inside of the freezer with baking soda again, let it set for 30 minutes, and wiped it out. There was no smell left.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 11, 2007

How do you get rid of bad smell from a freezer. I had a vacation for six weeks, when I came back my freezer had stopped working. There was some meat in there which was rotten and I can't get rid of the smell. It smells like dead carion. I have used all the suggested things (e.g.) bicarbonate of soda, I have steamed it with boiling hot water, and left it outside with the door open. If anyone has a another solution, I would be happy to try it.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 12, 20070 found this helpful

My niece had the same problem. She scrubbed with bleach, aired it out, filled it with newspapers, put pans of baking soda, pans of cat litter. What FINALLY worked for her was to place a large container of fresh ground coffee beans on the bottom, close the door and let it sit for a week, closed up. You need to use fresh, dry, unused coffee grounds, not the wet grounds left after you brew coffee!

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 26, 20070 found this helpful

I made the mistake of plugging my freezer into a GFCI outlet. The outlet tripped and it was about a week before I noticed. Needless to say everything in the freezer had to go. The smell was over-powering. I took everything out of the freezer. There was blood and water at the bottom. I poured baking soda, lots of it and used a scented cat litter. I let it sit for a couple of days. Cleaned it up and it was smelling good too. This did the trick for me.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 3, 20070 found this helpful

I had a similar situation with a chest freezer of mine. I moved out of an apartment that I was sharing with two other guys and I decided to be nice and let them borrow it (since it was full of frozen food that would never fit in their smaller freezer). A fuse went out one day and the freezer lost power. They didn't notice until WAY later. The smell was horrid. I tried using hot water and soap, Comet with Bleach, and a bunch of orange scented surface wipes. The smell seemed to be gone but it quickly returned the next day. So, I had just now tried the following:

- One bowl of water and charcoal

- One bowl of cat litter

- One open box of Arm and Hammer baking soda

- One glass full of unused coffee grounds

and last but not least...

- One peach scented car air freshener

I've also heard to use pure vanilla extract but I didn't have any. I will report my results tomorrow.

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December 1, 20070 found this helpful

Eons ago I was a refrigerator/freezer service technician. If liquids like blood leaked into the insulation you have two options: pull the liner out of the freezer and replace the insulation, which takes two people who really know what they are doing, or replace the freezer. If you pay to replace the insulation the cost will equal or exceed the cost of a new freezer.

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 16, 20080 found this helpful

How do you know if the blood is in the insulation?

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By guest (Guest Post)
May 10, 20080 found this helpful

I am sharing a house with randoms at the moment, and I had been away for a week and got back to find a horrid smell as soon as I walked in the house. They said the smell was the bin then I opened the freezer to get food out and the smell knocked me over. They turned off the freezer at the wall and all my food was brown and soggy.

I cleaned out all the food and blood then used hot soapy water. Then drained that out and let it air out for a couple of days outside and it still stinks. So I poured in a bottle of white vinegar and it still smells. How can I get rid of the smell?

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Anonymous
January 27, 20160 found this helpful

Charcoal let set for 24 hours door closed an done smell gone

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December 13, 20160 found this helpful

How to get rotten smell out of unplugged freezer

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By 0 found this helpful
March 19, 2017

My freezer went out. I threw everything away, but didn't clean it. It needs to be wiped out. The smell is gone, however I had to put a bag of meat in the freezer. Will it ruin it till I can get to it? It is really cold out, but won't be in a couple of days. Can I wait?

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March 19, 20170 found this helpful

Freezer temperatures need to be 0 degrees F. If you are not going to have that for the entire time you will be away then discard the meat. Clean the freezer well before you put anything else in.

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March 19, 20170 found this helpful

Is this a new bag of meat? Can you put it at a neighbors freezer or family friend nearby?

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By 0 found this helpful
July 2, 2011

NJ had that bad winter last year. We never got around to cleaning the freezer out after it failed somewhere around Christmas. After a while we just forgot about it. So now, July 1st, the freezer stinks and we won't forget that. Are the fumes going to be toxic to breath in?

By HELPme911

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 3, 20110 found this helpful

Our daughter's small chest type freezer was off for about 3 weeks and she did not know it. She did not have much meat in it but had a lot of frozen tomatoes. It was full of food and it smelled rotten. We took it out on the deck, scooped out the liquid mess and put it in 5 gallon buckets and poured it out in the woods. The smell about got us.

After getting it cleaned out, we scrubbed it with Clorox water and that did not get rid of the odor. Then we tried white vinegar and still it smelled bad. We also cleaned with lemon juice and soda. It still smelled bad so we let it sit outside in the hot sun with the top open for a couple of days. It still had the odor in it and I thought she would have to junk it but we took it back inside and plugged it up and let it run.

She put a bag of charcoal in it and gradually filled it with jugs of water so it would be full. After a few months, the odor was gone and the freezer was fine. No odor at all.

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July 6, 20110 found this helpful

Please remember when the electricity is off inside of your home because of ice storm or snow it will be at or below freezing outside your home. I usually clean my freezor in winter by loading all the food in ice chests or boxes and set them in my car. With temperatures around the freezing mark I have plenty of time to clean it throughly. So the next time your power is out take the food outside of your home stored in protected containers and either place in a vehicle on the north side of your home or put in protective containers to keep the vermits out and save your hard work. I have done this in the winter when the power is out and have never lost anything yet. As for the smell, I like to use natural products and would probable make a paste of vinegar and baking sode and clean throughtly and leave in the sun for a few days to air out.

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March 11, 20070 found this helpful

We just survived Hurricane Katrina and are now beginning the clean-up. We emptied our chest freezer of all the contents right after the storm hit, but now it smells awful. The power has just now come back on after 10 days. How do I clean it and get rid of the awful smell before I can use it again?

Denise from Mississippi

Answers:

Cleaning The Freezer After a Power Outage

A used appliance store gave me the following advice for a freezer full of spoiled meat: Clean the surfaces first (probably with a diluted bleach solution) then put a large open box of odor-absorbing scented cat litter in the bottom of the freezer and close the door for a couple of days. (Leave the freezer off.) It worked for me. I have also heard that filling the freezer full of crumpled newspaper will help. Can't remember if I tried that as well. Good luck! (09/09/2005)

By Rhonda S.

Cleaning The Freezer After a Power Outage

Crumpled newspaper will do the job. I once dealt with a full freezer that had been without power for over a week. And the crumpled newspaper removed the stench in quick order. (09/09/2005)

Cleaning The Freezer After a Power Outage

A neighbor once had that happen to her freezer above the fridge. The thawed blood had gotten under the plastic you might say, into the ventilation holes and the landlord said that it had to be replaced because of health reasons. I hope this is not your case. (09/10/2005)

By Cindy in AL

Cleaning The Freezer After a Power Outage

After you have throughly cleaned the freezer you can wipe it down with vanilla extract. After that try crumpled newspapers and that should do the job. (09/10/2005)

By mary wallace

Cleaning The Freezer After a Power Outage

As a military family when we moved, we always put coffee grounds in a clean sock, one in the freezer and one in the frig. We never had a problem with odor. (09/10/2005)

By Memere

Coffee Grounds

My niece bought a big new deep freeze and quickly filled it with bulk purchases of various meats she found on sale. Unfortunately, it had to be placed in her attached garage and her kids were horsing around and unknowingly knocked the electrical plug out of the outlet. She discovered this WAY too late! She did the clorox bleach, the cat litter, the baking soda, the crumpled newspapers and still had a bad odor.

Someone told her to dump about 5 pounds of fresh (unused) coffee grounds in it, close the lid for about a week and then remove the grounds. It worked! I imagine that trying all the other methods first made it more likely that the coffee grounds finally made it stop stinking! I am so sorry for all the loss you have endured. Our whole country is heartsick and working on ways to help. (09/10/2005)

By Grandma Margie

Cleaning The Freezer After a Power Outage

I just had this happen to me with a deep freeze full
of beef. And it went past 10 days before we noticed.

I had to

I wish you good luck and if I can help anymore let
me know. I wish you health, love and joy. Katrina broke many hearts yet makes so many stronger.

My mantra has always been; I may fall in the mud but I refuse to roll in it!
Prayers and peace to you. (09/15/2005)

By meoowmom

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February 20, 20170 found this helpful

Here is a suggestion next time you buy a freezer. If it is possible, find one with large, sealed plastic bucket drawers. If anything goes anyway wrong, you can more easily empty these out than the insulation in your freezer. I was really lucky ours had this design. I had no idea what to do with the rancid meat-soup, and also had a lot of newspaper on hand, which went into a bag, sitting in a bucket. It seems to have helped soak up the mess, at least. then sat the disinfectant in the buckets for a few days before I spray this thing down.

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