Cleaning a Moldy Refrigerator


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


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By mcw 80 1,754 02/26/2011


The Archives at the bottom of the page and also the website I posted will help you clean your refrigerator.

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By ayesha christmas 38 130 02/27/2011

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.

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By Lisa 2 656 02/27/2011

One of my good friends had to leave her house in a hurry because of a hurricane (Katrina). Her house was okay, but the fridge was a loss. And that was after a few weeks. I can't imagine what it would be like after 6 months.

And I remember on an episode of the BBC show How Clean is Your House they tested the inside of a woman's fridge, and it came back that the fridge should no longer be used. Besides the yuck in the dirty fridge, the chemicals they'd have to use to clean it would make the fridge unsafe to use afterwards.

So please be careful. Six months is a long time. If, after you clean it up, you have any doubts, you should probably let it go.

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Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.

Archive: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

I have a GE top-bottom fridge that was sitting in my buddies garage for at least a year. Surprisingly roses didn't grow inside but mold did, some tiny pin head sized mold. I was able to get some sort of eggs for some creature that loves smelly stuff, and some disgusting looking black sludge off the bottom.

I used the whole bottle of Clorox all purpose cleaner with bleach and hosed everything out. Aside from some stains on the bottom that aren't coming out without a torch, the thing is spotless. I opened a box of baking soda and put it in there but it still freaking reeks. It wouldn't surprise me if there was still mold on some of the inner workings of the fridge but I don't know if I can get to them.

If anyone knows what parts I should specifically look at please let me know and please for the love of god tell me how to get rid of this smell!

Shane from Orlando, FL

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

We had a freezer with spoiled meat in it. The thing that did the trick was charcoal. Buy a bag, tear it open, put it in the fridge and leave it there for a week or longer. J. B. (02/02/2008)

By Grandma Bess

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

This worked for me. Try putting (cooking) vanilla on a couple of cotton balls in the fridge. I did it and the smell was gone. I also kept the baking soda in there but the vanilla worked. Also regular charcoal gets rid of smells. (02/02/2008)

By Delilah

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

I don't know about the mold issue. But as far as the smell goes: Place several shallow bowls of vinegar in the fridge and leave them for a day or so. This should remove any trace of nasty smell from the fridge. I don't know how it works so well, but the vinegar somehow "sucks" up any "all" nasty odors (even from frying fish!).

What a nasty cleaning job that must have been! Sounds like you needed a gas mask to clean that fridge! Good for you for taking it on! I like the charcoal idea as well. (02/02/2008)

By Cyinda

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

Newspapers will also help absorb the smells in the fridge. Crumple up a bunch and leave in there for a couple of days. (02/03/2008)

By Toolgirl

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

If the other things don't work try kitty litter. Just the plain old clay litter. Take a 5# bag, punch holes in it with an ice pick (lots of holes) and shut the fridge up with litter in it for a few days. Worked on a freezer for me when the manufacturer said it would have to be taken apart and new insulation put in (which was cost prohibitive). Good luck to you. (02/04/2008)

By jsham

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

Just a thought after reading the other posts, you might have to run it with these smell absorbing products in it to get the full benefit. Just having the stuff in it closed may not do the trick. If all that fails, bring it outside in the summer and let the sun bake the smell out of it. Sunlight is a natural odor killer as it kills molds, bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and other nasty varmints.


By Lynn

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

Fresh coffee grounds in a cup will absorb yucky smells - proof! You will love it! Best fragrance - works in a hurry too. (02/05/2008)

By satellite88

Archive: Cleaning a Moldy Refrigerator

We had to store our items in storage for about 3 months. My refrigerator was stored with the doors closed and it is overrun with mold and smells terrible. What is the best way to clean this?

KH from Ellabell, GA

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

During Hurricane Ike I lost some meat and chicken in my freezer. I tried many things and as a last resort I hosed my freezer and fridge with Febreze. It took away all the odor and the Febreze odor of spring flowers dissipated in a day or two. (03/15/2009)

By MartyD

RE: Removing Strong Odor from Moldy Refrigerator

This is too late for you, but might help others: when my son and family emigrated, the packers advised putting a few teabags in all the white goods. He said this prevented the odours developing. Re: your problem, try washing freezer out with bicarbonate of soda. (03/17/2009)

By skinnyjinny

Archive: Cleaning a Moldy Refrigerator

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.


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