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.
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.
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)
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
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)
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)
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
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
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)