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Cleaning a Smelly Freezer

Cleaning the stench out of a freezer can be difficult especially if you have a lot of built up ice. With these tips you will have your freezer smelling fresh again. This is a guide about cleaning a smelly freezer.

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February 22, 2008 Flag
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We have a huge problem. We have an old chest freezer downstairs in the basement. It was still operating, or so we thought, until my husband opened it recently. The odor was immediate and horrible. I have never smelled anything worse in my entire 50 plus years. It immediately filtered through our entire house (we have a 3 bedroom ranch built in the 50's).

He closed the lid on the freezer immediately, but it took a couple of hours for the odor to fade. Now we have the problem of cleaning out the freezer. I can't bear to open it again. The meat is now floating in water from bags of ice that had melted. Can anyone give some advice on how to clean this mess without making the entire family ill from the fumes?

By Jackie from Ohio

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February 22, 20080 found this helpful
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You do have a problem! Hubby says there should be a drain on the bottom of the freezer. Hook a hose up to that drain.

Connect the hose to an empty 5 gallon water jug and dump the water in an appropriate place. Repeat until water is drained from the freezer.

Plug the drain. Get a couple of strong people to pick up the (now waterless and lighter) freezer. Take the freezer to an appropriate disposal area.

If you really want to save the freezer, it will take some time to clear out the rancid meat. Scrub with bleach.

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February 22, 20081 found this helpful
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We had this happen to us several years ago, when it accidentally got unplug & sat for a week before we 'discovered'' it. Whew, but we plugged it in, let it freeze back up, then dumped the food inside to a container we took to the land fill where they disposed of it by buying it in something we didn't have. Then we cleaned it out with baking soda & water. LOTS OF BAKING SODA.

Then we placed newspapers & barbecue briquets inside on the paper & let sit for 3 days...we then replaced the sills, cause it did leave the smell in them, cleaned it with bleach solution and placed another round of newspaper in with briquets & BAKING SODA. It completely took the smell out, still have it, and have never smelled it. We have even moved 2 times since and being unplugged during the move we put newspaper & soda in, just as a precautionary measure, but no smell or anything.

This freezer is almost 55 yrs. old too! VERY THICK SIDES If it is operable, then it is worth the try....let us know how it goes...Good Luck..Vicki in KY

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March 2, 20080 found this helpful
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You can wear a swimmer's nose plug, or (a tip from a coroner) put vics vapor rub under your nose.Try wearing a dusk mask with something in it that doesn't bother your breathing - eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, etc.

Get some rubbermaid tubs and scoop out the water, debris, etc. Dig a hole in your yard, put an old screen on top, and dump the water there. I wouldn't mess with the toilet because you might clog it with something - plus the goal is to get it outside. Bury the hole back up so wildlife or pets don't try to mess with it.

Triple bag the garbage and get rid of it.

Then go spend the night at a friend's house or something and leave the upstairs windows open with floor fans circulating the air. Yuck. You have a job ahead of you.

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October 31, 2005 Flag
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During the recent hurricane in Florida we lost electricity. There was frozen fish in the freezer and it defrosted. I cannot get the rotten fish smell out. I have washed it two times and the smell is still there. Any help would be appreciated.

Happy Day from Boynton Beach, FL

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November 10, 20050 found this helpful
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I have found fresh coffee grounds (in pie plates to increase their surface area) or crumpled up newspapers (Placed in a salad bowl,& very slightly dampened w/a spray bottle) work the best to pull odors out of the materials interiors of appliances and automobiles are made of. Hope this helps..

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June 9, 20080 found this helpful
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You are all brilliant, my freezer is smelling like a summers day. I had already tried bicarb to no avail. Your ground coffee and newspaper did the trick.

Thank you!

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October 3, 20080 found this helpful
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I turned off my frig and washed it out with soapy water, then I went over it and cleaned it out with lemon and vinegar. I let it sit open for one day. It did not work. As soon as I plugged in the frig it was smelling like shrimp again. Then I put two round cake pans FILLED with ground coffee and crumbled up news paper lightly sprayed with water and let it sit for two whole days. It WORKED. My frig does not smell like shrimp or fish any more. It smelled like coffee but it will go away in a couple of days and your frig will smell good.

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August 1, 2016 Flag
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My freezer was turned off the other day for long enough for the meat to thaw but not go bad. The blood from the meat ran down the freezer sides. I thought I got it all because the freezer itself did not smell. Two days later and there is a terrible smell coming from near the freezer. I moved the big sucker and there is some blood that had found its way to the floor. There also appears to be some in a tiny metal tray supporting the internal components of freezer.

Now I cleaned all of the blood, dismantled the freezer inside and Lysoled and CLRed and scrubbed with all propose. The freezer doesn't stink, but behind the freezer and even down near the metal tray it smells like animal urine and rot. The copper lines that feed the inside coils enter the freezer is right where smell is coming from. I'm a loss at how to proceed. I just bought this thing. Thanks.

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August 3, 20160 found this helpful

You may need a refrigerator service person to find and clean the problem area. It may be difficult or impossible for you to locate and fix yourself.

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July 25, 2016 Flag
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We recently bought a used deep freezer. It has a bad odor of fish. It's been unplugged. Yesterday I put a box of baking soda in it and plugged it in. How do I get that smell out?

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July 25, 20160 found this helpful

You may have a serious problem! Biofilm is a difficult to impossible odor to remove from fridges and freezers. It is similar to plaque on teeth but much more difficult to remove. We had a similar problem with our fridge and our landlady had to replace it. It was clear that she knew about the odor as she did not complain when we advised her of the odor problem.

The article below from the "Geeks On Home" provides various methods to remove odors but also states the smell may have gotten into the liner and insulation. The article recommends replacing the liner and insulation to resolve the odor problem. In your case, it may be cheaper to buy a new freezer.

http://www.geeksonhome.com/how_8071661_remove-bad-smell-freezer.html

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May 6, 2011 Flag
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The freezer was turned off and we were away for 5 weeks. We came back to a freezer full of rotting pungent food. Please help! What can I do to get rid of the smell? Please!

By Maggie

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May 7, 20110 found this helpful
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Wash completely. (I'm sure you've done that a few times already) then spray with lemon oil, let rest for a day, then wash again. You can also place a bowl of ground coffee in there for a few days to absorb the yucky aromas. If you would like to make a lemon "oil" of your own, you can boil lemon halves previously used for lemonade etc. in a salted water until the liquid has reduced to half. I start with 1/2 litre water to two lemon halves.

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May 7, 20110 found this helpful
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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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May 14, 20110 found this helpful
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Coffee grounds, un-used! I put fresh coffee from container on a plate & place in freezer and keep changing till "rotten" smell goes way!

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August 26, 2011 Flag
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Many years ago, my son unplugged my well stocked freezer to plug in his stereo. Unfortunately, he did not plug the freezer back in when he finished listening to his CD. I didn't realize the freezer was unplugged for close to a month. You have no idea how sickening the smell and sight was when I opened that freezer door that morning. It was absolutely horrible! I had just bought a hind quarter of beef and had frozen tomatoes and other vegetables for the winter. Everything was gone.

It wasn't easy, but somehow I was able to clean out and dispose of everything. Cleaning with bleach, baking soda, ammonia, and vinegar did nothing to rid my freezer of the horrible odor. We finally gave up and decided to just take it to the dump.

The very day our friend was due to come over and help load the freezer into the truck to go to the dump, my dear aunt told me she knew a way to rid freezers of smells, use 'pure' vanilla. She said to take a large bottle of 'pure' vanilla and put it in a bowl and then put the bowl in the freezer and close the door. Leave the freezer closed without opening it for 3-4 days.

I was skeptical, but figured why not. I had nothing more to lose. We canceled the dump run and purchased the largest bottle of pure vanilla we could find. Four days later, I opened up the freezer to find absolutely no smell lingering from the rotted meats or vegetables. Absolutely amazing. It was just as fresh as ever.

We lost a ton of meat and produce that day, but we used the freezer for another 5 years.

Source: My dear aunt

By Bayliner from Perry Hall, MD

August 10, 2015 Flag
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I just a few minutes ago purchased a used freezer. It was nasty. This freezer truly smells like something was dead in it! I have cleaned it with straight bleach, then Clorox Clean Up and just rinsed with vinegar. What can I do to get rid of this smell?

June 28, 2016 Flag
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I just pulled my relatively new fridge out from storage and I realized I made a huge stinky mistake. For the past 6 months a few old pieces of unidentified meats just rotted in the freezer portion of my my unplugged fridge while in storage.

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