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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August 26, 2011 Flag

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.

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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

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June 19, 2006 Flag

If you have ever had a freezer lose power and have had the stench of rotten meat; here's a tip I learned from my grandmother. Not sure why, but their freezer shut down. They always bought their meat in later year, in halves. Before that they were farmers and raised their own.

After cleaning their freezer out with baking soda, they put a large bag of charcoal in the bottom of the fridge for several days. The smell was gone and they were able to use the freezer again. Before the charcoal, they thought they were going to have to get rid of it.

Several years after this happened to them, my husband needing a 3 prong adapter, unplugged our freezer and forgot to plug it back in. I used Grandma's advise and it worked for me. Appliances are very expensive so I appreciated Grandma's knowledge in the matter. I'm kind of new to this site and imagine that this may have been posted before, but thought maybe there are other people out there like me. Speaking of this site, It is awesome! I'm addicted to it.

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January 4, 20090 found this helpful
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Thank you so much for this. We just returned from a holiday to find our electricity had shut down 6 days prior and our freezer was full and the stench was horrible. So tomorrow I will go out and get some charcoal. Thanks to my friend Hitomi for finding this for me. Will let you know if it worked.

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June 20, 2016 Flag

This is a guide about cleaning rotten meat odors from a freezer. A power outage or a malfunctioning freezer can leave you with spoiled meat and the odor that comes with that.

Contents of a freezer compartment from a refrigerator with the freezer on top

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February 22, 2008 Flag

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
Best Answer

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, 20083 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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October 31, 2005 Flag

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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May 6, 2011 Flag

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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August 10, 2015 Flag

I just a few minutes ago purchased a used freezer from a girl who had no clue. It was nasty. This freezer truly smells like something was dead in it! I have never smelled anything like this and I work in surgery and smell a lot of things. I have cleaned it with straight bleach, then Clorox Clean Up and just rinsed with vinegar. It is awful! It still stinks like something rotten or pet urine. What can I do to get rid of this smell? Thanks.

Sam

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August 11, 20150 found this helpful

I have had good luck with this method. Turn the freezer on it's side and look to make sure nothing crawled under it and died. Then, if you have to, unscrew the outer shell from the insulation which is often Styrofoam. If something melted and got into that...you can replace it but it's hard to win the day with a very big or very old stain.

The best thing to remember also is that a day or two in the direct sun is the only thing that cures a stinky sponge so you may want to just air it out.

Good luck!

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August 15, 20150 found this helpful

Look for a dead mouse in the insulation.

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August 1, 2016 Flag

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

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.geek … ell-freezer.html

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August 14, 2015 Flag

With the different ideas for ridding the freezer of rotten food odors none of them answer the question, should you have the freezer running or not. Both the pure vanilla idea as well as the charcoal sound like really good ideas. So should the freezer be running when trying theses ideas?

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August 15, 20150 found this helpful

An open box of baking soda.

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August 18, 20150 found this helpful

I don't think it will matter.

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May 28, 2015 Flag

I am currently a freshman in college and my roommate put ice cream in our freezer about five months ago. While we were on break, the ice cream somehow melted in our freezer. The melted ice cream has now frozen to the freezer and no one can open the freezer without it smelling terribly! I wanted to know if anyone has suggestions on the best and most painless way to get rid of the smell and clean the freezer.

Thanks so much in advance!!

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May 29, 20150 found this helpful

You're pretty much just going to have to knuckle down and do this.

Remove all the food you want to keep to coolers, if there is any other food. Unplug the freezer.

Put on a mask if you have to. Wait until it gets slushy on the inside. Use warm water and a plastic (NOT metal) putty knife to remove everything from the freezer.

Clean the freezer with warm water and a little dish soap. Be sure to wash the door gasket. Then deodorize by leaving a tray of fresh coffee grounds in the freezer for a few days.

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June 1, 20150 found this helpful

I have used warm water mixed with baking soda , then rinse & dry. 1 quart of water/1 tablespoon baking soda. I also clean the entire inside with this mixture, great for cleaning & removing odors.

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June 28, 2016 Flag

Can I salvage my fridge that has been stored for 6 months with a few rotting meats that were left in the freezer? 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.

Day one, I aired out the fridge and used vinegar and warm water to clean the entire fridge. Then I put multiple boxes of baking soda inside. Day two, I have continued to air out the fridge and used bleach and water to clean the entire fridge. I also added more baking soda, kitty liter, and coffee grinds. Day 3 the smell is still present but not as bad. What can I do now to get rid of the smell? Should I plug it in, will the cool air help? Should I go over with bleach again? I do not want to throw out the fridge unless it is dangerous to my family's health to use, I don't even know, is it? I've read some articles that suggested to use slices of oranges, newspaper, vanilla extract, etc. I don't mind all the work or products to salvage the fridge, but is it possible? Please help.

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April 6, 2016 Flag

While on vacation, a small standup freezer in the garage became unplugged while full of food. Needless to say the smell was so bad. I got all the food out and hosed it out what to do next?

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August 2, 2013 Flag

I cleaned the freezer with soda solution and rinsed it good. I then put crumpled newspaper and two cake pans of fresh, dry coffee grounds in the freezer. I need to know if I leave lid (chest type freezer) open or close it for two days? Thanks for any advice!

By Helen

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February 26, 20150 found this helpful

Closed and plugged in

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April 6, 2014 Flag

Our freezer was shut down in October, and the lid closed for 6 months. There are no words to describe the stench. Is there any way to get rid of the smell? I read other tips. Do you put the charcoal or vanilla in with the freezer on or off?

By Nancy T.

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October 30, 2013 Flag

A jar with turps fell off a shelf and seems to have seeped into the freezer. We are struggling despite several cleanngs to eradicate the smell and it seems to be seeping into new food. Any suggestions please?

By Sarah B

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October 19, 2013 Flag

Meat was left in the freezer with no hydro for 3 weeks. There are maggots everywhere and it smells. How do I get rid of the horrid smell?


Thank you.

By LIN

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August 30, 2013 Flag

The power was accidently turned off to the RV refrigerator. There was just canned pop in the frig, but there were frozen hamburgers in the freezer. Horrible, horrible!

The freezer surfaces have been cleaned, but the odor is coming from wherever the bloody mess drained. I'm thinking about pouring something onto the bottom of the freezer so it follows the same path as the mess did. Unfortunately, I don't know where it will go. I wouldn't want this mess to run out anywhere on the carpet.

I would appreciate any help. Thanks in advance.

By Susan

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