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
7 found this helpful

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.

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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

March 11, 20140 found this helpful

My freezer smells as you describe. Sounds like great idea. Question is: What is "pure vanilla"? Is that vanilla extract?

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Anonymous Flag
January 16, 20160 found this helpful

Hello Bayliner,

I have just done close to the same thing this past week and it has only been one week so can only begin to imagine how yours was after a month! I haven't yet given it alot of time but have tried, lemon, disinfectant, vanilla essence but not pure vanilla, coffee grinds, anything absorbent such as flour and have been starting to think I have permanently ruined the fridge as the smell seems to be so well worn into the plastics and this, like yours , is a smell with legs and then some.

Mine was a combination of different types of fish, chicken sausages and chops and that was just the freezer! The fridge part had an array of things that have also contributed and given some nice warm days in Sydney in the last week, the smell was nice and ripe on arrival home.

Thanks for your post, I will source some real vanilla as your post has given me a little bit of hope that the fridge is going to ever be ok again :)

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October 27, 20160 found this helpful

Should the freezer be on or off?

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November 16, 20160 found this helpful

February 22, 2008 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

February 22, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

This may seem a bit extreme, but I had to mention it. Try contacting the FDA (I believe they have a website listing contact information), to see if they have any safety tips for your situation. I know that the public can contact the FDA to learn food safety tips. I say this because not only is there rotten raw meat in the freezer, but also water in which bacteria can multiply. I remember when there was a canned chili food poisoning issue in my area people were told to not open the cans, but to place them in a plastic bag and seal it, then another plastic bag and seal it, then another, just to dispose of it. If food poisoning in canned food can be seen as that dangerous, all the food poisoning bacteria floating in that freezer has to be volatile. Whatever you decide, please be careful!!!

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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
Best Answer

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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October 31, 2005 Flag
0 found this helpful

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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October 31, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

I had the same thing happen to me except it was deer meat, I put jar covers with fresh coffee grounds (right from the can) in my freezer and let sit for about a week, the smell has never returned.

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November 10, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

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
Best Answer

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, 20081 found this helpful
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May 6, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

May 7, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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
Best Answer

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
Best Answer

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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November 5, 20160 found this helpful

June 19, 2006 Flag
1 found this helpful

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.

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June 20, 2016 Flag
0 found this helpful

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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August 1, 2016 Flag
0 found this helpful

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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August 10, 2015 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

August 11, 20150 found this helpful

It doesn't hurt to try tossing in a few charcoal briquettes and closing it up. Check it the next day, if the smell has indeed lessened take those briquettes and toss them in a sealed baggie in the outdoor trash and use a few new ones for the next 24 hours. Some people report having good luck with wadding up several sheets of newspaper and putting them inside as well. With either option the freezer does not need to be turned on.

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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 16, 20150 found this helpful
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