Clear out everything, throw away any left overs, wash any containers that hold odor (mainly plastic), all fruit, opened packages will and have absorbed the odor you want to get rid of. I feel that if it isn't in a glass container, it likely to have absorbed the odor.
After fridge is cleared you clean, start by wiping anything that may have dripped, spilled or spattered under drawers, in egg slots, crisper; if these things can be pulled out you should do that. Leaving you with as free area as possible to work in. The racks, drawers, and crisper needs to be cleaned also. Doing them separate works much faster, and gets everything cleaned. They can soak if you have room, if not take a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar and wipe these things down. Let them remain wet (this eats thru bad odors) and set aside.
Do same solution on inside of the unit, and let stand for several minutes. Go back and completely wipe entire appliance down. Same with everything you pulled out; wipe it, rinse and dry.
Next you want to take baking soda if extremely bad (rotten things or has set closed not being used). Use a entire box, if not a 1/2 box, per bucket of water is fine. Wipe as before this neutralizes the smell of the vinegar as well as absorbs any odors left.
By now, you should be noticing a huge difference in the smell of refrigerator. Put it back together, wipe entire unit down once its back in place, shelves, etc. As well as baking soda (depending on what's made the smell), I like putting coal in the back. You will be surprised how effective this is. Make sure you replace both from time to time.
When I discovered this, it was a serious problem. I had been at the hospital, with fish rotting for several days. If yours is that bad, there is one last secret I used; make a box of unflavored gelatin. Make according to instructions, put in middle of refrigerator opened, yes opened. It will NOT be eaten but absorb any lingering odor. You can do this from time to time for regular cleaning. The gelatin picks up any little odor in the closed space as it's setting.
One last freebie; you can take gelatin afterwards (do NOT eat) and put in bucket, using warm water it will melt. Use it to give your outside plants, trees or garden a boost of energy. It's great for plant food. Why waste it the plants won't mind at all it smells.
This should do it. If it got rid of a week's worth of "fishy" yuck from mine, it will work on anything! Get all of the things together. The rags you first use should be ones you can just throw out. Do it in this order, and it really will be spic an span leaving you feeling great. Being able to keep the fridge will make losing the food a little easier to swallow..
Source:The box of baking soda is well known. Coal was from my grand mother taught me, and after using gelatin when my kids were young, it made sense. My son was hospitalized, and I couldn't afford a new refrigerator so this worked. Now it's something I do, so they never are any odors, after company or just spring cleaning!
By Luana M. from San Diego, CA
By Debbie S. from McAdams, MS
I found a very moldy grapefruit in the drawer of the fridge. I noticed an odd odor and it was affecting the taste of food (butter, bread, tea, etc.). I also smell it in the freezer (side by side). Do I need to throw out all the food and clean to remove the odor/taste?
By Stacey from Douglasville, GA
I wouldn't throw away the food, but be sure to put a box of baking soda in your refrigerator to absorb the foul odor. You might need a box on each side if the smell is really bad. Try to cut the box of soda so there is a large surface area. Sometimes its a good idea to just put it in an old oleo container.
You are right to be concerned because the odor indicates there is mold growing elsewhere. You might need to clean the refrigerator. But I'd probably not throw away the food.
Carol in PA
How do I eliminate a smelly odor in my frig?
You can use a box of baking soda in the refrigerator. Just open the top of the box & place it on a shelf or on a door shelf.
A small plate with some charcoal in it will absorb the foul odors. A piece of scrunched up newspaper will work also.
I just came home from vacation to find the refrigerator breaker had tripped. Two refrigerators are completely thawed. How do I get rid of the odor in them?
By Marie from Fort Worth, TX
Make a semi thick paste of baking soda and vinegar. Mix it in a large bowl, as it will foam. Make it just thick enough that it will cling to a dish cloth. Ring it out just enough that it doesn't drip a lot. Wipe down the entire refrigerator including the racks and drawers. Sprinkle more baking soda on all flat surfaces. Close the door and let set over night if possible. Rinse and dry. I hope this works for you. You may have to repeat the process.
I got this from this site. Crumple up lots of newspaper and stuff your refrigerator completely. Change it every day until the smell goes away. This worked for me when I had fish juice spillover. It didn't take long to work, even though I didn't have black and white newspaper to work with. I used the colored advertising newspaper and it worked for me. I can't remember if I used it in my freezer too, though. Sorry.
I've heard that crumpled up newspaper and charcoal briquets put in the refrigerator absorb odors. Arm & Hammer baking soda works too. I had to clean a refrigerator in a rental recently that had a lot of spoiled food left in it (the electricity had been disconnected). I used bleach to wipe down the inside, and then left the doors open for a few days to help remove the odor. I don't know what to do with the linoleum floor, though. Perhaps vinegar will help. Good luck!
First you should wash the whole inside down with a strong baking soda and water solution. I would make sure to rinse the cloth or sponge separately. Then put a bowl of white vinegar in your freezer and fridge. Leave at least overnight. This works well on kitchen odors, pet odors, and closed up smells. We had this problem this past year after several hurricanes in Florida. Hope this helps.
Recently my husband and I returned home after a few weeks away. The thermostat in our refrigerator had blown some time while we were away. The freezer had defrosted all over the kitchen floor and the food had subsequently gone rotten. It was a lovely welcome home surprise in the middle of summer (we live in Australia).
Despite many days of scrubbing and disinfecting and wiping it with vanilla, much of the smell remains in the freezer. I cleaned all the seals and trays, etc. Any ideas on how to remove the smell from the freezer? Many thanks for any suggestions.
It took about two weeks to get rid of the smells, but what I did was place 2 boxes of baking soda in the freezer and 4 boxes in the fridge. I replaced them every 2-3 days until the smells were gone. Of course I couldn't use it all that time, but the odors did eventually go away. Good luck.
By Rio Lady
I had 3 lbs of rotten hamburger in a dorm fridge, where they turned the electricity off on Christmas break. Very nasty, but bleach did the trick. Like I said, it works perfectly, but very nasty stuff. Wear old clothes, do in a well ventilated place along with taking the appropriate precautions. (07/28/2007)
You need to clean it out thoroughly because bacteria grows in the cold. I suggest you pop the back of the freezer open and clean it. After that keep dumping bleach throughout the freezer and the fridge. Then let it dry or even wipe it down with a cloth. It should work. Good luck.
By Peggy in Plymouth
I was on a 2 week vacation when my side by side refrigerator/freezer went out. When I returned I cleaned it out, but it still smells and the linoleum floor and subfloor smell of rotten blood. Help.
By nursy from Bunker Hill, IL
How do you remove odor from a refrigerator? The power went off while we were away and the contents of the refrigerator spoiled. We cannot get the odor out. We have tried everything. Any suggestions?
By S.L. from GA
Best of luck. (01/20/2010)
I did a stupid thing and turned the fridge off and the fish thawed. Yikes, the smell is awful. What do I do now? Do I need to buy a new fridge? The stench is putrid.
By Deanna from Costa Rica
It didn't take long to work even though I didn't have black and white newspaper to work with. I used the colored advertising newspaper and it worked for me. I can't remember if I used it in my freezer too, though. sorry. Lots of luck. You'll find the answer on this site for sure! (06/15/2010)