Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

There's nothing worse than opening your refrigerator and smelling spoiled food. Even after the food is removed sometimes the smell still remains. This is a guide about removing spoiled food odors from your refrigerator.

Ad
Photo of a woman holding her nose in front of her refrigerator.
Filter: All Articles Sort: Relevance

Getting rid of bad odors from the fridge is no joke. Luckily I know of the complete way to do it. I have tried cleaners, odor control products, and, like everyone, have opened a box of Arm and Hammer. Some work a little, while some not at all. After many quests at attempting to solve this problem I finally can assuredly say I've "got it down".

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 the 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 through bad odors) and set aside.

Do the 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.

.

By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Ad

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

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Best Answer

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.

Ad
ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Best Answer

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!

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Best Answer

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.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Best Answer

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.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

How do I eliminate a smelly odor in my frig?

By Rosie

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Best Answer

A small plate with some charcoal in it will absorb the foul odors. A piece of scrunched up newspaper will work also.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Best Answer

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.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

I run a commercial kitchen that caters to people in large quantities. Recently I had stopped visiting the kitchen for around 2-3 weeks, since the kitchen is not operational currently. At that time I had approx. 20kgs of beef in 1 chest freezer (100Ltrs) and another 20Kgs of fish in another chest freezer (100Ltrs).

Someone had accidentally switched the main power off so electricity was cut off to the freezers during these 2 weeks. I returned to my kitchen a few days back to find this horrible stench that literally smelled like death. At one time I almost puked. The meat and fish was so badly decomposed that 90% of it had turned into purple water. It was a huge task just getting rid of the decomposed liquid and remaining meat. Now most of the smell has gone from my kitchen after thoroughly wiping the fridges and floor with bleach one time. I returned after 2 days to check up on the kitchen, but there was still a 10-20% smell. How do I get rid of it?

By Manav

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Put a number of charcoal briquettes in an open container in the freezer and close the door. The number of briquettes will depend on the size of the freezer. Leave for several days and then check for any lingering smell. If there is still a smell, leave and check again in several more days. Once the smell is gone and you're ready to either store or use the freezer, change the used briquettes for unused ones and close the door. The briquettes absorb order just the same as a charcoal filter would.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

There is an awful smell coming from my refrigerator! I've cleaned the food out; scrubbed it out with bleach and even put some coffee grounds inside the frig to absorb the odor. Nothing works! I don't think the model has a drip pan as I don't see it under the frig. Anyone have any ideas as to what else I can do?

By Melissa

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

My husband is a retired appliance repair man and, please don't freak, but you probably have a dead mouse caught around the fan blade or defrost motor. Take the front and or back panel off and look around the inside of motor with a flash light. This is common even in the most expensive of homes! Mice just want to be warm, too.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

How can I get rid of the odours under the fridge? The odours resulted from various foods that went bad following a power failure to the kitchen and we were not at home for more than two weeks. The foods consisted of some frozen processed fish like fish fingers, vegetarian foods, milk, various jams, and French polony sausage.

By Dingani M

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Do you mean rotten food odor from the floor under the fridge? If so, need to know what type of flooring, etc.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

We have a dorm size refrigerator in a place we moved into. The landlord said the people left meat in it and it rotted. I've tried bleach, air freshener, coffee grounds, Comet, baking soda, and cat litter. But the smell isn't even dying down, it is still strong. Any more suggestions?

By Michele from Grannis, AR

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Have you checked the drip pan underneath?

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

We just acquired a camper that had been abandoned for the last two years. My husband opened the fridge/freezer and found that there was meat that had been left in there. The smell was horrific. We have tried bleach, Pinesol, and soap and water. Nothing seems to help at all. I don't know where else to turn nor what else to try please can you help?

By Yvette H.

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Try using plain old charcoal. The kind you use to grill with. Do not get the kind that has a starting fluid in it. Place several bricks in a bowl or any container. Charcoal is an odor remover. Also along with the charcoal it wouldnt hurt to use some crumpled up newspaper just for an added boost. This method works wonders. Hope this helps.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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.

Good luck,

Carol in PA

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

I put a bowl of sauerkraut in my frig and didn't put a tight lid on it. Now my refrigerator and freezer smell like sauerkraut. What can I do to get rid of this smell? It's a side by side refrigerator/freezer. Thank-you.

By sherrylw from Purvis, MS

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Yes. I agree. The vinegar and baking soda should work. Try wiping over with Vanilla essence/extract afterwards. Leaves the fridge smelling lovely.

Good luck Shamar

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers...

So you have cleaned your refrigerator and removed any spoiled food and there is still an odor. Here are some solutions to removing persistent odors:

  • If possible, unplug your refrigerator and leave the doors open. Letting fresh air circulate through your refrigerator can help replace stagnant air.

  • Fill multiple containers with baking soda and place them on the shelves, in the drawers, and in the compartments. Baking soda is a great deodorizer.

  • Empty your refrigerator of food and place a few dishes filled with activated charcoal inside. Activated charcoal can usually be found at your local pet store. Leave the charcoal in your refrigerator for a few days.

  • Another natural odor absorber are coffee grounds. A few container of coffee grounds placed throughout your refrigerator may remove unwanted odors.

    CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

One of the best ways to deal with odors in your refrigerator is to prevent them from happening. Here are a few tips to keep your refrigerator smelling fresh:

  • Keep an open box of baking soda inside and replace it every 3 months.

  • Clean up any spills immediately.

  • Always store food in a covered container and dispose of food as soon as you suspect that it's bad.

  • Make sure that your refrigerator is kept at the proper temperature. It is important to keep the temperature low enough to slow bacteria growth.

  • Periodically empty your refrigerator of all food, dispose of any spoiled food, and thoroughly scrub down the interior and exterior.

    CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

There are many reasons that your refrigerator may smell. It is important to locate the source so that you can get rid of the odor. Here are some tips for investigating the cause of your refrigerator odor:

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Free your refrigerator from odors by placing a folded section of your newspaper on a shelf for five minutes. The newspaper absorbs all the odors and doesn't cost anything.

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

I always keep a fresh box of opened baking soda in my refrigerator. I try to remember to change it out every two months. If I get a sudden odor from a bag of cut-up onion or something like that, I put a slice of bread on each shelf in the refrigerator.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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


Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

Spray it out with Lysol wait 15 minute and wipe it out. That's what I do. Good luck. (06/14/2010)

By teensout01

Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

Try leaving an open container of baking soda in there. Baking soda is a great odor absorber. (06/14/2010)

By mollyring

Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

When Hurricane Ike knocked our power off for several days I had some food go bad. I tried all the normal methods of cleaning my fridge to no avail. In desperation I sprayed it with Febreze, both fridge and freezer. It worked on the foul odor and the fragrance of Febreze dissipated in a few days. (06/15/2010)

By MartyD

Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

I got this from this site.

Crumple up lots of newspaper and stuff your refrigerator completely. Change it every day till 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.

Lots of luck. You'll find the answer on this site for sure! (06/15/2010)

By metroplex

Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

Try putting some coffee grounds in it. When my husband was in the Marine Corps and we moved every 2-3 years, we were told to put fresh coffee grounds in it until we got to wherever we were going. We did that and there was no odor at all, except for coffee, of course. Another thing to try is newspaper. Only the pages with the black ink. Newspaper absorbs odors, too. (06/16/2010)

By lindylou28546

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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


Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

My mother dealt with this problem after Katrina. She thoroughly washed her frig with soda and left the door open for a few days, 2 I think and used a fan in front to it to blow it out good. When she plugged it back in she put some soda on each shelf in a small container. This worked for her. (01/18/2010)

By Glenn'sMom

Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

First of all a lot of patience. Second you have to brush, yes brush with a tooth paste, and let it work for a while till the odors are gone it can take few days. Good luck. (01/19/2010)

By Danush

Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

I don't know if this would work for odors due to a fridge going out but you could try. Dip cotton balls in cinnamon water and/or vanilla extract and place throughout the fridge. You could also make a spray w/ water, cinnamon and/or vanilla and spray this inside. Boiling water and cinnamon gets rid of odors in the house and microwave, also. It works wonders! (01/20/2010)

By tiwa

Removing Spoiled Food Odors from Refrigerator

Make a tray with some aluminum foil and fill with charcoal, the type you buy for barbecue. Leave in the smelly fridge overnight. If the smell hasn't disappeared leave in for longer. Refresh the coals after 48 hrs.
Once the smells have disappeared, cut half a lemon and scoop out the inside (freeze in cube trays for drinks?) and then fill the lemon with salt and then place on a saucer at the back of your fridge.
This will keep it smelling sweet and odour-free.

Best of luck. (01/20/2010)

By Monique63

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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


Refrigerator Stopped Working - Removing Odors From Spoiled Food

As far as the fridge goes, I had that happen to me at the trailer one summer. I cleaned the fridge well with Javex and water, then left the door open to air it out for a day or 2. The sub floor? Wow. Rip the linoleum up and paint the wood under it with oil paint, but not before cleaning the wood and letting it dry. (08/05/2009)

By Lorraina

Refrigerator Stopped Working - Removing Odors From Spoiled Food

I've heard that crumpled up newspaper and charcoal briquettes put in the refrigerator absorb odors. Arm and 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. (08/06/2009)

By kitkatk100

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Load More
Categories
Home and Garden Cleaning OdorsAugust 10, 2011
More to Explore
ThriftyFun on Facebook
ThriftyFun on Pinterest
Enter a Contest
Free Newsletters
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Related Guides
Man working out on an elliptical at the gym.
Fixing a Squeaky Elliptical
cigarette smell computer
Removing Cigarette Smoke Odors from a Computer
Saving Money on a Refrigerator, A new side by side refrigerator and freezer in stainless steel.
Saving Money on a Refrigerator
View of the water line.
Flushing a Refrigerator Water Line
© 1997-2016 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Published by . Page generated on April 27, 2016 at 5:04:23 PM on 10.0.2.161 in 511 msecs. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of ThriftyFun's Disclaimer and Privacy Policy. If you have any problems or suggestions feel free to Contact Us.
 
To Top
Loading Something Awesome!