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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
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:
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:
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.
This is a guide about cleaning rotten meat odors from a refrigerator. A power outage or a fridge that stops working can result in spoiled food.
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.
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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?
Take the fridge out and look underneath it, there may be a dead mouse in the motor. They love the warmth of stoves & fridges. Same goes for beds too!
After you find the source of the odor, get some oranges, slice them up, and put them in the fridge. Oranges will eliminate the odor of almost anything. I just used some today, in fact. Always have oranges on hand, because you never know when you'll burn something while cooking, etc., and need a really good air freshener.
This happened to me too. I absolutely couldn't find the source of the smell. But I noticed the smell began when my boyfriend went to visit his sister for a couple weeks. Apparently, I open the fridge a lot less than he does, and because the fridge door wasn't constantly being opened, whatever slight food odors there were just stayed in the fridge. When he returned home, the odors went away because he was back to the bad habit of standing at the fridge with the door open (and giving the fridge a chance to exchange fresh air).
After you clean out the fridge, fill a cup with baking soda and leave it in the fridge. the smell will go away. you can leave the cup there permanently, just ensure it doesn't touch any other food items. best to put it on the bottom most shelf at the back so it wont spill on anything else. i have been doing this for over a year now, and it works.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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 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?
According to Mythbusters, you can't remove the smell. They tried everything, and nothing completely worked. I'd recommend bleach, leaving the doors open on everything, and industrial fans in the doorways facing out to help remove the smell. Good luck.
I had a problem when my cleaner unpluged my freezer and we didn't notice it for serveral days. I used baking soda in a plate in it for a few days and then put used dried coffee grounds in a plate and left it for a few days in the freezer. I had to do that a few times. I am now using my freezer without any smells. It took time and a lot of work but It was worth it, I didn't have to buy a new freezer. Hope this helps.
Sorry to say there are remedies that people use but there is nothing that will take the odor completely out. It gets into the crevices and rubber fittings and gaskets. Best thing to do is file insurance if you have it and start new.
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.
How do I eliminate a smelly odor in my frig?
A small plate with some charcoal in it will absorb the foul odors. A piece of scrunched up newspaper will work also.
I put a bowl of sauerkraut in my fridge 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
Put in a bowl of vinegar (sounds like it would hurt more, but it helps) and an open container of baking soda. Change the vinegar the next day. After a day or two it should take out the smell. They both absorb odors.
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.
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.
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
I've read extensively on getting rid of fridge odors and we are at a loss of what to do. Our old fridge leaked inside and we're pretty sure that caused a lot of mildew to build up. Because the fridge leaked we wanted to get rid of it. We just got a newish fridge (parents handed it down in great condition, only a few years old). We tossed the old fridge and input the new fridge. All of our food transferred over. 2 weeks into the new fridge and the same exact smell is back. It wasn't there at first when we got the new fridge. It took two weeks to show up. We've tossed everything that could even resemble old food including condiments, beverages, everything. We've gotten rid of labels off food items, tried baking soda, no cardboard, no more plastic containers. The smell still persists! Any solutions outside of the normal suggestions for handling fridge odors? We're really looking for the culprit. It's not the dripping, we've checked and this smell seems to have transferred from our old fridge to our new fridge. No moldy food at all. In fact we just re-stocked most everything! Any ideas or suggestions would help. Thanks.
My 8 yr old son and I have been caught up in the rioting in London. After 2.5 weeks we have been able to come home. The power was out for a long time and then came back on. The food in my freezer had defrosted, gone moldy, then refrozen when the power went back on.
I have gotten rid of the food, cleaned with Fairy liquid, then Dettol. The smell seemed to go. I put the freezer back on, but when I opened the door the smell has come back. Any suggestions for getting rid of this odour? The freezer is built in under the counter so I can't move it and can't afford to replace it.
I have a persistent odour in my fridge. I have cleaned it top to bottom and it still seems to be there. Can I put any cleaning products down the drain inside the fridge, as it looks "gunky"?
By Pauline from Dunfermline, Fife
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
My smelly fridge, has been wiped with soda powder, but still smells. I need help coming up with something more to do.
Baking soda doesn't work very well for odors, despite the hype. My answer for everything: oranges! I've salvaged a fridge that was nearly ruined, by cutting up oranges and leaving them inside it until the odors were gone. Oranges will get rid of just about anything, from burnt food smells in a kitchen, to chemical odors. (10/22/2010)
I'm looking for some magical remedy to get rid of a horrendous smell that permeated our "new" refrigerator while it was in the garage, courtesy of the previous homeowners. It sort of smells like gasoline, but sort of not; I don't know how to label this smell.
I've tried vinegar, baking soda, the blue stuff in the container (odor sponge or some such), even a crystal that is supposed to remove "your worst smells". Well, nothing's doing it, and every time the fridge or freezer is opened, well, there it is again.
Any suggestions? Thanks!
Be sure the drip pan is clean, then stuff the fridge with crumpled newspapers. The paper should absorb most of the offending odor. My bil is an appliance guy and this is his fav remedy for fridge odors. Depending on how persistent the odor is, you may have to replace the paper several times over a few days. (05/30/2005)
Try a apple cut in half. My granddaughter gave me this tip and it worked for me.
Try a bag of charcoal briquettes. They absorb most odors. Just put the briquettes in loose. Hope this helps. (05/30/2005)
Try cat litter. We once had a freezer full of meat that went bad when the power went out during a hurricane. I tried vinegar, Lysol, and Clorox, but nothing worked except the cat litter. I bought the cheapest kind and put several saucers full on the different shelves. After a few days of keeping the freezer closed the only odor that was left was the cat litter. We wiped down the whole interior, then left the door open for another day or so. It took several days, but the odor of rotten meat (Uck!) was gone. We used the freezer for about ten more years. Good luck! (05/30/2005)
I use fresh coffee grounds for absorbing odors from many things from clothing stored which had gotten damp and mildewed, to a box trailer that was damp and the stuff in it had mildewed, it was a very strong odor. I made cloth bags and put fresh coffee grounds and hung them, but you could put them in an open container, maybe 1/2 cup to start. (05/30/2005)
By Anna from ME
Have you tried just opening the doors and letting it run for awhile. This will bring fresh air into it to be circulated. I had a terrible smell in my fridge from broccoli left in it for too long. I finally took everything out and wiped everything down, but I let the fridge run while I was cleaning it. I think the fresh air circulating in it was the key. I didn't even have to clean out the freezer. (05/31/2005)
By Shirley M (IA)
Use a solution of warm water and borax, it will freshen it up and make it super sparkly! (05/31/2005)
If you have an odor in your fridge, put a raw, peeled potato inside to absorb the bad smell. Once it does, just toss out the potato.
By Terri (06/17/2005)
Try Fridge Odor Absorber - from IBAUSALLC.com
Or call 805 565 2233 (10/19/2006)
There is a product called FRIDGE IT odor absorber made just for this. It is a little purple cube with an activated carbon filter inside. I've tried lots of other products including baking soda and other products, but nothing works as well as this little purple cube. You can find it in kitchen gadget sections of stores like Walmart. Definitely worth trying. (02/07/2007)
I saw some others recommend a product called Fridge it. I too love this product. Works fantasticly because of the activated carbon filter. I've been using it for years in fridge and other places like under sinks and trash. Even have friends that use it on their diaper pail and other things. I usually just buy my supply of these on line at www.innofresh.com. The company is called innofresh products. (10/21/2008)
We had a smell in our refrigerator so awful, that when the door opened, people all the way in the bedroom would be nauseated by the smell. I tried many of the different suggestions, including taking every shelf/part out and disinfecting the entire refrigerator. (Also tried the onions, potatoes, newspapers, cat litter w/ carbon, charcoal briskets). All those helped. So for small odor problems, I think anyone of those would be fine.
But the solution that helped me and was so much cheaper and easier to use, was "Fresh Air Activated Carbon Refills (8 pack)". It appears to be a replacement for some sort of portable air filter. (99 cents at a thrift store).
I only put two of the little pads in my refrigerator and within hours, the smell had dissipated to tolerable. By the next day, we thought maybe we had imagined the awful experience. It felt like a miracle!
The activated carbon in the filters is what does the trick, so I think any replacement filter that has the stuff will work.
Side note: While you're working on the smell, or shopping for something that has activated carbon in it, these two suggestions helped the most:
By Lady Dozen
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
Spray it out with Lysol wait 15 minute and wipe it out. That's what I do. Good luck. (06/14/2010)
Try leaving an open container of baking soda in there. Baking soda is a great odor absorber. (06/14/2010)
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)
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)
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)
How do you remove odor from a refrigerator? The power went off while we were away and the contents of the refrigerator spoiled.
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.
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.