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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.

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August 17, 2011 Flag
15 found this helpful

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".

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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.

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By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

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June 13, 2016 Flag
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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.

Woman holding nose while standing in front of open refrigerator door

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November 9, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

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November 12, 20100 found this helpful
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.

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June 23, 2012 Flag
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How do I eliminate a smelly odor in my frig?

By Rosie

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June 25, 20121 found this helpful
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.

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August 1, 2013 Flag
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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

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August 5, 20131 found this helpful

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.

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January 7, 2011 Flag
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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?

By Melissa

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January 11, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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February 21, 2015 Flag
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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

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February 22, 20150 found this helpful

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

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May 21, 2013 Flag
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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.

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May 27, 20131 found this helpful

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.

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December 16, 2012 Flag
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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

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December 26, 20120 found this helpful

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

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September 26, 2009 Flag
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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

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April 19, 20110 found this helpful

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

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May 8, 2011 Flag
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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

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Anonymous Flag
May 10, 20110 found this helpful

Use a bottle brush (like the ones available for baby bottles) to clean the drain area and pull the drain pan out from underneath the fridge and wash it. To remove the pan from underneath the fridge just pull the grate on the bottom of the front of the refrigerator off and slide the pan out.

Personally I wouldn't use any kind of chemicals to clean any refrigerator parts; only vinegar. Also, it wouldn't hurt to keep an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator in the future to help absorb odors. I keep mine in a back corner on the shelf above the vegetable crisper.

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September 14, 2010 Flag
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How do you remove odors from a refrigerator?

By Roger

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September 16, 20100 found this helpful

I had a fish smell in my fridge and used crumpled up newspapers all through it. I changed it a few times until it went away. But I did wash my fridge first. Also try baking soda, I just devote one box for my freezer and one for the fridge. I just keep changing the box out for a fresh one when I clean the fridge. Or activated charcoal, which I've never bought but have heard that it's the kind of charcoal used for fish tank filters. I got the newspaper hint from this site.

Good luck!

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August 10, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

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:

August 10, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

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:

August 10, 2011 Flag
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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:

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March 2, 2004 Flag
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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.

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August 16, 2011 Flag

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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January 7, 2011 Flag
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My smelly fridge, has been wiped with soda powder, but still smells. I need help coming up with something more to do.

By Anne

Answers:

Refrigerator Odors

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)

By WildIrish

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