Cleaning Odors From a Travel Trailer Refrigerator?

August 2, 2005

RV kitchenI stupidly left a couple of hot dogs and some pop in my refrigerator and freezer in my travel trailer over the winter. When I went in to clean it for use the stench was beyond explanation! I cleaned the upper freezer half with bleach and other disinfectants. The smell is still there.


I left the doors open to air it out- smell still there. I put two dishes of baking soda in it, left door open for a day and there was no change. So I closed the door, turned on the freezer, and left the two dishes of baking soda in and the smell is still there.

Today I read on here to put coffee in the freezer to take away odors, haven't been back to check on it. I also just read on here to put a raw peeled potato in the freezer to absorb odors. I am going to try that one too.

I am desperate, we leave soon for a weekend away. Any other ideas out there?

Susan from Rochester, NY


By Lorie from Toledo (Guest Post)
August 2, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

White Vinagar! Wash out the fridge with straight white vinagar warmed up in the microwave for a minute. Don't rinse yet. Then leave a bowl of it in there overnight. The next morning rinse it down twice with plain water and dry it out completely.


then put a layer of charcoal brickets on the rack and floor of the fridge for a day. That should do the trick. I did this to clean up a 'new-to-me' fridge that used to store raw fish.

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By (Guest Post)
August 2, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

Did a search, and soemone suggested baking soda in water. Others suggested bleach water. found this at this website from Sept 2004:
When refrigerators get old or have been in storage for a long time they can take on a stale odor, making it a less than appealing place to store your food. Often what happens is mold grows and creates the bad odors. Use the following recipe to help remove the mold and the odor.


- 1 cup bleach
- 1 cup water
- activated charcoal


First remove all of the drawers, shelves, the condensation pan and trays from the fridge. Scrub the inside of the refrigerator and freezer compartment with the bleach solution using a sponge or rag.


Wear gloves and make sure you have proper ventilation. Also be careful about getting bleach stains on your clothing. Then clean the drawers, shelves and other components that you removed from the fridge using the same solution. Mix a second batch if you run out.

Once you are done, put the fridge back together and place a shallow pan with 8 ounces of activated charcoal in the refrigerater and freezer compartment. You can buy the charcoal at local pet store in the aquarium supply section. Close the doors and let the charcoal sit for a week. If it still smells, replace the charcoal with fresh and let it sit for another week.


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August 11, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

I use vanilla extract also. For all stinky things!
I had a spot behind my front door that my dog used
for a pee spot everytime we went somewhere without her.


I finally figured out where the smell was coming from. I had been wanting to tile that area for a doorsweep anyway. When we took out the piece of carpet and padding to make a door sweep, we found that it had gone all the way down into the concrete floor.
I used vinegar and baking soda several times to no avail.
I put the vanilla extract there and let it sit overnight and did it again. No more smell!
The guy that put in the doorsweep for us was a carpet installer and he said I had taught him something.
He had run into that problem before many times and had never found anything that worked that fast or that took the smell totally out. I did dilute the last application with water so it wouldn't be sticky. My mother told me about it because after moving with the military one of the times they moved, she had left the fridge for my dad to clean out.

Which he forgot to do. The fridge was in storage for 3 months so you can imagine the smell. She used the vanilla extract and wiped it all down and put some in bowls in both the fridge and freezer. The next day ...... no smell.
Good Luck,

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By Rosa (Guest Post)
August 18, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

Use Vanilla ! I know this works for a fact. We went crabbing one time and brought the crabs home, after par boiling them first, stored them in the camper fridge ! What an rotten smell when we got home ! I poured vanilla on cotton balls, put the in the fridge, and on the counter tops, also whiped inside of freezer with vanilla . change cotton balls as needed . Took about 3 days for the smell to go. Try it , it really works . rosa

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More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

June 3, 2016

Our new trailer had to have work done and we left sausage in the freezer. Low and behold 2 months later the smell is awful. How do I get it out? Thanks.


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 107 Posts
February 28, 20170 found this helpful

Enzymatic cleaners are really the only thing that will get rid of that smell. These cleaners use enzymes to break up the organic matter that causes the smell. "They work quickly by bio-degrading the stain, grease, oil, dirt, grime, vomit, urine, blood, coffee or food into its basic carbon, hydrogen or oxygen element, eliminating the problem. "


You can buy one here

or, if you have brown sugar, citrus peels and a lot of time on your hands, you can make your own:

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
March 1, 20170 found this helpful

Nok-Out is a great cleaner that gets rid of all smells.

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July 16, 20180 found this helpful

Check the seal on your door. I had a similar problem and after several times cleaning I found rotten water/blood pooled up in the door seal. I removed the door and cleaned the seal with bleach and it solved the problem.

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