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Cleaning Rotten Meat Odors from a Refrigerator

Category Appliances
A power outage or a fridge that stops working can result in spoiled food. This is a page about cleaning rotten meat odors from a refrigerator.


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By 0 found this helpful
May 9, 2010

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


May 9, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Had same problem after Hurricane Frances when we came back to town. Tried everything mentioned on feedback. Finally got another one. However, my brother suggested opening it up and putting it outside in the sunshine for several days, said it worked for him. I'll try this if ever have same problem again.

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May 10, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I think there must have been some seepage of the juices as the meat rotted and may have seeped into spots you can clean with taking it apart. You may want to go to the hardware store and buy activated hardware pellets and put them in an open container in the fridge for a day or so and see if they work.


The charcoal supposedly absorbs odors. It has worked for me in the past in other smelly situations, just not sure if the meat leaked and got on the inside components of the fridge if this will help, but it is cheap to try.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 25, 20100 found this helpful

Has anyone ever dealt with flies and fly larvae in every crevasse of a fridge? We rented a place and they dropped the rent with the understanding we would clean the place up.

The last tenants left food in the fridge with a ton of meat and the electricity was turned off. So there was flies and larvae everywhere. We took to whole thing apart and cleaned it with bleach. It still smells. Any other ideas to clean it? And should we be concerned with larvae in any other areas?


By Rachel from Royal Palm Beach, FL


Rotten Meat Smell in the Refrigerator

In this case, I'd inform the landlord of your attempt to thoroughly clean/disinfect the refrigerator with no pleasing results. Perhaps they will allow you to get a new or nearly new refrigerator and take it off the rent or they will get one to replace the smelly one. (10/15/2009)

By Myrna

Rotten Meat Smell in the Refrigerator

Put a 20# bag of charcoal in the bottom of the cleaned fridge. Tear open and leave in there about a week. You cannot use the fridge while doing this. (10/18/2009)

By Peg Ward

Rotten Meat Smell in the Refrigerator

I had the same problem when one of my renters moved out. You could try putting several boxes of opened baking soda in it. You could also try wiping down the entire refrigerator with vinegar, but I would suggest you leave it unplugged and open for a day or two if you do that. Charcoal should work also, but with that you would need to keep the refrigerator closed. Good luck. (10/18/2009)


By kitkatk100

Rotten Meat Smell in the Refrigerator

I would still advise you to get a new one. Those maggots lay eggs everywhere and will be inside the insulation, extremely unhealthy. (10/18/2009)

By Dena Roberts

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October 14, 20090 found this helpful

We came home from vacation to a freezer full of spoiled chicken and meat. The stench continues throughout the house a week later. We have scrubbed the freezer with bleach and will try the baking soda now. Any more suggestions?

Debbie from Flanders, NJ


Rotten Meat Smell From Freezer

We had a freezer with rotted meat also, we washed it good with bleach water. Then I put a bag
of charcoal in it and cut the bag open and shut the
door. Don't remember how long it took, but it got all the smell out.

Joyce (09/26/2006)


By Joyce

Rotten Meat Smell in the Refrigerator

I put coffee and charcoal in fridge for a week the smell is still there. Is there something else I can do?

Editor's Note: Check the pan underneath the refrigerator. Take all the racks and drawers out. Any place that water can collect, under the vegetable drawers, in the tubes that help with the defrosting, etc. make sure they are clean by washing down good with baking soda. There may be some place that is keeping the smell in there. (04/23/2007)

By Debbie

Rotten Meat Smell in the Refrigerator

My husband repairs refrigerators and sees this all the time. He uses one of 3 things.

Sometimes, he comes across one that is totally hopeless. If those three things don't work you probably will either live with smell or buy a new one. (08/27/2007)


By DebraJ.

Rotten Meat Smell in the Refrigerator

Clean the fridge with vanilla extract and water mixed together. That will get rid of the smell. (02/28/2008)

By Emma

Rotten Meat Smell in the Refrigerator

Apple cider vinegar works well. (03/09/2008)

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September 25, 20060 found this helpful

How do I get the smell of rotten meat and fish out of the air. The fridge died while I was out of town.

Natalie from Ruston, LA


Refrigerator Broke Down - Rotten Meat and Fish Smell

I would wash it with a water and bleach solution and then after it dries put some fresh ground coffee in a bowl on several of the shelves to absorb the odor.
Close the door completely and check til you get results! I used this method with an old refrigerator and after about a week the smell was gone. (05/23/2006)

By Brenree

Refrigerator Broke Down - Rotten Meat and Fish Smell

I had that problem once and the only thing that helped was to get some charcoal from a pet store that's used for an aquarium and put that in dishes in the fridge and freezer. It really works great. (05/23/2006)

By Sandy Zahn

Refrigerator Broke Down - Rotten Meat and Fish Smell

I went through Katrina in MS. I was able to save my fridge so far. A refridgerator man told me to never use bleach, but to always use orange juice (like you drink mixed with water) to clean your fridge and then I put charcoal and coffee in small bowls, it worked great. (05/23/2006)


Refrigerator Broke Down - Rotten Meat and Fish Smell

Burn matches or use other sulfur to remove odor from the air. (05/23/2006)

By brenda thompson

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May 9, 20100 found this helpful

I recently leased a house that included the refrigerator. The fridge has a very bad odor of spoiled meat and I have tried all the cleaners, baking soda, etc.,

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