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Removing Odors from a Freezer

Many years ago, my son unplugged my well stocked freezer to plug in his stereo. Unfortunately, he did not plug the freezer back in when he finished listening to his CD. I didn't realize the freezer was unplugged for close to a month. You have no idea how sickening the smell and sight was when I opened that freezer door that morning. It was absolutely horrible! I had just bought a hind quarter of beef and had frozen tomatoes and other vegetables for the winter. Everything was gone.


It wasn't easy, but somehow I was able to clean out and dispose of everything. Cleaning with bleach, baking soda, ammonia, and vinegar did nothing to rid my freezer of the horrible odor. We finally gave up and decided to just take it to the dump.

The very day our friend was due to come over and help load the freezer into the truck to go to the dump, my dear aunt told me she knew a way to rid freezers of smells, use 'pure' vanilla. She said to take a large bottle of 'pure' vanilla and put it in a bowl and then put the bowl in the freezer and close the door. Leave the freezer closed without opening it for 3-4 days.

I was skeptical, but figured why not. I had nothing more to lose. We canceled the dump run and purchased the largest bottle of pure vanilla we could find. Four days later, I opened up the freezer to find absolutely no smell lingering from the rotted meats or vegetables. Absolutely amazing. It was just as fresh as ever.


We lost a ton of meat and produce that day, but we used the freezer for another 5 years.

Source: My dear aunt

By Bayliner from Perry Hall, MD

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August 26, 20110 found this helpful

Thanks for the tip. I love the smell of vanilla. Your story happened to me only my plug malfunctioned, so I totally understand the loss and shock. Another thing that works is coffee grinds. This was given to me from my "moving company" trucker brother. A client told them about it and from then on he recommended people to do that if they were moving, going on vacation or whenever their refrigerator or freezer would be empty for any length of time. I like vanilla better so I'll try this next time.

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August 27, 20110 found this helpful

I'm hoping that the vanilla works for ridding the ice cubes in my dispenser tray from their off taste. Will try it. Why do the ice cubes taste so bad?

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August 27, 20110 found this helpful

That happened to my friend also. The freezer was full of meat, mostly venison and elk. What a tragedy to lose that food. It was so bad that they just dug a huge hole in the back yard with a backhoe.


(They lived in the country, not in the city. *L*) They secured the door with duct tape and pushed the whole thing into the hole and covered it up. That's been 20 years ago...wonder what that stuff in the freezer is like today. Eww!

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August 30, 20110 found this helpful

Interesting, I will try this, thanks!

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March 11, 20141 found this helpful

My freezer smells as you describe. Sounds like great idea. Question is: What is "pure vanilla"? Is that vanilla extract?

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January 16, 20160 found this helpful

Hello Bayliner,
I have just done close to the same thing this past week and it has only been one week so can only begin to imagine how yours was after a month! I haven't yet given it alot of time but have tried, lemon, disinfectant, vanilla essence but not pure vanilla, coffee grinds, anything absorbent such as flour and have been starting to think I have permanently ruined the fridge as the smell seems to be so well worn into the plastics and this, like yours , is a smell with legs and then some.


Mine was a combination of different types of fish, chicken sausages and chops and that was just the freezer! The fridge part had an array of things that have also contributed and given some nice warm days in Sydney in the last week, the smell was nice and ripe on arrival home.
Thanks for your post, I will source some real vanilla as your post has given me a little bit of hope that the fridge is going to ever be ok again :)

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October 27, 20161 found this helpful

Should the freezer be on or off?

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November 16, 20160 found this helpful

After several days of washing, we're going to try this vanilla idea as a solution to our problem. Should the freezer be turned on first, or should we just close the doors on an unplugged freezer?

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December 14, 20161 found this helpful

My daughter put a box of flowers from her wedding in the freezer and all packaging on the meat took on the odor of the box material. If I try the vanilla do you do it while freezer is plugged in or un plugged

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July 24, 20170 found this helpful

I have the same question. Freezer on or unplugged for 3-4 days with vanilla in it??

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February 26, 20170 found this helpful

Does the freezer need to be on or off

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June 5, 20170 found this helpful

should it be plugged in or not?

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July 6, 20170 found this helpful

Do the freezer needs to be on or off

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August 16, 20170 found this helpful

Do you have freezer on or off after putting pure vanilla in ? I've tried lots of different things to get rid of smell from my freezer without success

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September 18, 20170 found this helpful

Should the fridge be running or just let it turned of?

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October 12, 20170 found this helpful

Should the freezer be plugged or unplugged during those 3-4 days?

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