Rotten Fish Smell in Freezer?

October 31, 2005

During the recent hurricane in Florida we lost electricity. There was frozen fish in the freezer and it defrosted. I cannot get the rotten fish smell out. I have washed it two times and the smell is still there. Any help would be appreciated.


Happy Day from Boynton Beach, FL


By Anna from Maine (Guest Post)
October 31, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

I had the same thing happen to me except it was deer meat, I put jar covers with fresh coffee grounds (right from the can) in my freezer and let sit for about a week, the smell has never returned.

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By Jim Ross (Guest Post)
November 10, 20051 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have found fresh coffee grounds (in pie plates to increase their surface area) or crumpled up newspapers (Placed in a salad bowl,& very slightly dampened w/a spray bottle) work the best to pull odors out of the materials interiors of appliances and automobiles are made of. Hope this helps..

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By Lesley. (Guest Post)
June 9, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

You are all brilliant, my freezer is smelling like a summers day. I had already tried bicarb to no avail. Your ground coffee and newspaper did the trick.

Thank you!

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By Mary (Guest Post)
October 3, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

I turned off my frig and washed it out with soapy water, then I went over it and cleaned it out with lemon and vinegar. I let it sit open for one day. It did not work. As soon as I plugged in the frig it was smelling like shrimp again. Then I put two round cake pans FILLED with ground coffee and crumbled up news paper lightly sprayed with water and let it sit for two whole days. It WORKED. My frig does not smell like shrimp or fish any more. It smelled like coffee but it will go away in a couple of days and your frig will smell good.

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3 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 24, 2011

I can't get the rotten fish odor out of my freezer. I tried charcoal, lemon, vinegar, and baking soda, but nothing seem to work. What can I use?

By Mike


June 27, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

My freezer had been unplugged and everything had rotted in it. We had fish, wild game and every kind of meat in it that had rotted. I washed it out with pinesol and javex then put a plate of baking soda in it for a day or two. I did this for about a week. Kept changing the baking soda. I then did the same thing with dried used coffee grinds. I did this for another 2 weeks. The freezer is now odorless and reusable. If the baking soda didn't work the coffee grinds did. The smell is all gone. Hope this helps.

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June 28, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

When this happened to me and none of the suggested methods worked (coffee grounds, baking soda, etc.) I got a 5# bag of the clay kitty litter, used an ice pick and jabbed it all over to make tiny holes and closed it up in the freezer for about a week and it took care of the odor. In order to not take any chance that it might return I got another bag of kitty litter and kept it in my freeaer for a year. That Freezer lasted me for more than 30 years after that and I never had another odor in it.
Hope this helps!

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June 28, 20111 found this helpful
Best Answer

I had the same problem in my refrigerator when some fish juice spilled in it. I read on Thriftyfun to use crumpled up newspaper in the fridge/freezer so I tried it. I left the paper in it for two days, changing the paper each day and it worked like a charm.

I put crumpled newspaper on every shelf.

Hope this will work for you. I also tried baking soda, ammonia, bleach solution, 409, etc., but nothing worked until I used the newspaper. In fact, all I had as far as newspaper went was the colored sections of advertisements and it worked anyway; I didn't have the regular black and white newspaper itself.

Lots of luck!

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September 19, 2017

King crab legs thawed as the freezer door was left ajar, how do I remove the smell?


September 19, 20170 found this helpful

You will need to remove the other food from your freezer.

Step 1
In a bucket, mix some water with vinegar and a little baking soda.

Step 2
Use a sponge to clean the side and bottom of the freezer.

Step 3
Empty the bucket and this time use baking soda with the water.

Step 4
Clean the freezer again.

Step 5
Take a clean rag and add some vanilla extract to the rag.

Step 6
Wipe down all surfaces in the freezer.

Step 7
Open a fresh box of baking soda and put this in the back of the freezer and close the door.

Step 8
The baking soda will remove the rest of the order in the freezer.

Step 9
Leave this for about an hour before putting the food back in the freezer.

Step 10
Leave the box of baking soda in the freezer.

Step 11
Change the box of baking soda once every 3 months.

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September 19, 20170 found this helpful
  • Place trays of activated charcoal, clean kitty litter or baking soda on the shelves of the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Place freshly ground coffee on cookie sheets in the refrigerator or freezer and close the door.
  • Pack each refrigerator or freezer shelf with crumpled newspaper. Set a cup of water on the top shelf or sprinkle the newspaper with water. Allow the refrigerator or freezer to run for approximately 5 or 6 days. This method is time consuming, but effectively removes strong odors.
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September 19, 20170 found this helpful

Hopefully the odor was contained within the freezer and is not all over your kitchen or house. You do not say if this is a stand alone freezer or if it a freezer/refrigerator but in either case you will need to defrost the freezer so that means removing all food and store it safely or you may have to throw a lot of it away.

  • After food has been removed and safely stored you can decide what method to try first.
  • White Vinegar Wipe Down
  • Vanilla & Newspaper Wads
  • Coffee Grounds Tray
  • Lemon Juice Spray & Wipe
  • Sprinkle Baking Soda
  • Here is a link that gives full instructions for each method:

Here is another link that also has a little different suggestions.

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September 19, 20170 found this helpful

Getting seafood smell out of freezer.

Step 1
You will need to fill up a spray bottle with vinegar and equal parts water,and squeezed lemon.

Step 2
Empty your freezer spray vinegar solution in freezer.

Step 3
Leave it sit 20 minutes and wipe off.

Step 4
You can also cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice right in the freezer.Let sit 20 minutes wipe off.

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July 25, 2016

We recently bought a used deep freezer. It has a bad odor of fish. It's been unplugged. Yesterday I put a box of baking soda in it and plugged it in. How do I get that smell out?


July 25, 20160 found this helpful

You may have a serious problem! Biofilm is a difficult to impossible odor to remove from fridges and freezers. It is similar to plaque on teeth but much more difficult to remove. We had a similar problem with our fridge and our landlady had to replace it. It was clear that she knew about the odor as she did not complain when we advised her of the odor problem.

The article below from the "Geeks On Home" provides various methods to remove odors but also states the smell may have gotten into the liner and insulation. The article recommends replacing the liner and insulation to resolve the odor problem. In your case, it may be cheaper to buy a new freezer.

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