Eliminating Refrigerator Odors

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Removing Refrigerator Odors

Help! Lightening hit our camper and knocked out the refrigerator, TV, microwave, VCR, DVD player, the control board for the power, and the electric part of the hot water heater. We have insurance, so they will replace the electric part of the fridge. To buy a new fridge, it would have cost $1,500! The fridge was full when the power went down and it was almost two weeks before we found it. The smell almost knocked me down when I opened the door! (rotten chicken in the freezer part, yuck!) I have put in newspaper and bowls of charcoal, and it still stinks. Any ideas would be very welcome.

Freshen with Ground Coffee

The same thing happened to me about 25 years ago. The repairman told me to put shallow bowls of fresh ground coffee in the fridge and freezer. Worked like a charm! I still use a bowl of ground coffee instead of baking soda to keep my fridge smelling good.

Nothing Can Get By Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are both very good at reducing odors. I suggest washing down the inside of the fridge and freezer with a baking soda paste and then rinse and put a bowl of vinegar in each compartment with the doors closed. This should reduce odor tremendously.

Could Some Juices Still Be There?

There is probably a tray under the fridge that must be cleaned out. The defrosted liquids have traveled down there and are the most probable cause of the stench. If you can't find this tray, Google(r) the fridge's brand on an Internet search and see if the manufacturer has a site that will direct you how to find it and remove it. This happened to me, and if I was a rich woman, that fridge would have been at the curb. Mine was a full size one, and I had scrubbed, bleached, etc. to no avail. I pulled it out and still could not find it. Finally, I did the dreaded "nose test." I pulled it out and sniffed my way down until I found it. The tray could not be removed. I stuck paper towels in and removed them when they got saturated. The smell cannot be described. When the last towel came out dry, I poured a bleach solution in with a funnel. I let it sit and did the paper towel thing again. No more smell. It will certainly make you think twice about leaving chicken in the freezer when you can't check on it daily.

Wet Newspaper Absorbs Odors

I, too, had a similar experience when a freezer full of meat lost power while we were out of town. I tried bleach and various cleaners to no avail. We were ready to throw out the refrigerator. As a last resort, we went back to the store where we purchased it and the manager had a suggestion.

You say that you tried newspaper, but perhaps you did not try this method. He said to wad up the paper and pack the unit tight with the paper. Then pour a cup of water on the paper, close the door and leave the unit running. Every couple of days open the door and add more water. This actually worked for us and saved us the cost of a new refrigerator.
Elaine M.

Kitty Litter Trick

I work at the public library. When we get books in that are smelly (it happens regularly), we put them in a plastic tote with clay (non-clumping) cat litter. The smell make take a day or two to go away, but it does work!
Lori B-L in Newberg, OR

Odors Vanish with Vanilla

Try cotton balls with vanilla extract. When my sister moved out of my house, she left fish in the freezer and unplugged the refrigerator. I thought the smell would never come out. After trying the cotton balls for about a week, changing them every two to three days, the smell finally went away.

Three Step Approach to Odor Elimination

We had a freezer full of food get accidentally unplugged and it was a week till we found it. First thing we did was to plug it back in until it was all frozen again! Then we removed everything and washed the inside with lots of bleach and hot, hot water. After that, we sprinkled in a huge box of baking soda and let it sit for a day or so. Then we poured in vinegar and scrubbed it all again. We had to repeat a couple of times with the baking soda/vinegar combo, but eventually it was completely odour-free. Baking soda really is the best for absorbing odours from the air.
Rachel of Ontario, Canada

Wash Out with Vanilla

My old boss saved a dorm-sized fridge from being thrown out by the mechanics next door. The fridge had been sitting unplugged with old food in it for I don't know how long. My boss simply took a bottle of vanilla extract (not imitation) and poured it all over the interior. He left it for a day (plugged in by this point) and came back and wiped it out with more vanilla. We have used the fridge for years since.
Sarah in KY

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