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Fridge Smells that Won't Go Away

Q: While we were on vacation, the fridge and the freezer stopped working, during which time there was a heat wave. There had been meat in the freezer, including a whole turkey. You can imagine the result.


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I've washed the inside, but the awful smell remains.


A: That wasn't a welcome-home feast of the senses, to be sure. But the worst of it is actually over: You've removed all the decomposing foodstuff. Now, it's just a matter of deodorizing the appliance in a big way.

That involves a relatively simple seven-step process, according to the folks at Amana, a refrigerator manufacturer. But the bad news is you will be without a refrigerator for about two days.

  1. Remove all food.
  2. Dissolve four teaspoons baking soda in one quart of water. With a soft, clean cloth, rewash all interior surfaces, including the top, bottom, drawers and walls. Rinse surfaces with warm water. Dry with a soft, clean cloth.
  3. Place crisper drawers on top shelves of the refrigerator.
  4. Pack the refrigerator, including doors and drawers, with crumpled sheets of newspaper. (Black and white only — no color pages.)
  5. Place charcoal briquets (one large bag should do) randomly throughout the newspaper.
  6. Close the doors and let stand 24 to 48 hours.
  7. Remove charcoal briquets and newspapers. Wash all interior surfaces with a rag moistened with liquid dish-washing detergent dissolved in warm water. Pay special attention to corners and crevices.

If there's still a lingering odor, bleach spray cleaner should help eliminate it.

Fridge Smells that Won't Go Away:  Created on January 5th, 2005.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014


About Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is author of Housekeeping With Kids. Her San Francisco Chronicle column entitled "Coming Clean" — focusing on household cleaning and maintenance — reaches 1.5 million readers. Aronson is an expert in home cleaning and organizing. Her advice has appeared in numerous national and regional publications, including Ladies' Home Journal, The Washington Post and Woman's World. Visit Tara's Web site.

Aronson is fast becoming a familiar face on national television (Living It Up with Ali & Jack, Soap Talk, The Other Half, CNNfn, etc.) and is also a much sought-after lifestyle expert for local television news and radio programs nationwide.

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