A storm knocked out power to my refrigerator. It was full of food. The refrigerator breaker tripped while I was on vacation and it was full of food. The fridge was off for about 2 weeks. We had to throw away all of the food. Now everything is back to normal and we are trying to use the same refrigerator. The problem is the refrigerator has a very bad odor. Is there a way to get rid of the smell so we can use the refrigerator?
A refrigerator full of food that has lost electrical power is a huge problem. The food needs to be thrown away and the food odor can be difficult to fully remove. Fortunately there are some methods to try to remove the smelly odor from your fridge.
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Assuming the refrigerator has all the food removed, here are some things to try to remove the heavy smells and odors.
Remove Odor From Refrigerator After Prolonged Power Outage:
1. Unplug the refrigerator from power.
2. Be sure the refrigerator is completely empty.
3. Clean out any gunk or mold within the refrigerator.
4. Take out any removable parts and wash them separately.
5. Wipe the interior down with a baking soda solution or a vinegar solution.
6. Add a box of baking soda in the freezer and in the bottom compartment of the refrigerator.
7. Once the baking soda is in place, turn the power back.
8. Turn the refrigerator ON and to the coldest setting and let it run for 48 hours.
This will filter the air through the refrigerator and freezer and should remove the bad odor.
Another method to finalize this instead of using baking soda is to open the refrigerator door for a few days to let the odor escape, be sure the refrigerator is unplugged from power when refrigerator door is left open.
If the odor cannot be tolerated, move the refrigerator outside. If the refrigerator is moved outside keep the doors open to let the odor escape. Keep in mind if moving the refrigerator outside, unplug the fridge and disconnect the waterline before attempting to move it.
What Is The Best Solution To Clean A Smelly Refrigerator?:
Baking soda is good for “absorbing odors” and can be used to clean the inner walls and drawers of your fridge. Baking soda makes for fresher tasting food, absorbs and deodorizes food odor, and helps keep food tasting fresh for longer.
Adding open boxes of baking soda in the refrigerator and freezer and running the refrigerator on the coldest setting for a few days is shown to absorb and remove heavy odors. You can also use vinegar to wipe down the inside of the refrigerator or freezer if you choose.
If you unplugged the refrigerator and opened the doors, here is information on what to do next.
Test A Refrigerator For Any Remaining Odors:
1. Connect power and (if applicable) the water line to the refrigerator.
2. Turn ON the refrigerator and check if the odor has been removed.
(Make sure you keep the refrigerator empty until you know the smell is gone)
3. Let the refrigerator run for a few hours to be sure the smell is removed.
4. If the refrigerator odor is gone, add your food and use the refrigerator as normal.
5. If the odor is still present, add more baking soda in a bowl into the fridge and one bowl in the freezer and let the refrigerator run for 48 hours.
(The air moving around will filter through the baking soda inside and will reduce more odor)
6. If the refrigerator has an air filter, replace it to help reduce the odor.
7. If any part of the refrigerator still has a smell, wash it again separately.
8. Once the odor is fully removed, add your food back into the refrigerator.
How to Clean a Smelly Fridge
What If The Odor Cannot Be Removed From My Refrigerator?
If the refrigerator has an odor that just cannot be removed, such as rotten meat, or a freezer that smells like a dead animal that permeated the walls, you can use some different cleaners that are made to clean these types of smells. If you have the budget, buy a new refrigerator and have the delivery company take your stinky refrigerator.
Do you have ways of removing heavy odors from a refrigerator? Please let us know by using the comments below. This will help others and teach us other ways to remove odors from a refrigerator.
Allen is the author and creator of this website. He has years of experience with appliance repair, commercial food machinery maintenance, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, vehicle maintenance, and critical aviation related systems.