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Old 09-06-2019, 11:34 AM
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Fridge defrosted and smells bad


We have a fridge in the basement. Somehow, the circuit breaker was tripped, and we didn't notice, and everything in the rarely-used fridge defrosted and went bad. It smelled REALLY bad.

Can we salvage it? How? We are entering the season when I like to use the extra fridge -- for overflow apples, as extra space when I am getting ready for Thanksgiving and other winter feasts...

So I'd like to either clean and rehabilitate it or replace it somewhat soon.

Thanks for any advice, experience, etc.

(mods, if this is better in IMHO please move it there.)
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:45 AM
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What was in it? There's a big difference between some produce going rotten and rancid meat dripping into the drain.

I'd suggest you bleach the interior, find the drain and pour some bleach down it, find the condensate pan under the fridge, dump out the water and clean it with bleach and then leave it open for a few days and hope it airs out. It's hard to say without seeing your exact fridge where the smell is coming from. That is, it could just be that it smell bad, period, and needs to air out, or it could be that whatever was in there (especially if it was dripping) has access to a drain or could get on the coils.
But start by giving it a good cleaning with bleach or 409 or Simple Green and make sure to dump out and clean the condensate pan.
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:52 AM
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There was rancid meat in the freezer compartment. It smelled bad enough that we had to toss the cookies in the fridge compartment that had been wrapped and were inside sealed plastic bins.

Thanks, I'll try that this weekend.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzlegal View Post
There was rancid meat in the freezer compartment. It smelled bad enough that we had to toss the cookies in the fridge compartment that had been wrapped and were inside sealed plastic bins.

Thanks, I'll try that this weekend.
At the bottom of the freezer, probably near the back under the coils, there's a small hole, that's the drain. You may (likely) have to pop off a panel back there to get to it. Be careful if you do that, there coils back there tend to be sharp and bend easily. If anything was dripping (like meat juice) it went that way and to a pan under the fridge. This is a good time to pull the fridge away from the wall and see what's going on under it. If you're lucky, the smell is coming from that pan. Then it's just a matter of scrubbing that and giving everything else quick cleaning.

When (if) you move the fridge, plan for water (or whatever is back there) to splash around. After fully defrosting it's probably very full. If you have a wet/dry vac, that's a good way to get the pan emptied if there's too much water in it for you to carry it.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:05 PM
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You can try using some of that lemon juice on it.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:09 PM
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You can try using some of that lemon juice on it.
That's not a terrible idea.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:11 PM
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After you've got it thoroughly cleaned out following the advice above, put a good bit of baking soda in it, either loose or in wide open containers with a lot of surface area. Leave the door propped open (make very sure it can't accidentally shut on a cat or dog or child or whatever, if any such have any chance at all of having access to the room.) Give it a couple of days; then clean up and toss the baking soda, close it, and plug it in [ETA: and turn it on]. Wait another day and try the sniff test.

Don't close the door tight while it's not plugged in -- any tiny remaining bit of stink will multiply its effect in a closed but non-running refrigerator or freezer.

Last edited by thorny locust; 09-06-2019 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 09-07-2019, 01:07 PM
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We accidentally switched off the electricity to the fridge before going on a 4 weeks leave. Among the contents were a dozen frozen fish. When we came back, we tried a few things but in the end we threw the whole thing away. Once the smell is in the rubber and the walls and so on, it is practically impossible to get rid of it. Rotten meat may be more forgiven than rotten fish though.
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Old 09-07-2019, 01:22 PM
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I am of the belief that any hard surface can be cleaned. Now the rubber gaskets around the doors, not so much. Tubing for icemaker, same. You can replace those.
Bleach and baking soda are your best bets, here.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:06 PM
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So, we tried to clean the fridge. But it had a drip tray under the freezer that wasn't user accessible. We spent a long time undoing all the fasteners and trying to pry it up with scrapers, and it just wasn't designed to open.

The panel at the back was spot-welded in place.

So we bought a new fridge. Only, when I measured the space, I neglected to measure the width of the DOORWAYS. The new fridge couldn't be moved into the basement. With its doors off, it was half an inch wider than the doorway.

So the delivery guys helpfully moved the kitchen fridge to the basement, and the new fridge to the kitchen.

The damn thing is stainless steel. It would have cost $200 more to get it in "white", and I figured, it's in the basement, who cares?

HOW CAN I LIVE WITHOUT REFRIGERATOR MAGNETS?!!

I see hundreds of products on the market to use a magnetic film to make your white fridge look like it's stainless steel. Are there any products to cover a frigging stainless steel appliance with a friendlier surface? Like a curved whiteboard we can write on, or a sheet of metal we can stick magnets to? Ideally a surface that doesn't instantly cover with finger prints. Why the hell is stainless so popular, anyway? I should probably start a pit thread.

But, back to my question...

Where will I put the grocery list or the coupons or the Christmas cards?

Yeah, it would have completely been worth $200 bucks to me if I'd realized I would be putting this puppy in the kitchen.

Can I make this thing magnetic? Please?

Last edited by puzzlegal; 09-11-2019 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:53 PM
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Ummm? Double stick tape. Poster sticky gum stuff. It will always be a mess. Get a magnet board and hang it on a convienant wall and use magnets on that. I have a stainless fridge too. As I kinda like old looking things, I have a framed piece of corrugated tin that I use magnets on. If you're handy you might be able fashion a cork board to hang directly on the fridge with mounting tape. Good luck. Let us know what you do.
ETA, I painted a dorm fridge with chalkboard paint. It turned out to be a hit in the lil'wrekkers dorm room.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-11-2019 at 05:55 PM.
  #12  
Old 09-11-2019, 06:29 PM
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There's no good place to put a separate board. I was looking at that.

What I think I want is a piece of magnet board I can bend and stick to the surface. They do make good adhesives these days. I also found a place that does custom vinyl fridge wraps -- I asked if they do anything that can hold a magnet. I doubt it, but who knows. There are several companies that do vinyl wraps. Maybe glue a lot of little steel disks to the fridge, then cover it all in vinyl? That feels like a giant project that might end badly, though.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:49 PM
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In my crafty experience two metals are hard to glue together and it hold. I just thought of something, Office depot has cork strips that will stick to most surfaces. They may have self-adhesive metal strips. Worth a look see.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:53 PM
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I just found flexible magnetic strips on Amazon. Cheap as dirt. I bet Walmart has it too.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
I just found flexible magnetic strips on Amazon. Cheap as dirt. I bet Walmart has it too.
Thanks, I shall look for them.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
I just found flexible magnetic strips on Amazon. Cheap as dirt. I bet Walmart has it too.
So does your local hardware store, if you've still got one.
  #17  
Old 09-12-2019, 08:17 AM
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We do And yes, they are cheap. It will be ugly, but I think this is my solution. Thanks, Beckdawrek.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:28 AM
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It was years ago but we were able to buy 'fridgemagnet' plastic in sheets, the largest was about a metre square.
Try local signmaking places, they may well have some, especially automotive signmakers or modifiers.

Sodium Carbonate is good for removing smells such as you describe, also activated charcoal.
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Last edited by Myglaren; 09-12-2019 at 08:29 AM. Reason: Added stuff.
  #19  
Old 09-12-2019, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myglaren View Post
It was years ago but we were able to buy 'fridgemagnet' plastic in sheets, the largest was about a metre square.
Try local signmaking places, they may well have some, especially automotive signmakers or modifiers.

Sodium Carbonate is good for removing smells such as you describe, also activated charcoal.
Thanks.

I think if we'd been able to open up the drip tray, we could have cleaned it adequately. But metal had been welded, plastic had been, well, welded I guess, and it just wasn't designed for servicing. I guess on the plus side, the cols were really well protected, and it did last for a long time. The newer one is likely more efficient.
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