Getting stinky rotten milk smell out of a refrigerator
September 18, 2004 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Fridge disaster filter A pint of milk left without my knowledge in my fridge went seriously off. So I could clean the fridge without throwing up I put a saucer of mouthwash in there to deodorise it a bit (bad idea - yes, I am domestically clueless). The result even after defrosting, cleaning with bicarb and putting activated charcoal in there (tips derived from Google) still stinks - I think the door seals are holding a lot of the smell. I cleaned them carefully but no joy. The fridge is still quite a new one, I don't want to junk it - what can I try next?
posted by Flitcraft to Grab Bag (14 answers total)
posted by bingo at 1:55 PM on September 18, 2004

Have you tried white vinegar, diluted a bit? Especially on the door gaskets.

It's my go-to solution for when I find plastic sippy cups full of what used to be milk hidden around the house, and it really works.

Bleach might actually eat away at the gaskets.
posted by padraigin at 1:59 PM on September 18, 2004

If you're remotely handy, you should remove the seal/gasket and either:

1. Replace it for $30-$50. (unless the fridge is uncommon, this part should be easy to source)
2. Run it through the dishwasher a few times.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:04 PM on September 18, 2004

Swab with half a lemon, then vanilla essence.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:27 PM on September 18, 2004

A friend of mine had a stinky fridge upon moving into the new apartment (complete with mold!) Fixed it by some strong scrubbing with Comet.

Warning: Don't mix it with ammonia, as per a previous thread's idiotic joke!

The bleach component of Comet might ruin the gaskets or other stuff. However, he managed to clean it without damage, so why not give it a try?
posted by shepd at 2:27 PM on September 18, 2004

posted by mecran01 at 2:55 PM on September 18, 2004

Don't even add acidic substances to bleach ( lemon + bleach , acid + bleach is a no no no no!)
posted by elpapacito at 4:08 PM on September 18, 2004

EXSTINK dammit! Will you people with odor problems just buy some of this miraculous household substance already?
posted by majick at 4:44 PM on September 18, 2004

Majick, I fully intend to exstink the next stinky thing my normal destinkifying powers fail to destink. So, I've heard you, at least.

But may I please sing the praises of white vinegar, in a short rondelet with padraigin? It is amazingly cheap and I use it to clean everything that isn't wood in my home. I keep a spray bottle full of it on the sink and it's never failed me. Everything smells like bean salad for a while, then subsides into the smell of clean.

Use an old toothbrush to get into every crevice of the seal. For an extra-powerful stink like this one, I'd wouldn't dilute -- use it neat. Vanilla and lemon can't hurt, either, but I'd start with the white vinegar.

And Flitcraft, consider getting these two books for the next time you have to deal with a domestic disaster. Heloise is the John the Baptist of white vinegar; I am merely her disciple.
posted by melissa may at 6:56 PM on September 18, 2004

Whoops -- here's the other link I meant to include.
posted by melissa may at 6:58 PM on September 18, 2004

Also, however you clean it, leave it open for a couple of days. A pain in the ass, but necessary. Let it air out and dry out.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:57 AM on September 19, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you very much. We did manage to get the seals off and clean them and that did help a bit. I will try the vinegar next and the lemon. I live in the UK so I don't know about ordering the exstink. My other half wasn't impressed by their site - he thought there was a fair bit of pseudoscience on it, but I'd be interested to hear how it actually worked in action and what people had used it for.
posted by Flitcraft at 12:12 PM on September 19, 2004

Whatever you do, leave some baking soda in there for a while. I think this is the only cleanser that actually removes smells.
posted by xammerboy at 2:39 PM on September 19, 2004

If you use bleach, which I just used to clean my fridge after Ivan left me without power for 5ive days, be sure to dilute it. All you need is a weak solution to do the job. A little goes a long way. There are probably directions on the jug. You do not need or want to use straight bleach!
posted by wsg at 1:09 PM on September 24, 2004

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