Cleaning up a fridge
January 9, 2006 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Are there any good tricks for getting mildew (mostly odor) out of a late-model fridge that spent the summer in storage?

The fridge was never tidied up or aired out; it was basically emptied, unplugged, and went into a storage unit during the summer months. Needless to say, George Clinton doesn't have anything on this refrigerator's funk.

It's a Whirlpool 21 cu ft fridge bought in 2001, no icemaker or hoses (thankfully), frost-free. Pretty much like a generic standard refrigerator except for the larger size.

My hunch is it needs to be opened to sunlight and aired out for a week. And I am guessing lots of baking soda will be needed for awhile. Am I forgetting anything?
posted by chef_boyardee to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Bleach. One part bleach in two parts water in a spray bottle. Spray liberally and air dry. Sunlight is good, but won't kill mildew in the shadows.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:35 PM on January 9, 2006


damp rid might help.

also, they have baking soda in these self breathe boxes..
posted by Izzmeister at 12:38 PM on January 9, 2006

Bleach + water in a sprayer, 50-50. Hose it down liberally, wipe up any ooky stuff, and let it air out to get the bleach smell out. Sunlight would help get rid of the bleach smell and is also a natural disinfectant.
posted by theora55 at 12:40 PM on January 9, 2006

A final wipe down with vanilla essence is also good, I use it to remove and also conceal the last hints of mould and cleaning product smells.
posted by tomble at 12:41 PM on January 9, 2006

Bleach is the standard tool against mildew.
posted by caddis at 12:50 PM on January 9, 2006

Vinegar might also help, but bleach will kill any grossness dead. Bleach has a stronger smell though, so rinse rinse rinse.
posted by catfood at 12:52 PM on January 9, 2006

Or what Kirth said.
posted by theora55 at 1:00 PM on January 9, 2006

I have been through this exercise with a college refrigerator which sat for more than a summer getting mildewy, probably several years. Bleach followed by lemon dish soap killed the mildew and left the fridge smelling clean. Spray the bleach on and let it sit with the door closed for a few hours if the mildew has penetrated into inaccessible areas. The vapors will penetrate better than liquid to get into the tight spots and kill the mildew. It will take longer to get the bleach smell out though.
posted by caddis at 1:02 PM on January 9, 2006

Once you've cleaned the fridge as described by caddis, set a small dish of sodium bicarbonate in the fridge and it will absorb odours.
posted by essexjan at 1:16 PM on January 9, 2006

Bleach is good but will struggle with a serious case of mildew in a FF fridge because of all the growing surface internally that you can't get to. A good cleaning + plugging it it will often supress the mildew but it doesn't really kill it.

Much better is full strength anhydrous ammonia, you can often get 90+% from blueprinting supply locations. Let about a cup evaporate inside the fridge for 2-3 days. Make sure you do this outside as you'll need to open the door eventually and straight ammonia is nasty, nasty stuff.
posted by Mitheral at 1:30 PM on January 9, 2006

Considering how poisonous ammonia is, I would recommend skipping on that. You're better off with the mildew smell. I agree with most of the other people here that dilute bleach is the way to go.

By the way, the whole business about baking soda is an urban legend created by Arm & Hammer and pushed via TV advertising to increase their sales. I see no reason to believe that it actually makes any significant difference.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:35 PM on January 9, 2006

Activated charcoal set in a tray and left on the bottom shelf for a while with the door closed (several days? a week?) will remove unappealing odors , after you've killed the nasties. Get it at large pet store that stocks aquarium supplies.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:26 PM on January 9, 2006

An open box of Baking Soda does help absorb odors.
posted by Gooney at 12:00 PM on January 10, 2006

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