Sandalwood cheese? Bleargh.
February 4, 2008 6:37 PM   Subscribe

How do I remove the smell of aromatic oils from my fridge? Baking soda & activated carbon don't cut it.

Three years ago, my roommate stowed some aromatherapy oils in a compartment in the door of the fridge. The compartment has a rubber gasket and is sort-of airtight. Evidently a couple of them (tea tree and sandalwood) leaked. About a year later I noticed my cheese & butter had started getting gross. We cleaned the fridge a few times, but mostly I just started sealing stuff very carefully AND still having to throw out the first few slices of cheese.

Finally a month ago, we figured it out was the oils. We took them out and sealed them in a proper container, and washed out the whole fridge.

But the compartment they used to be stored in still is super smelly. The smell is slowly taking hold in the rest of the fridge again. I think the oils may have soaked into the plastic or rubber some.

I can remove the shelf/compartment bit and clean it in any way possible: What should I do to get the smell out?

I have a Tub o' Carbon in there which doesn't seem to be sufficient.
posted by aubilenon to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Wash with a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water. Rinse thoroughly. Wash again, this time with a baking-soda solution. Rinse, repeat - and you probably will have to.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:57 PM on February 4, 2008

Here are some more radical solutions:
Simple Green
Goo Gone
Lighter Fluid
Test in an inconspicuous area and don't close the door until any aerosols dissipate.
Good luck
posted by Fins at 7:33 PM on February 4, 2008

If you can remove the compartment, is there anything to stop you from just chucking it? It sounds like you were only storing the oils there anyway.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:18 PM on February 4, 2008

If it fits, wash the compartment in your dishwasher a few times. If it doesn't, scrub it and soak it overnight in soapy water, and repeat as necessary.
posted by zippy at 8:37 PM on February 4, 2008

IANAD, but putting crazy chemicals like lighter fluid or Formula 409 in a space where your food is stored strikes me as a terrifically bad idea. That kind of stuff makes me cough in large spaces -- I'd hate to see the repercussions of it seeping into your food.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:03 PM on February 4, 2008

Lighter Fluid

WTF? Lighter fluid flavoring isn't going to be any nicer than tea tree flavoring. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, so I wouldn't mess around with plastics+petrochems+volatile oils unless I knew exactly what I was doing. I would use full strength white vinegar or possibly vodka, plus sunlight and air if the part is removable.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:37 PM on February 4, 2008

Would it cost that much to replace the compartment? I broke the meat drawer on my fridge, a replacement cost $12.
posted by Marky at 10:01 PM on February 4, 2008

I've had practice with this. The bad news is, it's going to take awhile - you may need to do this a couple times a day for two-three weeks.

First, try vinegar - UNDILUTED. Follow this up with Everclear. Alternate until the scent is obliterated. Sandalwood and Tea Tree oil are both the type that can and have lasted over 1000 years left unchecked. The combination, used with persistence, will break up the lingering oil slick.

If roomie is still around, let her/him know that only citrus oils absolutely require refrigeration.
Just store them out of light and away from varying temperatures.
posted by medea42 at 10:35 PM on February 4, 2008

A mover friend of mine said that coffee grounds in an open top jar absorbed odors well. I'd go with the vinegar/everclear first and then set the coffee in it.

And what medea42 said about storage.
posted by lysdexic at 5:15 AM on February 5, 2008

Seconding the fresh coffee grounds. :)
posted by cass at 9:33 AM on February 6, 2008

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