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upright freezer rotting meat odor - help!

4144 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  montydog
Hi there,
First time posting, but many of my searches over the years have led me here - but I have not found anything that might help resolve this problem.

My upright freezer got unplugged and a bunch of meat went rotten and I can't get the smell out! Is my freezer finished?

About 2 months ago I was moving some stuff around in the basement and noticed an odor. When I was near the freezer, I noticed it was not working! Upon opening was hit with a massive stench of rotting meat. Seems like somehow the plug was nudged out of the socket god-knows how long ago. Must have been weeks. I immediately got some rubber gloves, pulled out all the meat into garbage backs and wiped everything down first with soap/water, then bleach/water, then vinegar/water. Put the garbage bags of meat back in(with it turned on) since it was late at night and immediately took them to the dump the next day. After than, repeated the process: soap/water, bleach/water, vinegar/water. Put 2-3 boxes of baking soda in tin foil trays and left it a few days. When I checked on it, the stench was just as bad. So I repeated the process and have been doing so about ever week for 8 weeks. The smell only started getting *slightly* better after I tried wiping the interior down with a baking soda paste, then rinse with water and finish with vinegar/water. That was 2 weeks ago. I changed the baking soda 3 times in the last 8 weeks and even added about 2 cups of activated charcoal (from the pet store), and replaced that once already.

Anyone else have a similar experience and successfully recover the use of the freezer? Or should I just have it hauled away and get another one?

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i'd start with making sure the drain, surfaces and gasket are fully cleaned with baking soda ( may need to remove parts to fully clean them)

then put a bunch of newspaper in there with charcoal on top for a fewdays (week?)

then wipe down with vanilla.

I've also heard of truck drivers using coffee grounds and also cinnamon to get smells out of their trailers ( worked in a cold storage for many years, still in IT) Fish and chicken rotting are some of the worst smells, imo.
It might be most useful to know what you're probably dealing with before you go off and try x number of miracle solutions to 'unidentified' problems and that's why I suggest you may be dealing with more than you or anyone else may be able to handle; for in this case you may be dealing with organic compounds of small molecular weight, that result from the putrefaction of dead tissue - best known as the "dead flesh" smell...

Now the good thing is that these products are water-soluble, therefore can be cleaned with water; the bad news is that they are such small molecules are therefore can get into anywhere, probably through the walls of the freezer - since plastics are permeable to some extent - and perhaps the mechanisms outside the actual freezer, inside compartment.

Since we know something about these odorifierous molecules (i.e they are alkaline), they can be treated and one treatment is with an acid, something more than vinegar. However, the treatment may be more and do more damage than the freezer is worth.

The smell may also be in the polyurethane insulation and may have done some damage to it; therefore complete replacement of the insulation may be called for. But then how do you do that?

That's all I can offer, sorry.
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My guess would be that some of the fluid got inside the walls of the freezer and is smelling. I don't know how to remove that smell without dismantling the freezer or applying hydrogen peroxide or some other agent to kill the bacteria inside the walls.
Clean with vinegar or baking soda. You need to ensure that the entire thing is clean. Any bits left over will still stink up the freezer again
"Clean with vinegar or baking soda"


He did that. Re-read the OP. :whistling2:
Thanks for the help. After talking to some appliance repair people, they more or less concurred that its likely the smell for into the inner walls and since my freezer has a vent and fan system I'd have to take all that apart to clean it all out.

So scratch one freezer. I just ordered another one. I'm also going to find a monitoring system that would notify me if it loses power. Maybe this will be the thing that makes me finally start an arduino project .

FYI: The molecules I was talking about are called, for obvious reasons, "Putrescine" and "Cadaverine". They come from the breakdown of proteins and are very small molecules that permeate everything, to the point where they require professional help in removing...i.e trauma scene cleanup. It can be done - but it'll cost ya!

Sorry about the freezer. But you did the right thing by consulting an outside source rather than spend countless $ on DIY or consumer-type products or remedies. This was a case for the pros.
Thanks. My only regret was not coming to this conclusion a month ago. Now I have to go through Christmas without a big freezer. Just have to get creative I guess.
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