We have a 5-year-old maytag refrigerator that has started to stink in
the last month and we can't figure out where the smell is coming from.
We've cleaned underneath, vacuumed out the drip pan, removed all the
food, but there's this smell that's particularly prevalent when you open
the door. We've put baking soda in, but we just can't seem to get rid
My wife says it smells like the compost bin, not like a mouse crawled
in and died.
Any idea where smells can hide in the guts of a fridge?
It's always good to find advice from people who have dealt with the
same problem before. When you say the plastic, is there any particular
part you're referring to? The gasket seals? The doors or shelves?
And when you say Vanilla wash, do you really mean vanilla extract?
Or some kind of cleaner I'm unfamiliar with? My wife was thinking of
using one of those citrus-based cleaners.
She also is of the impression that the odor is strongest in the back
by the air exchangers, but I'm not sure about that.
Hey Graham SFB like it sez uncured plastic...
Phone Maytag that's what I did and explained the problem and that was there
They removed the Fridge and striped it down and gave it a vanilla Bath..
By the way its only a tempory fix.
In the walls,and gaskets.
If a top freezer under the floor plate in the freezer,
and in the duct work of the air circulator fan.
Tricky to get rid of.
Depending how long you can live without a frig
you could take everything out and put in bowls
of chlorine bleach water and let them evaporate
through the entire box while running. Takes a couple of days.
Then turn the box off ,open the door and let air out
a couple of days.
He's not talking about the whole thing evaporating, just as much as
will do so with a medium or big size electric mixer mixing bowl size.
I haven't done this, but it sounds like it would work. But I doubt
you'll be able to notice that the level went down.
My Kenmore has a sticker on the fridge wall saying it is a special
material that doesn't absorb odors. From that I deduced that some
fridge and/or freezer walls absorb odors.
Not sure where its coming from but...............
THE BEST way to eliminate the smell is by using charcoal. Its been
proven. Someone left an uncooked chicken in their trunk in Florida for 3
days. Phew!!!! and Crab smell in a fridge.)
Dont buy a bag with the match lite/ easy lighting charcoal. Just a
mixing bowl size of charcoal and let it sit open in the fridge.
Mark Modrall wrote:
I have never understood this theory. In the first place, only
"activated" charcoal is effective. In the second, it will only remove
impurities in the air. Unless you remove the source of the odor, it
will regenerate as fast as you remove it.
Someone up thread mentioned an "orange cleaner". Don't. I can tell
you from sad experience with a freezer it will leave it's own
objectionable odor (I used "409"). After it was too late I looked at
the small print on the label: "Not for refrigerators". Duh! I was
able to get most of it out by leaving a small saucer of household
ammonia in the freezer over night, although it took three treatments.
I have never tried vanilla, but I have read where you just end up with
a vanilla smell permeating all your food.
I bought a used upright Hotpoint refrigerator that had a bad odor.
Took the whole thing apart and cleaned every nook and cranny
scrupulously. The odor remains to this day, several years later. I
suspect it is due to bacteria in the insulation between the walls or
perhaps due to the insulation itself. If that is the case, I can't
imagine how one would get rid of the odor short of getting rid of the
Once I had a stinking fridge. It would stink even with the door shut.
Someone had spilt some milk which had run out of the drain at the back of
the fridge and it collected in the plastic tray which is located on the
back of the fridge on top of the compressor where it would stay nice and
warm. Water condensed inside the fridge would be regularly channelled
through the drain and into the plastic tray, to prevent the mouldy stuff
from dehydrating and dieing. After a few weeks it was fairly smelly.
There's still a lot to look at here. Most modern refrigerators have a sort
of plumbing system that channels water (generated by the defrost cycle) away
and to a structure that allows it to evaporate.
Unplug the power (don't just turn the fridge off) before trying any of
There might be some area where the drain has become plugged and is not
letting water get away. Given enough hot/cold cycles, it could really turn
nasty and stinky. If you can get at the lines and channels that are supposed
to take this water away, pour boiling (or at least very hot) water down
them. This can flush out a clog in the lines. Be careful, however, as this
could cause parts to melt or swell.
Also look in the fan ducting. Maybe something got spilled or leaked into
Smells can also hide underneath the plastic "skin", as it isn't always a
solid piece. Sometimes it happens that something gets spilled and leaks down
underneath the points where the plastic comes together. I've never had to
deal with this kind of a problem, but I have seen it happen and I don't
think it would be fun to fix it.
Well, we're trying some of the suggestions here. We emptied the
thing and cleaned it all out. One curious thing - when the freezer
started to thaw, water started coming out of the gasket on the freezer
door. It's still draining after a couple of hours. Would water have
condensed inside the door and built up after a while?
My wife's afraid to use clorox to evaporate inside because clorox can
corrode metal, so she's going to use lysol. But she was concerned about
the amount of water coming out of the freezer door. Anyone else seen
Mark, most refrig freezer doors have ice trapped inside them;
especially older ones with fiberglass insulation.
Water always drains out of the freezer door when I've had a
refrig turned off for a while, working on it. Comes out mostly
at the hinges, but also from under the seal and wherever else
it can find a 'drain'. 'Have seen it happen for several decades
now, and I consider it normal.
Hope that's of some help.
Dave's Repair Service
New Albany, PA
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