How to Get the Smell out of the Refrigerator after a Power Outage?

Last updated:

Power outages can be pretty frustrating. The reason is that it causes many household problems. For example, one of the most common experiences homeowners like me have is the unpleasant odor coming from refrigerators.  Unfortunately, this problem has become quite a norm to many people and has left them seeking answers. So how do you get the smell out of the refrigerator after a power outage?

It would help to clean it out thoroughly to get the smell out of a refrigerator during a power outage. Afterward, it’d help to place some baking soda on a wide plate in the fridge. The baking soda will absorb the odor and make your fridge smell clean within three days. 

Are you curious to find out more about this issue? Would you like to know what exactly makes your refrigerator smell? Or would you like to see a step-by-step procedure on how to take away foul odors from your fridge? Then please stick around as I have written about these and more below.

Why Does A Refrigerator Smell After A Power Outage?

Of course, there are many reasons your fridge could smell when the power goes out. I’ll show you the most common and more likely ones. You definitely won’t find something like a bag of cold farts that got thawed in the outage. So, what are the usual culprits responsible for the foul smell of fridges?

  1. Mold From Rotting Food

Mold from food is one of the most common reasons fridges smell. Because you’re probably used to stable electricity, you could keep food in your refrigerator and even forget that it’s there. So, when the power suddenly goes out unexpectedly and isn’t restored quickly, you’ll be surprised. 

For example, a lasagna that you kept in the back of the fridge two weeks ago will remind you of its presence with a strong odor.

Mold is fungi and is found in most food substances. The cold indoor environment of your fridge when there’s electricity running inhibits the growth of microorganisms like fungi. So, when the power’s out, it will grow by eating your food. In the process, your food decomposes, and this could form a nasty smell. Therefore, moldy food is a primary culprit to foul refrigerator smells.

  1.  Liquid From Food And Vegetables

This point is an even more discreet reason your fridge could be smelling. Most foods and veggies contain water to varying degrees. Therefore, if you put something that’s not packaged in your refrigerator, it’ll absorb liquid from the coolant when it thaws. 

This liquid will mix with its water content within, and some will come off later. This phenomenon is widespread with vegetables. When the ice is gone, and nothing’s cold in your fridge anymore, the liquid will seep out of the veggies causing them to rot.

Sometimes, it’s hard even to spot these liquids because they can be very clear or transparent. However, they have a nasty smell after a while. As a result, liquid from food and vegetables in your refrigerator could cause the odor you perceive from it. 

  1. The Fridge’s Insulator

Yes, the refrigerator itself could be the culprit here. Refrigerators are padded with a special plastic called polyurethane foam. It locks the cold in and keeps heat out. But the only problem here is that it absorbs odor from food. 

Even the slightest hint of smell will get absorbed by this insulator. For this reason, an empty old fridge will smell worse than an empty, relatively new one when there’s no power. 

Furthermore, this is the worst-case among these three reasons. The reason for this is because there’s nothing for you to wipe off. Sadly, the only way out is for you to rip open your fridge’s interior.

So, the question that may be running through your mind is, “how exactly do you get rid of the horrendous smell

How To Get The Smell Out Of The Refrigerator After A Power Outage?

So, I’ve talked about what causes your refrigerator to smell. Moving on, how then can you make your fridge less pungent?

There are some ways to get the smell out of your refrigerator during prolonged power outages. These methods are pretty interdependent. And each progressive step is for a different level of stink.

So, if the smelling stops at some point as you take each step, you could stop there. If otherwise, you should continue until you’re done with everything.

Below are the steps to getting rid of pungency in your refrigerator:

  1. First, Declutter Your Refrigerator

Since there’s a power outage, you’re not going to be using your fridge. So the first thing you should do is get it empty. To declutter your fridge:

  • Take away all the packaged food that’s in the refrigerator.
  • Remove all non-packaged food in the refrigerator. 
  • If you see any moldy food, get rid of it.
  • Remove all the plastic holders. 
  • Remove any other detachable compartment you kept food before.
  1. Drain The Refrigerator

Now, you need to drain all the liquid from your refrigerator. Most of the liquid is from the condenser coolant. Nevertheless, I cannot overemphasize how this could make your fridge stink. Here’s how you should drain your refrigerator:

  • Get a small dry towel and a bowl.
  • Dip the towel in areas where a liquid is pooled and squeeze it into the bowl. 
  • Keep doing this until the water is completely gone
  • Then, move on to corners and deep undetachable compartments.
  • Use the towel to absorb the water and squeeze it into the bowl. 
  • Keep doing this until you’re satisfied with the dryness of these areas.
  1. Clean The Refrigerator

After draining your fridge and ensuring that all the liquid is gone, you’ll need to clean it with detergent. For this, you’ll have to:

  • Get a separate small towel and a bowl with a mild detergent solution.
  • Dip the towel into the bowl containing the solution and squeeze it. 
  • Use the towel to clean the interior surfaces of your fridge.
  • Keep dipping the towel periodically in the detergent solution, so your work will be effective.
  • Ensure you appropriately clean out corners and deep compartments. 
  • Keep doing this until you’re satisfied with your work
  • Wash all the compartments you removed from the refrigerator separately.
  1. Apply Baking Soda

Now, this step is something you can skip if the other three got rid of the smell. But in most cases, especially if you’re using an old fridge, the smell will persist. What baking soda does is that it balances the pH of the substances in the air that causes your fridge to smell. These particles could be acidic or alkaline, so baking soda — Sodium Bicarbonate — basically neutralizes them, making your fridge smell normal again.

So all you have to do is:

  • Pour some baking soda into a wide, dry plate.
  • Put the plate in the middle of your refrigerator.
  • If your refrigerator’s significant, you could use more plates of baking soda. 
  • Leave this in the fridge for about three days.