Nasty Smell: It’s Like Something Crawled In & Died

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How Stinky! - Tipnut.comHere are a few different tips I’ve collected over the years to clean really, really foul smells.

Things like your fridge dying while you’re away on a trip and you come back to rancid food that was sealed inside it for a week.

Or if the camper trailer had a long forgotten package of hamburger left in it during the off season and wasn’t discovered until you were packing up for a trip months later.

That rank, that foul.

What To Do First

  • The first thing to do is thoroughly clean the area or appliance inside and out. Use the strongest cleaner that you can without damaging any surface. Remove whatever can be removed and wash it piece by piece.
  • If the smell is so bad you’re gagging (and you probably will be), wear a mask and take plenty of fresh air breaks.

After you’re finished cleaning, the smell is likely still quite strong. Try one of the following methods. If one doesn’t work, try a different method until the smell has disappeared. This will probably take several days.

Getting Rid Of The Smell

Method #1

  • Fill an empty ice cream pail half full with regular bbq charcoal briquettes and cover completely with vinegar. Seal the lid and leave sit for about 10 minutes for the vinegar to soak in each briquette. After 10 minutes remove briquettes and place on foil baking sheet or even in another ice cream pail. Place these briquettes in the fridge or room that stinks.
  • If the area is a large room, you’ll want a few pails of these to place around the room. Seal the area by closing the doors and windows and leave alone for at least 24 hours, you may need longer depending on the size of the area. If the smell still lingers, repeat the process.

Method #2

  • Sprinkle a baking sheet generously with fresh coffee grounds and place in the refrigerator. If it’s a larger room, place a few baking sheets full of coffee grounds in the area. Also place a pail filled with crumpled sheets of newspapers doused in vinegar inside the area. Seal the fridge or room for up to a week.

Method #3 – For the Desperate

  • Use caution with this method. Fill a foil pie tin with coffee grounds. Sprinkle a small amount of bbq lighter fluid on top of the grounds. Set the coffee grounds on fire until the lighter fluid burns off and the coffee is burning. Now quickly smother the fire, make sure the fire is out completely–but the grounds are still smoldering. Immediately place the pie plate with the smoking grounds in the fridge and close the door. Do not leave unattended for several hours until you are 100% positive there is no chance for the fire to start up again.
  • Leave sealed for several days, then rinse the inside with vinegar and water to remove the smoke residue.

The hamburger/camper trailer thing up above? That’s a true story. Eyes watering, gagging, foulness like you wouldn’t believe. Check your campers and the little fridge thoroughly before locking up for any length of time ;).

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Published: March 20, 2007

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4 Comments to “Nasty Smell: It’s Like Something Crawled In & Died”
  1. Elegant Kitchen Blog says:

    I find throwing baking soda around and letting it sit for a while works wonders too! It doesn’t hurt to have baking soda in addition to the vinegar.

    The fire method sparks my curiosity…I might try that next time.

  2. sharla says:

    My husband was going to bake a salmon in our oven, but first it had to defrost. So in a pan it sat for 5 days, before I opened the oven door to cook that nights dinner (Didn’t smell a thing because we have an excellent oven that is air tight). Needless to say, we ate out that night. So that night I made a box of ginger bread. I didn’t add the eggs, but added the oil and extra cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and vanilla. Cooked at very low temp for 4 or 5 hours. No trace of the salmon was left. DO NOT EAT THE GINGER BREAD! Throw it out.

  3. Wayne says:

    What I’ve done is mix Ammonia with HOT soapy water in a container appropriately sized for the area needed to deodorize.
    Mix the Ammonia with the HOT soapy water and place in the area you want cleaned. Start smaller and work toward the larger areas. Let the strong ammonia and soap fumigate the area for as long as you can get away with. If needed, replace the mixture when needed. I’ve had real good luck with this in ridding items of odors. For example… I bought an old antique chair that smelled of mildew and just disgusting. I placed it in a closet and placed the mixture on the floor underneath the taller chair…then close the door.
    In a day, it had no odor remaining. Good luck.

  4. Bridie says:

    Do you think this would work for a large canvas camper awning/annex. (it really smells old and musty)I do have an outside shed where i could do this but there are lots of other things in there too,gardening equipment,tools ,all sorts that usually get banished to the shed,Any advice please.


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