What A Horrible Smell: Like Something Crawled In & Died!

Here is a selection of tips I’ve collected over the years to get rid of really, really nasty smells.

Things like the fridge dying while you’re away for a number of weeks and you come back to rancid food that was sitting inside it the whole time.

Or the camper trailer had a long forgotten package of hamburger left in it during the off season and was only discovered months later when you were packing for a trip.

Oh yes. That rank, that foul.

How To Get Started

The first thing to do is thoroughly wash the area or appliance inside and out. Use the strongest cleaner possible without damaging the surface. Take out whatever can be removed and scrub it all piece by piece.

If the smell is so bad you’re gagging (and you probably will be), wear a mask and have plenty of fresh air breaks. No mask? I keep a couple dollar store scarves stashed in my closet for weird jobs just like this. You never know when you need to wrap up!

Once the cleaning is finished, the odor probably is still quite strong. Try one of the following procedures. If it doesn’t work, try a different technique until the stank has disappeared. Process will surely last several days.

How To Get Rid Of The Foul Odor

Method #1

  • Fill an empty ice cream pail half full with regular bbq charcoal briquettes and cover completely with vinegar.
  • Close the lid and leave sit for about 10 minutes for the vinegar to soak into each briquette.
  • After 10 minutes arrange briquettes on a foil baking tray or even in another bucket.
  • Set in the space that stinks.

If the troubled location is a large room, position a few buckets around the room. Shut tight by closing the doors and windows and leave alone for at least 24 hours, longer may be needed depending on the size of the space.

If the stink still lingers, repeat the process.

Method #2

  • Generously sprinkle fresh coffee grounds on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator.
  • If it’s a larger area, arrange a few trays throughout.
  • Also take a bunch of crumpled sheets of newspapers and stuff into a pail. Douse the paper in vinegar and put the pail into the space you’re trying to “de-stink”.
  • Seal the refrigerator or room for about a week.

Method #3 – For the Desperate

Be Smart! Caution required.

  • Fill a foil pie tin with coffee grounds. Sprinkle a small amount of bbq lighter fluid over them.
  • Set this on fire, wait for the lighter fluid to burn off and the coffee starts burning.
  • Now quickly smother it, make sure the fire is out completely–but the grounds are still smoldering.
  • Immediately place the pie plate containing the smoking bits in the fridge and close the door.
  • Do not leave unattended for several hours until you are 100% positive there is no chance for flames to ignite again.

Keep sealed for several days, then rinse inside with vinegar and water to remove the smoke residue.

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

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    • Elegant Kitchen Blog

    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.

    • sharla

    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.

    • Wayne

    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.

    • Bridie

    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.

    • Isolde

    My elderly mother lives with us and one day she forgot about the egg she was boiling. I lifted the lid on the saucepan and the burnt egg exploded all over the walls, ceiling, oven, ect.. I tried to get it all, but 2 days later it smelled so rancid. I scrubbed everything with vinegar, then bleach, and several other solutions. Nothing worked until I took a tip from a crime scene cleanup employee-I know, kind of freaky-. He said to fill up a glass with Listerine and leave it overnight. Wow, it totally worked.You can use that tip for any nasty, lingering smell.

    • Optimum RV

    I like the BBQ Coal technique since we seem to always have an abundance of this when we go camping in Florida because it is nice enough to have a fire year round.

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