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I've been struggling for a few days with the cleaning of a fridge that was left off for a few weeks with raw chiken meat in the freezer compartment. When I found it, the meat had turned liquid with the smell you'd expect, spread in the entire fridge. I started cleaning thoroughly with bleach with little effect and then vinegar after stumbling on this piece of advice. But there is still a noticeable smell lingering.

My question is then: Is it possible that the plastic of the fridge has absorbed the cadaverine and/or putrecine that I assume are responsible for the smell? And if so will any amount of vinegar (or some other household acid) be able to remove the remaining smell?

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  • $\begingroup$ Possible, but I'd guess that the fridge has some "internal" air channels that you can't clean. Also it would seem likely that liquid has seeped under the plastic liner. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Aug 23 '17 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ My fridge is fairly small and basic: there's no active air circulation and the plastic is a single molded piece with only two holes for the cooling element at the very top that couldn't be reached by the liquid. I'll try to plug those holes to see if it makes any difference. $\endgroup$ – jadsq Aug 24 '17 at 2:55
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Yes, the odor does penetrate the plastic a bit. First,clean again with bleach (sodium hypochlorite, $\ce{NaClO}$ solution), disassembling some of the interior of the freezer, in particular. Use caution, because bleach can damage skin, clothing and flooring, as well as any aluminum parts left in contact. This will, hopefully, remove some of the really nasty microorganisms left by rotting poultry.

Then scrub multiple times with a thick slurry of baking soda ($\ce{NaHCO3}$) in water. The $\ce{NaHCO3}$ acts as a mild abrasive and it adsorbs or reacts with many organic odorants.

Next, leave the refrigerator off and open with a fan blowing through for as long as practicable... preferably outside.

When done, leave a thin layer of fresh $\ce{NaHCO3}$ on shelves and/or put a bit of it in a plastic bowl to help get rid of the odor as the surfaces outgas.

As the fridge chills down, the odor will decrease, but I'd store foods in closed containers to avoid absorbing any remaining odors.

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I recommend you to put a large amount of activated charcoal into the fridge and left it several days. If you've still sensed the smell, replace the old activated charcoal with the new one. I hope it help you get rid of the smell.

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  • $\begingroup$ That was the next thing I planned, I'll report as soon as I get my hand on this ! $\endgroup$ – jadsq Aug 24 '17 at 2:58

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