Got a freezer smelling worse than a fishmonger’s garbage can? By using the tips in this article, you’ll be able to get your freezer back to smelling like a fresh spring morning. (Okay, maybe just a normal freezer)

If your freezer is smelling of fish, you’ll need to defrost it in order to clean it. Remove all the food (have a sniff to check for the fishy culprit), let it defrost, then scrub down each part of the freezer. You can also use odor absorbents to help clear up any remaining scents.

That’s the quick answer, but there’s more to it than that.Ready to have a great smelling freezer again? Then let’s dive straight in.

Things You’ll Need

  • bleach
  • baking soda
  • bucket
  • cat litter or activated charcoal
  • bowl
  • sponge

Cleaning A Fish-Smelling Freezer: Step By Step

To get your freezer smelling like the day you bought it, you’ll need to take some steps in order to clean and absorb all those foul smells.

Step #1 Empty Your Freezer

First step is to take all the food out of your freezer. You want to remove any food that could cause a bad smell in the first place.

Empty Freezer
Remove all food inside the freezer to identify the spoiled item causing the bad smell

You’ll want to buy some freezer bags or have a backup in place for putting your food away. You don’t want it to spoil or go up in temp, which could cause food spoilage.

Examine all your old food for open bags or spoiling food that you haven’t noticed. Toss away all the bad food so that it doesn’t continue to stink up your freezer. This entire process of cleaning and getting rid of the bad smell could take a couple of days.

You’ll want to make sure you have a plan in place for all the items that need to go back to the freezer. Don’t just leave them in the fridge because it won’t be cold enough for your food to stay good.

Step #2 Wash the Shelving

Once all the food is out, you can take off all the shelving pieces. They have probably absorbed some of the odor and need to be fully sanitized before putting them back into the freezer.

You’ll want to create a washing station where one side of your sink is full of hot, soapy water and the other side is clear. You’ll want to soak your shelves for about 15 minutes to loosen up any debris that may be sticking to your shelves. After soaking, go ahead and give each shelving unit a nice rinse with some clear water. This will get off all the suds.

Let your shelves air dry till there is no more water. You’ll put the shelving back in once you go through all of step 3.

Step #3 Defrost the Freezer and Clean

defrost and clean the freezer
Defrost and prepare to clean your freezer

Your third step is to defrost the entire freezer so you can prep it for cleaning. This might take a few hours before you’re able to get it completely defrosted. Once there is no more frost on the sides of your freezer, you can start the cleaning process.

You’ll want to leave the door completely open during this process for at least a day or two.

Grab yourself a bucket with one gallon of water for every tablespoon of bleach. Get yourself a sponge and start applying the cleaning mixture to the sides, top, and bottom of the freezer. Scrub out the entire inside while also getting the seams in the door of the freezer. This is where some food and debris can get caught and end up spoiling.

You should allow your freezer to dry out for a day or two to allow for all the liquid to evaporate.

After your freezer is completely done drying, you can go ahead and put all the shelving back into place.

Step #4 Absorb Odors

Cleaning your freezer doesn’t mean it will automatically stop smelling. Of course, this is the best-case scenario. If your freezer no longer smells, then a good cleaning is all it needed. But more likely, there are still some smells emanating from the freezer.

When that happens, you still have an option to get rid of the smell.

You’ll need to use an absorbent of some kind to help soak up all the bad smells and remove them from your freezer. Baking soda, cat litter, or activated charcoal are all great absorbents for smells.

With your shelving in place, put a bowl of absorbent in your freezer. Let it stand in there for a day or two while the freezer is on. Make sure there isn’t any food inside your freezer when the absorbent is in there. After continual use for a couple of days, the smells should dissipate.

Your local grocery store should also have products that are specifically designed for absorbing odors in a fridge or freezer.

There are a few other DIY methods you can try too. Coffee grounds are a great way to soak up faint smells. You could put the grounds on a cookie sheet and place it in your freezer. Run it for a couple of days without food and it should help tremendously.

The last method you could use is uncommon. Take your old newspapers and crumple them up and place a page on each shelving unit. Sprinkle some water on your newspaper or keep a cup of water nearby. After about a week, you’ll notice your strong odors go away.

Step #5 Turn on and Fill Up Your Freezer

Once you have followed all the steps, your smell should be completely gone. It’s safe to put all your freezer food back onto the shelves again.

You might want to go ahead and keep an absorbent in the freezer so that it can pick up bad smells before they get worse.

If you go through all the steps above and still have a bad smell, it’s time to call a professional. What likely happened is the smell moved on into the insulation. Once the insulation soaks up the smell, you’ll need a professional to help you replace it.

This can be costly and take up some time, so have a backup for your freezer items. They may need to be stored somewhere else till you can get the problem fixed.


Why does my freezer smell so bad?

There are a couple of reasons why your freezer might have a bad odor. If you have been storing spoiled food in the freezer, it will start to smell and there’s not much that can be done about that.

Otherwise, if your freezer smells like fish, it means that either something spilled inside the freezer or there was a leak from the pipes.

Why does my freezer smell even after I’ve cleaned it?

If the bad smell, which is most likely coming from your freezer, is not coming from food items that have spoiled, then the issue could be trapped in your insulation. The problem of a continual bad smell can become very expensive to try and find out why it’s happening.

When you cannot determine where the smell is coming from, call an engineer to inspect your unit. Insulation needs to be replaced when it becomes saturated with foul odors continuously.

How does baking soda get rid of bad smells?

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate, is a chemical compound with the chemical formula NaHCO3. It is a white crystalline powder that reacts in water to create carbon dioxide, which leaches odor out of objects.

It does this by drawing in moisture from the air when placed on an object and then attracting bad odor molecules before they can sink into fabric fibers.

It’s important to note that baking soda is not meant for consumption – rather use it only in the case of your refrigerator or freezer becoming smelly – never put it directly inside your mouth!

Getting Rid of Bad Freezer Smells

You can get rid of bad smells in your freezer all by yourself. It might just take a while. You can use absorbents to soak up the bad smells. You can also give your fridge a good cleaning to get rid of spoiled or old food debris.

Thanks a lot for reading and if you didn’t get your answer solved in this article, try out one of our related articles below.