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Cleaning the fridge
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Cleaning the fridge

Cleaning the fridge
Vincent Sparaco, 86, of Lake Worth cleans out his refrigerator following Hurricane Frances in 2004. (Greg Lovett / The Post)

Cleaning the fridge

Here’s how to do the deep cleaning and deodorizing needed to eliminate foul odors in the refrigerator or freezer:

You will need to clean deep to remove old food left behind and odor-causing bacteria lodged in the refrigerator’s fan, rubber seal, and air ducts.

Unplug the refrigerator again if the power’s back on. Don your rubber gloves and really clean it.

Remove every part of the fridge and freezer that’s removable — shelves, door trays, drawers and their gaskets and the drip pan under the refrigerator. Wash with pure soapy hot water; let air dry if possible.

For stuck-on food residue, use baking soda paste and water to scrub. Rinse with a 50/50 vinegar-water mix.

Scrub the interior of the unit, and include the gasket around the door, shelf and drawer gaskets and posts, using soapy water.

For a mild, stuffy odor, use a 50/50 vinegar-water solution to swab down the entire interior of the unit.

If you do not have power, prop open the doors; don’t seal it until you have power.

If the power is on again, close it, stuffed with the newspapers and with a shallow pan of vinegar on the bottom of the unit (put another in the freezer compartment). Leave for 12 hours, running, and then remove the newspapers and sniff again. If needed, repeat.

If a slight odor still remains in the freezer or fridge, lay newspaper on the bottom. Sprinkle unbrewed coffee grounds on the newspaper. Seal up the unit again, and check it after 12 hours.

If that still hasn’t worked, scrub the interior with a water-bleach solution (1 tablespoon household bleach to 1 gallon of water).

Use a spray bottle around the gaskets. If you have a drain in the freezer, pour 1/2 cup of this into it.

Rinse well with clear water, then do the vinegar scrub as above. Before sealing, set a plate of activated charcoal (used in aquariums) in the bottom of the unit. Leave for 12 hours and check again.

For particularly offensive odors (fish or spoiled meats), these procedures may need to be repeated up to three times before the smell is entirely gone.

NEVER USE: Toilet deodorizers, moth balls or flakes, laundry deodorizers, carpet deodorizers, pet deodorizers and other products that are not made to come in contact with food.

Kitchen flooding cleanup

Photograph the damage for insurance.

Throw out all food packages that were wet.

Wash unopened jars and cans in a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 2 gallons water. Dry thoroughly; label with permanent marker.

Do not plug in any electrical appliances that were wet — they are a fire hazard.

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