How to Control Odors Coming from Your Commercial Refrigerator

How to Control Odors Coming from Your Commercial Refrigerator

It’s not uncommon for a commercial refrigerator to develop an unpleasant odor, especially if it’s being used to store items like milk, which can cause all sorts of problems if they leak. Smells can develop naturally over time due to debris and spills, although smells often indicate that bacteria or mold has begun to grow in your refrigerator.

Although commercial refrigerator manufacturers try to minimize odors in their units as much as possible, there is still some essential maintenance work that can be carried out in order to control unpleasant odors in your refrigerator.

The Root of the Problem

Odors can become trapped inside the walls and flooring of a unit. If this happens, the only solution is a thorough cleaning to remove the source of the odors. Over time, bacteria can multiply, making the smells more unpleasant.

Cleaning Suggestions

The walk-in cooler or walk-in freezer should be completely emptied of its contents. Once empty, shelves and bins should be removed. A cleaner can then be made from household items. One teaspoon of baking soda mixed with one cup of white vinegar sprayed liberally over the inside surfaces should do the trick. The surfaces should be wiped immediately after being sprayed. If baking soda and white vinegar are not available, a mixture of chlorine bleach and one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent will also remove bacteria and related odors. This solution should be allowed to dry before wiping down.


A medium-size bowl of charcoal briquettes placed inside a walk-in cooler or walk-in freezer for a week will effectively absorb odors. The briquettes should be replaced once during the week to keep them fresh. Products designed for removing pet odors may also be effective for removing odors.

With use, a unit may develop odors. Fast action can alleviate this issue and keep food safe.

Clean Your Commercial Refrigerator with Soap and Water

A thorough clean-out and clean-up is inevitably the best way to ensure that your refrigerator is free from mold, spillages, and bacteria. Empty all the stock into another refrigerator or temperature-controlled area (if possible), and use warm soapy water to clean out your refrigerator effectively. Some commercial refrigerator manufacturers may recommend abrasive chemicals, but these can wreak havoc on the construction of the unit over time.

How to Use Baking Soda and White Vinegar to Clean Your Commercial Refrigerator

Although you may have to stomach the smell of vinegar for a day or two, this concoction is great for cleaning appliances and removing unpleasant smells. After spraying this onto your empty unit, be sure to wipe it off quickly and allow it to air-dry for a while with the door open.






How Charcoal Briquettes Can Clean Your Refrigerator

Many manufacturers recommend placing a bowl of charcoal briquettes inside your unit as a means of absorbing any lingering odors. Coffee grounds and baking soda can also be used as a substitute, eliminating any pesky odors.



Clean with a 5% bleach solution

A 5% bleach solution can be used to wet the interior of the unit, but clean it out with soap and water shortly after. The bleach effectively kills the bacteria, which may be responsible for any smells. You shouldn’t leave bleach in the unit too long, or it will produce metal spots on your refrigerator.






 The Smell Could be Coming from Your Interior Coil

If a bad smell persists after cleaning the unit’s main storage area, then the internal coil may be the culprit. An ongoing smell may indicate that a moist coil has begun growing mold, causing the odor. Unplug the unit and remove the cover for the coil, cleaning the interior carefully with soap and water while avoiding any electronics. Then, use a UV sterilizing kit to kill the last of the coil’s mold. You can potentially clean the coil with a 5% bleach solution, though this is not recommended. Compressed air can also be used in certain circumstances for dispersing mold and other dust or debris.

The best response when you notice an odor in your cooler is to begin a complete cleanout and clean up. Empty all inventory out into another temperature regulated area if possible. Remove all shelves and storage bins or containers from the walk-in as well. A simple soap and water cleaner is sufficient for cleaning your walk-in – harsh chemicals can be too abrasive and damage the surface of your walk-in. Baking soda and white vinegar can also be used as a cleaner since vinegar is great at combating odor and mildew.  Wipe off surfaces immediately after spraying regardless of which cleaning combination you decide to use. Allow all surfaces to dry fully before placing items back into your walk-in. The drying process also allows your walk-in to air out for a little while.

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