Sanitizing Refrigerators and Freezers

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If water seeps into an older model refrigerator or freezer, it will probably lost its insulation and have to be discarded. Appliances with ruined insulation will run continuously, frost up on the outside or develop bad odors.

Newer models with foam insulation will probably be all right. Have the refrigerator or freezer checked by your local serviceman to be certain the motor and freezing unit are in safe working order. Then clean and sanitize as follows:
  • Dispose of any spoiled or questionable food.
  • Remove shelves, crispers and ice trays. Wash them thoroughly with hot water and detergent.
  • Rinse with a disinfectant solution (1 teaspoon chlorine bleach foreach gallon of water.)
  • Wash the interior of the refrigerator, including the door and door gasket, with hot water and baking soda.
  • Rinse with disinfectant solution.
  • Leave the door open for about 15 minutes to allow free air circulation.
  • If the odor remains, place several pieces of activated charcoal in an open container, or use a commercial refrigerator deodorizer.
  • Wash the outside of the refrigerator with a mild detergent and hot water.

If stains are difficult to remove or soil particles remain, use a mild cleanser or spray cleaner. Be careful not to damage the finish.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) additional information:  Click Here