Freezer nastiness

I’m using the kitchen of a recently closed restaurant to produce confections and desserts for my business. I made the mistake yesterday of opening a freezer that I noticed had been unplugged, to see if there was anything in it. Just a puddle of rotting, fermenting sludge in the bottom that I wish I could un-smell. I plugged it back in to hopefully slow any further decay before someone gets around to cleaning it.

Do you think if I held my breath and threw a bunch of baking soda on the sludge it would help the issue, or just make a bigger mess? I’m not worried about corrosion, they used to keep rock salt in there for oysters. I don’t want to be the one to clean it because it’s not my freezer and I didn’t unplug it in the first place, but I also want to minimize the smell coming from that corner of the kitchen.

Is baking soda worth a shot or just a bigger mess?

I wouldn’t bother with the baking soda but I would wonder what other sanitation was overlooked. What says the health department?

I would think bleach is what you need, after you hose it out and sweep the mess out the back door to the garbage area of course. Can you speak to whoever’s name is on the lease, rather than do it yourself? If you’re paying for the place, you should have a bit of clout.


I have no intention of cleaning it out, I just want to neutralize the smell. The owner is transitioning the place to an event space, the kitchen is fine otherwise, I’m sure it was a mistake that this freezer got unplugged. Product had all been taken out, but ice cream drips happen, so when it defrosted there was food for decay.

It’s clean enough otherwise and I sanitize. Just an appliance that got unplugged.

Just leave it plugged in then, I guess.

1 Like

After asking the owner. If it’s unplugged because it was malfunctioning, you could cause more damage.

1 Like

I had a freezer die when we were away for quite a while. Full of lots of meat. I emptied it gagging with every piece. I’d put something in a garbage bag, spray with Lysol. Repeat. It was vile. I’d just leave it be. Shiver.

1 Like

I found a box of baking soda and threw it in there. Wasn’t actually that much “sludge” in the bottom, just enough liquid mixed with remnants of ice cream past to get pretty funky, sort of winy and cheesy at the same time but not in a good way. I think the grease trap, rotten potatoes, and your dead freezer probably smell worse, but if they ever want to keep food in this unit again, I hope the baking soda works!

I noticed it was unplugged again, either someone is trying to save energy, a circuit is overloaded, or one of the kids has a school science project. The pound of baking soda didn’t do much against the pungency. Oh well, not my problem!

Help cover Hungry Onion's costs when you shop at Amazon!

Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr