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Removing odors from kitchen appliances

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Odors in kitchen appliances can happen from normal use, from malfunctioning appliances or as the result of a lengthy power outage. Most appliance odors can be removed using common products found in kitchens. Here are some tips for removing those stubborn odors.

Microwave.

Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 cup water in a microwavable bowl. Heat the mixture for 5 minutes and then wipe out the microwave. This procedure may need to be repeated two or three times a day for a few days if the odor is strong.

Refrigerator.

If odor gets into the plastic lining or the insulation of the refrigerator, it can take a long time to dissipate. There are several techniques which may help.

1. Unplug the refrigerator and thoroughly wash the inside with a mixture of two tablespoons baking soda dissolved in one quart of warm water. Wash the shelves, drawers, accessories and gaskets. Be sure to scrub corners, crevices or grooves where odor-causing liquid may have settled. Dry thoroughly.

2. Place activated charcoal or activated carbon in a shallow bowl and leave it in the refrigerator while it is running for several days. The charcoal or carbon is available where aquarium and/or plant and garden supplies are sold. It will become saturated but can be reactivated by heating in a 300 degree oven for one hour and then put back into the refrigerator. Try this for about 10 days.

3. Place toothpaste (not the gel type) on small pieces of foil and set in several spots in the refrigerator.

4. Lightly crumple sheets of newspaper and loosely pack a refrigerator shelf which has been emptied of food. Sprinkle the newspaper with water and close the door. Replace the newspaper every one to two days. In five to six days the odor should be gone.

Freezer.

Try the same methods as for a refrigerator. Activated charcoal or baking soda can be poured onto jelly roll pans and placed in the freezer in two or more areas.

If these methods do not remove the odor, wet drippings may have seeped into the freezer's insulation. This problem requires service by a technician who may have to remove and replace the insulation.

Dishwasher.

Regularly using a lemon-scented detergent and/or rinse agent may help keep odors from developing. Another option is to fill the detergent cup with baking soda. Select a short wash or run a wash cycle for five minutes. Unlatch the door to stop the dishwasher. Let stand overnight. In the morning, latch the door to restart the dishwasher and let the cycle finish. If odors persist, select a light wash cycle and allow the dishwasher to fill. When it is filled, open the door and add 1/4 cup liquid chlorine bleach to the water. Close the door and allow the cycle to finish.

Sink Drain.

Combine 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt and 1 tablespoon cream of tartar and pour into the drain. Slowly add 1/2 cup white vinegar and then slowly pour in 1 cup boiling water. Allow to stand; then flush with cold water.

(Information taken from Iowa State University Extension and The Answer Book by Maytag/Jenn-Air.)

Ann Ludlum
FCS Agent, Southwind District
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Southwind District -- Fort Scott office. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or aludlum@ksu.edu.