Picture this – you’ve just packed for your next camping trip, and your family is loading into the camper. Everyone is happy, smiling and having fun! That is, until you climb in and realize that something smells rotten. Chances are that the funky smell is coming from your camper freezer, and now everyone is playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to figure out who gets the unpleasant task of dealing with it before you can hit the road.
If you have encountered this issue before, you know that it isn’t exactly easy to erase that odor. You may have tried every tip and trick you could think of to no avail. Today, you are finally going to learn how to get rid of that stench for good! What was once a dreaded task could be over in a few simple steps, so stick around.
Why Does the Camper Freezer Smell Bad?
This is the first question you should be asking yourself. If we are going to get to the bottom of this, you have to know the root cause before. Go over each of these potential reasons and think about what most closely resembles your dilemma:
- You left some food in your camper freezer after the last trip. You forgot the leftover shrimp from the kebabs, you never prepared those steaks you wanted, etc. – whatever the reason, there is rotten meat or other perishable food in there, and you have to get rid of it.
- You didn’t air it out after coming home the last time. You should always leave your camper freezer doors open for a while after coming home to air things out. It helps with any residual smells next time.
- You haven’t had your freezer deep cleaned in a while. Even if you clean out the food consistently, your camper freezer still needs a little extra TLC.
The First Steps to Cleaning Your Camper Freezer
Once you have determined the cause of the rotten smell, it’s time to get to work. It’s not quite time to scrub everything yet; that’s coming soon. First, you have to:
- Clean out every bit of food that was left in your camper freezer the last time. This includes any condiments, even if they are in jars. You should leave nothing in there; take it all inside every time you return from a trip.
- Take apart your freezer. Yes, that means all shelves, drip pans, etc. Once you have every piece separated out, you will have an easier time cleaning and making sure that everything is sparkling when you leave.
Cleaning Out Your Camper Freezer
When it comes to cleaning smells out of your camper freezer, the process is not too complicated. Here’s what you will need in order to do the best job possible:
- Hot, soapy water
- Cool water
- Baking soda
- Paper towels/rags
Once you have prepared your camper freezer for proper cleaning, it’s time to get down to business.
You should use hot, soapy water (with one tbsp. of bleach per gallon) and a gentle sponge to scrub all parts of the freezer. Rinse these parts in cool water and repeat until everything is cleaned to the best of your ability! Refresh the water as needed so you are not scrubbing your freezer with unsanitary material.
On your last pass of your freezer, use a solution of one cup baking soda to one gallon of water to wash everything down. Wait until it dries, and then rinse the parts again. The baking soda will absorb a lot of those stubborn odor-causing messes, which should leave you with a fresh and clean camper freezer after everything dries for the last time.
Keeping the Smell Out of Your Camper Freezer
After you have thoroughly cleaned your freezer, you may think that your job is done. Nope! If you want it to stay fresh and free of any unsavory rotting odors, there are still some things that you should do; don’t worry, it’s worth the effort! We’re going to talk about some methods that will keep the smell from coming back in the coming days.
White vinegar is a common culinary and cleaning item. You probably have some in your house right now! Part of the magic of this stuff is that it keeps unpleasant smells away. For this method, you need:
- A spray bottle
- White vinegar
- A paper towel
Simply mix a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar in the bottle, spray down the interior of your camper freezer, and wipe it down with a paper towel. This should minimize any lingering odors.
- Coffee Grounds
Coffee drinkers can easily make use of this odor-eliminating method! If any rotten smells still linger in your camper freezer, here’s what you need to get rid of it using this easy trick:
- Coffee grounds (doesn’t matter what brand/flavor/etc.)
- A plate, bowl, or baking sheet
All you have to do is spread the grounds on the surface of your choosing and leave it in your camper freezer for a few days. The last of the bad smell should be gone, absorbed into the grounds. (Definitely, do not try to use these for a leftover cup tomorrow.)
The best part? Depending on how strong that coffee was, you may actually get a whiff of that pleasant aroma when you open the freezer for a few days in the future.
- Activated Charcoal
If you don’t want to buy a whole bag or canister of coffee grounds for one issue, then you have an easy alternative that works just as well for getting rid of bad smells in your camper freezer! Use the same exact method that you would for the coffee, but use activated charcoal powder instead.
You can buy it on Amazon for under $10, depending on the product that you pick. It isn’t quite as expensive as dumping out half a bag of Starbucks special roast.
If you are really strapped for cash, you can always use the newspaper you have lying around to get rid of the last bits of the rotten stench. Wet the pages a bit, ball them up, and throw them in your camper freezer. Within two days, these papers should have absorbed the remaining odors. Throw them away and everything should smell fresh again! If you need a little lasting power, a little lemon oil goes a long way to make your freezer smell nice.
How to Keep Your Camper Freezer Smelling Nice in the Future
Now that you have gone through this entire process, you likely don’t want to have to do it again for a long time. In the future, you should remember some of these tips in order to keep that dreaded rotten smell away for good.
- Clean out your freezer after every trip. Take out the jars, the meat, the fruit, and the milk. Take every food item out of there. Whether or not you keep it is up to you; just don’t leave anything behind.
- Give the freezer a little vinegar wipe down before and after the trip. This gets rid of any mild smells without having to deep clean again. It’s non-toxic and does not give off a strong odor itself, so what reason do you have not to do it?
- Air out your camper when you get home. Use a fan, keep the doors open, and lift those windows. Keep it like that for about an hour or two, and then you will be free to close it up until you are ready to hit the road again.
- Ensure that all of your food is locked up tight before, during, and after your camping trip. This prevents spills and slows down the process of rotting in your fruits, veggies, and meats.
- If anything spills, clean it up immediately. Fruit juice smells good now, but three days later, it won’t. It’s especially important if anything involving meat spills. It’s unsanitary as well as foul-smelling.
Sounds simple, right? That’s because it IS simple. Do these small things and you will not have to worry about disaster striking later.
If you find yourself smelling something rotten coming from your camper freezer, don’t sweat it. Yes, it’s unpleasant, but cleaning up the mess and getting rid of the smell is a lot easier than one would think. Most of the supplies you need will be in your home already, and anything that isn’t is just a quick hop to the grocery store away.