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Controlling Odor in Your Walk-In Refrigerator or Freezer

How many times have you walked into your commercial refrigerator or freezer and wondered, “What’s that funk?” Sometimes commercial walk-ins develop foul odors simply because of age or frequent use. But in most cases, if it smells bad, you have a problem.

The first step is to walk in and take a visual inventory. Best case, you’ll find a spill that has been left undetected. A simple cleanup and a bowl of charcoal briquettes, baking soda, or fresh ground coffee may be all it takes to bring your walk-in back to normal. Worst case, you have a bigger issue caused by germs and bacteria; one that could possibly contaminate your inventory.

If no spill is found, the best and safest thing you can do to remediate the odor is to perform a complete cleanout. If your walk-in is a couple years old, there may be an old spill that was cleaned up, but not completely. It may have seeped into the walls or flooring. To neutralize it, you’ll need to remove the entire contents of the walk-in freezer or walk-in refrigerator.  To protect your perishable inventory, be sure to move into a different climate controlled area. Remove all the shelves, storage bins and containers. Clean your walk in with a basic cleaner, no harsh chemicals.  Good, non-abrasive cleaning solutions include a simple soap and water, or baking soda and white vinegar. Baking soda and white vinegar have the added benefit of neutralizing odor and mildew. Whichever solution you choose, spray down the surfaces and wipe immediately. Spray and wipe down the shelving, bins and containers. Allow all surfaces to dry completely before bringing them back into the cooler. The drying process will give you a chance to air out your cooler before returning your inventory. As an additional precaution, check your inventory before putting it back in the fridge or freezer. Be sure to empty storage containers, discard spoiled inventory, and wash and dry the containers before filling them back up for storage.

Commercial walk-in coolers and freezers are a closed environment, so some odor is expected. Really bad smells or odors that linger after a complete cleanout are the ones you need to be concerned about. If you have concerns about your commercial walk-in refrigerator or freezer, call SRC Refrigeration at (800) 521-0398. We can investigate the source of the odor and determine if your cooler is malfunctioning and in need of repair. 

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