Q: I had anise bread in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator in my garage. The freezer stopped working when it got cold, and the bread thawed. Now I can’t get the anise odor out of the refrigerator and freezer. Do you have any suggestions?
A: I assume you’ve already cleaned the refrigerator and freezer, but you may need to clean them a few times. Be sure to clean everything, including shelves, drawers, gaskets, the drain tube, the drip pan and all the little crevices.
If the odor remains, you can try a strong deodorizing product such as Smells BeGone spray or Odors Away. Check bedding, hardware and hospital supply stores, or online.
Placing containers of clean cat litter, unused coffee grounds or a few ounces of imitation vanilla (not real vanilla extract) in the refrigerator and freezer may also absorb the odor.
Or try this method recommended by Claudette Reichel, an extension housing specialist with Louisiana State University: Empty the fridge and run it for a couple of days with nothing but a shallow pan of activated charcoal in it. (I’d put a pan in the refrigerator section and one in the freezer compartment.) If you can, reactivate the charcoal every six to eight hours by heating it in a 350-degree oven until it’s hot.
Another method, recommended by the Michigan State University Extension, is to pack the refrigerator and freezer with crumpled newspaper. Set a cup of water on the top shelf, or sprinkle the newspaper lightly with water. Let the refrigerator run for five or six days.
If those measures still don’t work, the plastic of the freezer’s interior walls may have absorbed the odor.
Warm the walls with a hair dryer, hot-air popcorn popper or portable convection heater that blows warm air. Don’t leave the heater unattended or use a device that gets so hot it could damage the walls.
Once the walls are warm, turn off the heat and ventilate with a portable fan until they’re cool.
Repeat the process for several hours until the smell is almost gone. Then you can try absorbing the rest of the odor with activated charcoal.