Searching for the Schtank. (Identifying the Nasty Smell in My Fridge)

What Stinks in Here title at

I’d known there was a problem.

I started knowing when I got a whiff one day as I dug through my fridge.

I continued knowing when the same kind of whiff happened every time I opened it.

I knew something had to be done when I was in the living room and realized someone had opened the fridge because I could smell that same smell.

Seriously. It was actually that bad.

But y’all, since the fridge looked like this, my searches for the Schtank kept proving futile:

stinky frig at

It was time for a full-on fridge clean out.

I dragged over the trash can and started pulling stuff out.

I really hate wasting food. Sometimes, I hate wasting food so much that I keep it long after it will/can ever be eaten. (Which is wasting food!) I have to make myself stop and be realistic. Even if something might be OK, if I continually pass it by because I’m concerned it might not be OK, I need to purge it. Might not usually wins, and food we’re never actually going to eat is clutter.


  1. Chicken broth I’d used half of back in December. It might be ok. But I’d just that week used bullion when I needed chicken broth because I wasn’t absolutely sure it was. It needed to go.
  2. Fat. I’m sure I had great intentions of doing something with this when i carefully poured it into a jar and placed it in the fridge. I just don’t remember what those intentions were or even when it was that I felt those resourceful feelings. If I can’t remember, it has probably been a long, bacteria-producing time ago.
  3. Lemon juice which expired almost four months ago. I tell myself not to buy the big bottles of lemon juice because I never, ever use it all before it expires. I also tell myself that it’s better to buy lemon juice because I never think to buy actual lemons when I need lemon juice. I ALSO tell myself that lemon juice is probably fine past its expiration date (since it’s an acid and everything), but I had just made, much to my kids’ chagrin, lemon-juiceless guacamole that week because I was paranoid that it was too far past the date. I poured it out.
  4. And finally, at the very back of the fridge, was something unidentifiable. I blamed it for the schtank and threw it in the trash without even opening the container.

And then, since I was already invested in this job, I went all the way and started pulling out shelves to wash.

Washing Refrigerator Shelf before during after at

At that point, I was sure the smell had been taken care of, even though I hadn’t positively identified what the problem was. So I kept going, and cleaned out my middle drawer (it’s between the fridge and the bottom-freezer).

I know. Normal people wouldn’t even think of not completing this task all the way (if their fridges ever got this bad). But I thought it. I totally thought it.

Middle Drawer and AFTER frig at

And here it was after I was done.

The smell is gone. Whew.

Don’t worry. The trash went out to the garage until trash day!

What's that Smell Identifying the Nasty Smell in My Frig at

--Nony get-how-to-manage-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-wherever-books-are-sold


  1. 1

    I had the same problem, and first I accused the cat of putting his past-the-date mice in the fridge !
    But it was the drain : when I looked at it, it was full of rotten leaves and water !
    So I had to apologize to the cat

  2. 2
    Penelope says:

    Good for you for doing the drawer! I totally would have quit after the identification was probable. And only would have cleaned the shelf that’s been sticky for a month (and done that with it in the fridge since I don’t know how to take out my shelves.)
    Good work!

  3. 3
    JenniferP says:

    One habit I finally got into is to write with a Sharpie on the lid of an open can or bottle the date I opened it. This helps when I go through the fridge and eliminated guessing when it was opened. HTH, and your fridge looks great!

  4. 4

    Oh, I’ve got a little jar of bacon fat at the back of my fridge that I keep wondering if I should toss. Thank you for telling me yes!

  5. 5

    OK, this is one I need to tackle–I must say I have been there, done that, many times, but I still need to clean those shelves. And the sides! Somehow I have brown goo running down one side of the fridge, and a huge puddle of more (multi-colored, this time) dried goo covering the bottom of the fridge underneath the produce drawrs. Then there’s the freezer part. . . .

  6. 6

    The best thing I have done to keep my fridge tidy is to label all the shelves and drawers and compartments. When you label things, you don’t have to think to interpret what’s there, and you don’t have to think when you’re ready to put something away. You’re holding the milk, and you put it on the dairy shelf or the drink shelf, whichever you’ve designated.

    I took 2 1/2 x 3 inch rectangles of pretty scrapbook paper, wrote “condiments,” “eggs,” “meat and cheese,” “dairy,” “leftovers,” etc, on them, and used packing tape to tape them to clean, dry bins and shelves.

    And when other people open your fridge, they’ll think you’re really organized, when all it is self-defense because organization doesn’t happen automatically for you.

  7. 7

    When I [reluctantly] decide I can’t put off cleaning the fridge any longer, I put the shelves and [toughened] plastic salad compartments etc into the dishwasher, By the time I’ve sorted the chuck-able food and wiped down the inside of the fridge, the quick cycle is done, the shelves and door holders etc are dry, and everything can go back into a sparkling fridge. BTW, I have a de-mountable water dispenser in the door that also goes through the dishwasher – all much more hygienic to my mind than immersing in hand-heat hot soapy water where the bugs say yippee and multiply accordingly…

  8. 8

    Expired lemonjuice can be used to clean out the coffee and teastains in your cups. It can even be used to clean stains in the sink.
    So next time it get old use it to clean. Thats what I do. Mine gets expired every time I buy it for my tea. I must drink more tea!

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