How to Manage Odors in Your Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

cleaning odors

Do you scrunch your nose every time you enter your walk-in cooler? Are your employees bothered by pungent odors that make their jobs difficult? If your walk-in freezer has lingering odors, you have a severe problem with your commercial walk-in coolers. But all is not lost.

If you give your units the necessary attention and proper maintenance they deserve, you can eliminate odors from your walk-in cooler and freezer.

What Can Cause Odors?

Your commercial refrigerator can develop odors from spoiled food, mold, and chemicals. In most cases, you have spoiled food in the unit hidden somewhere in the back. Although it’s annoying to deal with, it’s easy to take care of it.

If your unit has mold, it’s an issue for your employees and consumers. Mold can hide anywhere, which makes it difficult to find. Although you might think chemicals are the best way to solve an odor problem, harsh chemicals can destroy protective layering in refrigeration units manufacturers use to keep food cold. So your food gets warm and spoils.

How to Maintain Your Unit

Regardless of what’s causing the odor, you must find the cause and address the problem–an odor only gets worse if left alone.

woman smell

Here are industry-wide steps to follow to eliminate odors in your units:

  1. Empty the unit and look for expired food.
  2. Whether or not you find expired food, give your walk-in cooler a thorough cleaning with warm soap and water, remove any food residue. Make sure you clean every surface–behind shelves, under shelves, the floor, and tight corners.
  3. Wipe down the surfaces and allow the unit to air dry with the door open.
  4. Once dry, use a food-grade disinfectant to kill any bacteria. Repeat the air-drying process.
  5. Put your food back in the unit.
  6. Use charcoal briquettes, baking soda, or fresh coffee grounds to effectively absorb odors.

charcoal briquettes

This process should work for eliminating odors. However, there are times when the smell persists. If this happens to you, you might have mold within the unit.

Mold will collect around the condenser coil and emit a pungent smell over time. To prevent this in your commercial refrigerator, clean your condenser coil and other unit fixtures twice a year.


Food odors happen from time to time. The best way to limit odors is to take the necessary precautions–routinely check expiration dates and clean your unit. However, sometimes the problem is more profound and requires strenuous work. Instead of being discouraged by the amount of work, contact PGS.

We handle all kinds of small parts repair and service because we know the little things get in the way. So to help you keep your business running, we take care of these headaches for you.