Eliminate those tough-to-handle odours

PLEASE can you help me get rid of a “bad” smell in my deep freezer? We came home from holiday and found it had defrosted, and contents smelt horrible. I’ve tried a small dish of vanilla essence in it, and washed out with bicarbonate of soda and water, but to no avail. – GT, Port Elizabeth.

There are many things you can try, such as garlic paste, or an onion cut into pieces and left in the freezer for a few days. “RB” left the freezer open for a day after removing the onions and “like magic” the smell disappeared.

Another reader boiled together one litre of water, half a cup of white vinegar, two teaspoons of cloves and two teaspoons of vanilla essence for a few minutes. She allowed the solution to cool, and then added two teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda.

”I wiped the inside of the freezer with this solution, and then left the dish in the freezer for two hours. Now the smell has gone,” she wrote.

Dave Simpson of DynaChem said the bad odour is caused by bacteria which has to be destroyed. This is done by using a chlorine sanitiser which should be allowed time to work, even in the joins and hard-to-reach places.

Jik, which is chlorine based, could work. If these methods don’t help, the lining of the freezer could be impregnated by the smell.

You could try the last-ditch effort devised by “PC” of Port Alfred. His freezer was badly affected because it was switched off for three weeks, filled with pre-Christmas goodies. It was decided to freeze the chest as quickly as possible and then, just as quickly, defrost it. This was done by putting bowls of boiling water in the freezer and cleaning it out immediately.

The sides sweated and a lot of the smell came out. He did this several times.


I have a soft plaited leather (almost like suede) grey rug in bad need of a clean. The quote from a drycleaner is 50% of the price of a new rug. Could I wash by hand and perhaps add softener to the rinsing water? – Joan, Port Elizabeth.

If this rug is made of leather, I don’t think washing it is a good idea. Leather expert Tony Stottelaar agrees, and feels drycleaning is the only option.

In view of the high cost, saddle soap might be worth a try. This glycerine-based soap, obtainable from leather and saddlery shops in a 250g tub, is applied with a damp sponge and must be thoroughly lathered in, to soften and clean the leather.

Do not rinse off. Saddle soap is absorbed by the leather, and nourishes it.


I must have brushed against a wet painted wall, damaging the long sleeve of a good T-shirt. My efforts to remove the paint have failed. – EA, Port Elizabeth.

You don’t mention the type of paint involved. Dried oil-based paint is easier to remove than dried emulsion paint. Once water-based paint is dry, it is immovable.

On the other hand, oil-based paint can be softened. To remove this paint, mix two parts ammonia to one part turpentine or paraffin and rub in. None of these substances should damage cotton, but if your T-shirt is a synthetic fabric, test on an inconspicuous place first.

You should be able to rub out the paint with this method.

Then launder as usual.

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