Dear Heloise:

Please help. I just purchased a new small refrigerator for our preschool. A parent gave us a bag of fresh shrimp, and we left it in the refrigerator during the weekend, but the door was not shut properly. Now the refrigerator has a BAD smell. I've tried baking soda, lemons and even leaving it open for days. It still smells!

Angela, via e-mail

Angela, you would be amazed how many letters we get on how to deal with a refrigerator or freezer in which something has spoiled. Many times, this odor is very difficult to remove, and sometimes, no matter what you try, the odor remains.

Here are some things you can try:

Fill the fridge with crumpled-up newspaper and close the door; leave it shut for a couple of days. Then remove the newspapers and keep replacing until the smell is gone.

Wipe all surfaces with a solution of half vanilla extract and half water. Let sit for several days.

Put some activated charcoal in the fridge and keep it closed for a day or two.

Fill a couple of plastic containers with some cat-box filler (buy the one that says "multiple-cat household," as it seems to be stronger). Shut the door and wait a few days.

We are hoping that one of these will work for you. However, if the juice from the shrimp leaked into the coils or insulation of the fridge, the odor will more than likely be permanent, and you might have no choice but to replace the refrigerator. Good luck, and let us know what happens.

Dear Heloise:

I liked the suggestion to put your name on the inside of your suitcase as well as the outside. Another tip is to include a copy of your itinerary in the luggage in case it gets misrouted on your departure trip from home. That way, the airline can find you at your destination and hopefully return your bags to you before your trip is over.

Lucy Wells, Wheaton

Dear Heloise:

Here are some ideas for bridal or wedding gifts when the couple has everything they need:

A donation in the couple's name to a homeless shelter.

Donate toys to a shelter for women and children.

Volunteer a few hours to a facility that feeds the needy.

Mary H. Phillips


Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to

(c)2004, King Features Syndicate