What's the Best Way to Destroy Fridge Odors?

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Updated on Aug 31, 2012

Grade Level: 7th-9th; Type: Chemistry


Discover the best method for removing odors from refrigerators: lemon, baking soda, active carbon, or coffee

Research Questions:

  • What causes odors?
  • What methods can best disguise those odors, and why do they work?

If you leave certain foods for too long in the fridge, they will start to spoil and the smell will sink into the structure of your refrigerator.

In this experiment, we will test four methods of replacing the bad odors with good ones. Lemons have a fresh citrusy scent. Baking soda is a very versatile cleaning agent. Active carbon, such as charcoal, sucks up odors. Coffee is grainy when ground up and smells pleasant.


  • Lemons (sliced in half)
  • Open box of baking soda
  • A chunk of active carbon, such as charcoal
  • Coffee
  • Four mini-refrigerators
  • Meat, milk, or other easily spoiled food
  • Pen and paper for notes

Experimental Procedure

  1. Place the same amount and kind of easily spoiled food, such as milk or meat, in four refrigerators. Leave it in there for two to four weeks.
  2. After that time, the fridge will stink. Put a few sliced up lemons inside fridge number one, a box of baking soda in the second, some coffee grounds laid out in a tray in the third, and a chunk of charcoal in the fourth. Leave overnight to two to three days.
  3. Open each of the fridges and inhale, taking a break in between each one. Which odor removal methods seems to be the most effective?
  4. Evaluate your results.

Terms/Concepts: Bacteria; odor control; refrigerator; food spoilage


USDA's Refrigeration and Food Safety Fact Sheet

How Stuff Works: What is Activated Carbon and Why is it Used in Filters?

Sofia PC is currently a college student with a deep interest in science who is aspiring to become a writer. She writes about all sorts of things across all subjects including, but not limited to; science, crafts, and fashion. She hopes to become a good writer so she can share her thoughts and experiences with the world and future generations.

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