Keep Your Fridge Smelling Fresh With Nothing But Coffee Grounds

No matter how often you clean yours, all refrigerators are prone to occasional food odors. We are all familiar with the pervasive smell of cut onions emanating from inside every time you open the door, despite how well you may have wrapped and stored them.

If you prefer a naturally clean kitchen, you can use ground coffee to deodorize your fridge, along with other stinky areas. Baking soda works well for this purpose too, but if you're already drinking coffee and have grounds to discard anyway, this is a clever way to repurpose them. It's a remarkably effective and chemical-free way to neutralize strong, pungent smells from garlic, fish, cooked eggs, etc. — and replace them with the warm and cozy scent of coffee. 

To tame your ripe fridge, simply put some coffee grounds in a bowl or wide-mouthed jar and place it in your refrigerator. The coffee doesn't just cover up the odor; it actually absorbs it and leaves behind a far more pleasing aroma. If you're the kind of person who enjoys the smell of walking into a coffee shop, then you'll love this fresh-smelling fridge hack that will bring that eau du cafe right into your home.

How the caffeine in coffee helps to remove smells

It turns out that one of our favorite things about coffee, its caffeine, is responsible for its odor-eating qualities. More specifically, the nitrogen in caffeine boosts the ability of the carbon in coffee to absorb foul odors. In fact, scientists from the City College of New York have developed filters made from carbonized coffee grounds that are able to scrub hydrogen sulfide gas from the air — that's the same gas that causes the stench of raw sewage (per Science Daily). If it works that well on rubbish, imagine what it can do for your fridge.

So, unlike air freshener sprays, incense, candles, or perfumes, ground coffee doesn't just mask odors — it eliminates them. It works just as well with unused, fresh coffee as it does with a batch that's already been brewed ... there's no need to waste perfectly good coffee on this ... but you can put it to good use once you've made your drinks.

Leave the grounds out to air dry or roast them at a low temperature to speed up the process. Alternately, you can also use grounds that are still wet, which will give your fridge a more prominent coffee scent — but you'll want to keep an eye on it for mold, which can develop on moist coffee quickly. 

Deodorize your entire home with ground coffee

Of course, coffee's deodorizing magic isn't just limited to your fridge. It will work wonders to freshen up your entire kitchen as well as any other rooms too. Leave bowls of coffee grounds out in places that frequently get stinky, like bathrooms, near litter boxes, in closets, mudrooms, and basements. Use vintage coffee cans or cookie tins for a decorative touch and place them about as you would potpourri ... instead of the scent of flowers and spices, your space will smell like earthy, nutty, chocolatey coffee. Yum. 

Try filling sachet or muslin bags with ground coffee and leaving them in strategic areas around your home. Stash some in your pantry or drop a few inside your trash can. Place them directly into shoes, or under the sink next to your cleaning supplies. Stale odors will be wiped out and replaced with roasty-smelling goodness.

If you're partial to its comforting scent, you can even use coffee grounds to make your bedroom smell better. Not only that, but the scent of coffee can even help you relax. A 2021 study for Scientific Reports found exploring the potential of coffee in aromatherapy has shown that it has calming and anti-stress qualities. Whether you grind coffee from whole beans or purchase it pre-ground, the next time you brew up a cup of Joe, save the spent dregs and give them new life keeping your fridge, and your entire home, smelling fresh.