The First Thing You Should Do with a New Bottle of Vanilla Extract

updated Oct 13, 2021
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Moistening a cotton bowl with vanilla extract, to put into a bowl
Credit: Sarah Crowley

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to be running out of vanilla extract. Maybe that’s because I’m basically constantly making chocolate chip cookies or blondies or cookie cakes or some treat that calls for a teaspoon of vanilla. Stick with me while I do a little bit of math: There are six teaspoons in an ounce, which means 24 batches of cookies before my 4-ounce bottle runs out — usually less because I tend to use a GENEROUS teaspoon, and what if I decide to make something really vanilla-y like crème brûlée or vanilla ice cream

If I were smarter, I’d probably go to Costco and pick up a 16-ounce bottle of Costco’s Pure Vanilla Extract and save the pricier stuff for special occasions. But I’m not there yet, which means I don’t just think I’m running out — I am running out, usually every two months, sometimes more often. 

Recently, whenever I pick up a new bottle, I started doing this one tiny, brilliant thing that has helped me banish unwanted smells (in particular, the wet cat food that my tabby Ramona likes to eat sporadically) from my refrigerator: I moisten a cotton ball with a bit of extract and put it in a small bowl or jar in the back of the fridge. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Neutralize Refrigerator Odors with Vanilla Extract

You’ve probably heard of using baking soda in your fridge to absorb any foul odors, and we think that sort of works. Just in case, I do keep a box of baking soda in my refrigerator. But what if you don’t just want your fridge to not smell bad? What if you want it to smell ever-so-slightly good? Vanilla is the answer.

You’ll need vanilla, some cotton balls, and a small container or dish. Moisten the cotton ball (or two) with a few drops of vanilla, drop it in a dish, and put the whole thing on a shelf in your fridge. The scent is subtle (not at all like putting a Yankee candle in your refrigerator, in case that’s what you were worrying about) and, if you go through vanilla with the same frequency I do, it’ll be time to swap out your deodorizer right around the time you resupply. 

You could also use any other kind of extract — like lemon or almond — but since you most likely have vanilla on hand already, why not go for that? 

Got any other tips for keeping your fridge smelling nice and clean? Leave your ideas in the comments below.