Does Cornstarch Absorb Odors: The Science

We’ve all been there. That moment you notice an unpleasant, stubborn smell in your home that won’t go away. No matter how much air freshener you spray. Guess what? You don’t have to run to the store for another aerosol can. Let’s find out does cornstarch absorb odors.

As it turns out, an everyday pantry staple—cornstarch—may be just the odor absorber you need. But is this true?

Does cornstarch absorb odors effectively?

Let’s get valuable tips and tricks on how to use cornstarch as an odor-eliminating weapon in your home!

What Is Cornstarch and How Does It Work as an Odor Absorber?

Cornstarch has been going around as an effective solution for neutralizing odors. You might be wondering what cornstarch is and how it works to absorb odors.

Cornstarch is a starch powder produced from corn grain. It’s common in the baking industry as a thickening agent or substitute for cooking oil.

But what makes it stand out for absorbing odors is its porous nature. That means that upon contact, it can easily absorb molecules.

As a result, trapping them in its small compartments effectively reduces humidity and odors in the space.

Cornstarch is excellent when it comes to its odor absorption abilities. It can absorb water-soluble and fat-soluble odors. Making it an incredibly versatile solution!

Its natural properties make it an affordable, non-toxic, and chemical-free solution for removing foul smells. But these are some simple tips if the bad smell is from your vacuum.

Why Does Cornstarch Absorb Odors?

There’s a high probability that you’ve heard that cornstarch soaks up smells and eliminates odor-causing bacteria. But does it work? The answer is yes! So what makes cornstarch an efficient odor absorber?

The secret lies in its chemical makeup. Cornstarch comprises two starches—amylose and amylopectin(polymers that contain multiple sugar molecules).

These polymers form a gel-like substance that traps and absorbs odors after moisture exposure.

Cornstarch also works as a natural deodorizer because it has a neutral pH level. That helps to neutralize the molecules in the air that create odors.

When used with baking soda, it can help kill bacteria and break down food particles that stick to surfaces and lead to unpleasant smells.

So the next time you need an odor absorber in your kitchen or other room, you should highly consider cornstarch. It’s attractive for being affordable, easy to use, and non-toxic!

How to Use Cornstarch for Odor Control

You may wonder how cornstarch can help you with odor control. The answer is surprisingly simple—it works by trapping smells and moisture in its granules.

You can place a small amount of cornstarch in areas exposed to high humidity and different aromas. This includes the kitchen and bathroom.

Spreading the Cornstarch

Once you’ve spread the cornstarch, it instantly absorbs moisture or smells. Spread your cornstarch using a brush or a vacuum attachment to work it into carpets and fabrics. This helps get the best possible results.

Replenishing Your Supply


If your cornstarch becomes saturated after a few days, replace it with fresh cornstarch for more relief from odors and moisture. It’s important to remember to vacuum up any old residue before adding new supplies.

As this will help keep your area clean and smelling fresh.

Cornstarch is an excellent way to fight odors and excess moisture in your home. Be sure to replace it regularly for continued odor control effectiveness.

DIY Natural Odor Eliminators with Cornstarch

You might have heard baking soda and vinegar can help with odors, but have you ever tried cornstarch? Well, it turns out that cornstarch absorbs odors too!

That is through an adsorption chemical reaction, where a liquid gets stuck to solid surfaces like cornstarch.

And that’s what happens when the molecules of volatile liquids like odors cling to the surface of the starch granules. As a result, the scents are trapped in the starch and can’t be smelled anymore. Pretty cool, right?

You have different ways of using cornstarch to eliminate the odors, as stated below:

Sprinkle cornstarch on your carpets and furniture

Place a light layer directly onto carpets, couches, and other upholstery fabrics. Let the starch sit for several hours before vacuuming.

Create a DIY deodorizing spray

Add a cup of water and two tablespoons of cornstarch in a spray bottle. Shake until everything is evenly mixed. Now you can spritz it on curtains, pillows, or any other fabric item in your house.

Make an odor-busting paste

Combine 1/4 cup of cornstarch with equal parts water. Stir until it forms a thick paste. Now you can scrub down countertops, tile walls, or any other nonporous surfaces affected by smelly aromas!

Cornstarch Alternatives for Odor Removal

Are there any alternatives to using cornstarch for odor removal? The answer is yes!

And fortunately, many of them have the same results as using cornstarch — a quick and easy odor-removal solution.

Activated Charcoal

A popular choice for scent removal is activated charcoal. It can absorb and hold the odor molecules on its surface, neutralizing them entirely and, in turn, freshening up the air.

It’s also affordable, perfect for those looking to eliminate odors on a budget.

White Vinegar

There’s no doubt you’ve heard of white vinegar before. But did you know it can also clear odors? White vinegar is a natural anti-bacterial substance.

When mixed with hot water and sprayed around your home or office, it can help remove strong smells like smoke and pet odor.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a popular natural ingredient for removing scents from clothes and other fabrics. Sprinkle it on your clothes or furniture. Then let it sit overnight before vacuuming it off in the morning.

How about creating a three-in-one product of activated charcoal, white vinegar, and baking soda? It creates a product powerful enough to eliminate the most pungent odors.

Tips for Using Cornstarch to Absorb Odors

Using cornstarch to absorb odors is straightforward. Still, these tips help foster optimum results.

Make sure you use pure cornstarch. Avoid the varieties that have added scents or fragrances.

If you don’t want to use the powder directly, make a paste from cornstarch and water. Then spread it on the affected area. It will also last a bit longer.

Place an open container of cornstarch in the area you’re trying to deodorize.

Then make sure that your container has holes or slits at the top. It allows air to get in and out and carries away odors as the starch absorbs them.

Don’t pour the starch directly onto the upholstery or fabrics —sprinkle it gently instead, so it won’t leave any clumps or stains behind.

For more pungent odors (like cigarette smoke), leave the cornstarch on for as long as possible. Overnight is ideal — to give it time to absorb all the smells and particles in the air!

Cornstarch can be an excellent odor absorber because of its porous nature. All those tiny particles capture smells, leaving your home fresh-smelling again!


It is clear that cornstarch can absorb odors. But like many things, it has shortcomings and may not eliminate all odors. Prevention is always better than cure.

Make sure your home is adequately ventilated and practice good hygiene habits to prevent and reduce odor tendencies.

The bottom line is that cornstarch is a valuable and affordable tool that can reduce odors in all small and large spaces.

Still, its effectiveness is limited and primarily serves as a short-term solution. For more severe and pervasive odors, a more comprehensive approach is necessary.

The excellent news is that plenty of options exist to help tackle odors in your home.

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