Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Now Deodorizes For 30 Days Instead Of 3 Months

Reader Kirin says he’s suspicious of Arm & Hammer’s assertion that the same 1lb of baking soda will only deodorize for 30 days when it used to work for 3 months.

I try to preempt nasty smells in the refrigerator by buying one of those handy Fridge-N-Freezer baking soda boxes where you can simply tear off the sides and allow it to absorb odors. But in the past three months, it looks like marketing got a hold of the packaging, and suddenly baking soda only works for one month instead of three! Arm & Hammer say that they are “America’s #1 trusted baking soda brand,” but I’m not really feeling the trust anymore…

How very, very odd. Arm & Hammer says that their baking soda is 100% pure sodium bicarbonate, so we’re assuming they haven’t changed the recipe. They also haven’t updated their FAQ. It still recommends changing the box every 3 months.

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  1. Eldritch says:

    …huh. Now that is a quandry. Did they change the formula, therefore making it only good for a month, or did they simply change the packaging to get people to buy another box even though it’s good for three months still…

    My brain hurts.

  2. hypnotik_jello says:

    guess the grocery shrink ray has morphed into time-shrink ray.

  3. outinthedark says:

    Isn’t activated carbon better anyways?

  4. BrianDaBrain says:

    I blame the new box. It’s shinier and therefore less effective. Everybody knows that it’s actually the box that absorbs the odor, not the contents. The sodium bicarbonate is just there to add… substance… or something.

    The only thing the new box is missing is the phrase “NEW AND IMPROVED!!!!!” inside a bright yellow explosion graphic.

    I’m dripping sarcasm today. I’d say use it for 3 months anyway.

  5. @outinthedark: Not anymore. They took a page from Apple’s book, and activating your charcoal/carbon is a pain in the ass now.

  6. Zimorodok says:

    I’d change it every 30 days, but only if Billy Mays told me to!

  7. pigbearpug says:

    @outinthedark: According to that show on the food network it is… Anybody know where to buy activated charcoal?

  8. Unbelievable.

    We should have a contest to see how the PR people spin this.

    My submission: Today’s consumer is more consicous about refrigerator and freezer odors. We have thus adjusted our recommendation to reflect the changing marketplace.

  9. HIV 2 Elway says:

    I think I’ve had the same container of baking soda in my fridge for over three years.

  10. Reeve says:

    Unbelievable but I agree with @outinthedark that activate carbon is better anyway so I would recommend buying that.

  11. qwickone says:

    @twophrasebark: they are so going to steal your answer

  12. outinthedark says:

    @Git Em SteveDave displays attention-grabbing vanity: Funny guy! Hehe!

    @pigbearpug: I saw that too the other night. Girlfriend is obsessed with the show already. I had one in my fridge for as long as I can remember. My roommate’s Mom put one in the day we moved in.

    I found the like the one from the show it’s called the Fridge-it…

    [www.campingworld.com]

    or

    [www.kitchenhaven.com]

    Seems that all the hits are camping or RV sites…

  13. Keter says:

    Back in the ’60s, my grandmother taught me to put a cup of baking soda from a big economy size box into a wide mouthed jar and put it in the back of the ‘fridge. I stir the soda every time I clean the refrigerator (about once a month) and replace the soda about once a YEAR. Yes, if you stir it regularly to expose fresh surface area, it will continue to work for about a year. If something spills in the ‘fridge, grab that cup of soda and use it to wash up the mess (make a paste to deal with something particularly sticky). And even after a year, the old baking soda still has one more use left in it: cleaning the garbage disposal on the way down the drain…

  14. @pigbearpug: I’ve found it at grocery stores and kitchen/housewares stores – costs about $3 in California.

    Also, I’d imagine that you could use the activated charcoal that’s used in aquariums. At least, that’s the impression I’d gotten from “Food Detectives”.

  15. CaptainConsumer says:

    Oil change places tell you 3000 miles and not what auto makers suggest, the wedding industrial complex says 3 month salary guidline for rings, it’s a sham, all of it.

    Just make up what you want, anything goes in advertising. Lie if you want to, nobody is held responsible, hence the Consumerist exists

  16. dmang88 says:

    Arm&Hammer is recommending a strategic bicarbonate surge to combat an emboldened odor insurgency; they certainly hope we can return to a 3-month tour when conditions dictate.

  17. outinthedark says:

    @outinthedark: Wow…

    Exchange this…
    “I found the like the one…”

    For this…
    “I found a similar product from the show called the Fridge-it”

    @Reeve: I agree unbelievable…

  18. MercuryPDX says:

    I’ve had the same boxes last more than 3 months, and I think a lot of it has to do with how you store your food; “open” and covered with saran wrap or sealed in tupperware?

    Just do a smell test and buy a new box when the old one gives out, not when the date on the side says it’s ready for a new box.

    I’ve also heard form a relative that shaking up the box once a month increases how long it lasts, but have nothing empirical to back that up.

  19. Milo.Stone says:

    @outinthedark: I didn’t care for Food Detectives at all. Maybe I’m spoiled by Mythbusters, but I’d rather watch them do tests than just watch them act out skits about the science they preformed off camera.

    Act badly, I might add.

  20. RhymePhile says:

    @scarletvirtue (Sadie, Sadie Married Lady):
    You can buy a large container of activated charcoal used in aquariums for a couple of dollars in any Wal-Mart, Target, etc. or any store that has a pet department.

    It’s fairly dusty and dirty though, so I’m assuming you place it in cheese cloth maybe and hang it inside the fridge?

  21. Colage says:

    Next up: The audacity of shampoo companies who put “repeat” into the instructions.

  22. outinthedark says:

    @Milo.Stone: I hate it too…I can’t stand the guy. He knows his food but it sounds like he is shouting at the camera throughout the show.

    I thought it was funny I have two of those purple things in my fridge and never really cared. It may be the reason why my roommates seem to overlook their decaying food. Maybe I’ll get two more for the both of them to wear as well.

  23. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    30 days? 3 months? Meh. I’ve had a box in mine for a year! Around 6 months, I just took it out, gave it a good shake. And put it back. My fridge has no odors. Nor the freezer.

    Shrink-Time Ray is Arm&Hammer’s Mission Accomplished!

  24. donopolis says:

    I just wanted to point out that the military removes the stench of rotten flesh from Jeeps, trucks & etc… using open cannisters of coffee…they then brew the coffee.

    EEEEWWW!

    Donopolis

  25. SadSam says:

    @CaptainConsumer:

    How often should you change the oil in your car??

  26. Saving_is_fun says:

    @BrianDaBrain: Can something really be NEW AND IMPROVED? If it improved, doesn’t that mean there was something before it to “improve” upon, therefore making it old? Just a thought.

  27. bkpatt says:

    It’s our fault as consumers anyway. 3 Months!? How can we expect a company to stay in business when we only buy a consumable product once every 3 months? We really have gotten a lot of audacity lately, and these companies are fully justified in being fed up with our crazy actions. We read the 3 month directions and followed them like little sheep, why WOULDN’T they change it to a month? Hell, make it two weeks! Let’s send those marketing genius-boys to the Cayman’s for a month or two for this brain-buster!

    To think… the top floor at Arm & Hammer has probably been settling for second-class caviar for years because we just COULDN’T break past this 3-month thing. Thank GOD their marketing department came to our rescue! They may have to fly business-class for that little FAQ-miss snafu, but they’ll learn and be better for it.

    I have some inside connections, so I’ll share the next strategy… it will no longer be enough to have just one box either. You see, smells dissipate in a very permeating fashion, and if you only have a box on ONE side of the fridge, or (GOD FORBID) you put it in the DOOR, well… how will you get the smells in the BACK of the fridge? Or the other side?

    You see… two is the new one. It’s coming.

  28. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    @Milo.Stone: Yes, the acting is really bad.. it seems like a show really aimed at young children rather than people who would watch Good Eats or Mythbusters. I still watch it though because I like the information, allthough most of it so far has been stuff I already knew. I think the show won’t last very long unless the format/acting changes.

  29. ironchef says:

    FoodTV has a show with Ted Allen called Food Detectives that says the baking soda’s effectiveness isn’t all that great. The problem is baking soda’s surface area is very minimal for odor absorption.

    The champion is activated charcoal. And you need a whole baking pan to do the job whereas baking soda isn’t very effective.

  30. The_IT_Crone says:

    Possible marketing strategy: with energy costs rising, people have been turning up the temp in their freezers/fridges. So the warmer temps of the foodstuffs are reducing the lifetime of A+H boxes.

    /not in marketing
    //is evil, anyway

  31. eirrom says:

    I really like the newer designed box with the side vents. that is so much better than the “open the top of the box” method of killing fridge smells.

    I would really hope that A&H has not come up with a new formula that is weaker than before so that we have to buy more boxes per year. Companies do strange things but his would be a pretty low thing to do.

    I can only hope they do not recommend soon that the box needs to be replaced weekly.

  32. @The_IT_Crone: Wow. That’s good!!

  33. coren says:

    @Saving_is_fun: It’s a new recipe, which is an improvement over the old. Booya!

    @twophrasebark: It won’t shock me when the actual answer is similar tow hat you just posted.

  34. justbychance says:

    Next, they’ll make smaller and cheaper water filters just to get you buy one every month…

    Or better yet, Arm & Hammer should sell one for 2 dollars and say that a new 90 day one is available for only $5.99!

  35. SpdRacer says:

    @SadSam: You can get about 5000 miles from regular oil, about 7000 from synthetic. This all depends on your driving habits of course.

  36. Keter says:

    @outinthedark: If you NEED the strength of activated carbon to deodorize your refrigerator, you are covering up a bigger, possibly more dangerous issue.

    Bad smells in a refrigerator indicate that the food is not being stored properly. Things to check for include:

    Food isn’t containerized correctly.
    Many food packages are not suitable for storage once opened, such as metal cans or hot dog wrappers). Improper food storage exposes food to the air, which is the leading reason for “odor transfer.” Exposure to air will dry out the food and make is less palatable, and it also will transfer bacteria and mold spores, which will cause the food to spoil more rapidly. Leaking packages create a pool of growth medium for bacteria on shelves or in drawers, and the risk that this could drip onto other food stored below, contaminating it. I use jars with good lids and well-sealing plastic containers for storing most opened foods and beverages. — Improper packaging leads to faster spoilage, odor transfer, and may increase the risk of illness due to contaminated food.

    Temperature inside the refrigerator is too warm.
    Leave a thermometer on the DOOR, the warmest part of the refrigerator. (You can get these thermometers at appliance and kitchen stores.) It should be below 38 degrees. (I keep mine at 34 degrees; stuff in the back sometimes frosts a little). Mold/mildew/condensation is a telltale sign that the temperature is too high or that the defrost cycle isn’t working correctly. You may need to schedule service. Remove mold/mildew with a solution of chlorine bleach and water (don’t mix bleach with anything but water, you can make a deadly gas). — Food stored at the wrong temperature can cause illness. This is not something you can afford to ignore.

    More frequent or thorough cleaning is needed.
    Wipe up all spills as they happen. Take everything out periodically – once a month for most adults is enough, at least once a week is required if you have children or a really sloppy living companion – and put the food into an ice chest. Disassemble the entire refrigerator – remove all shelves, drawers, etc. Spray down the inside of the refrigerator with a good disinfecting cleaner (I find bathroom foam cleaner is just about perfect when used with a white ‘magic eraser’ scrubber), scrub off all food spots, rinse, and dry. Close the door and let the chamber cool down as you wash the shelves and drawers in the sink (I use the foaming cleaner for that, too). Dry these with a towel, and put the refrigerator back together. Stir or replace your baking soda. Examine each item of food before you put it back in the refrigerator, chucking anything that’s questionable and wiping any containers with drips or sticky bottoms. — If you stay on top of this chore, your refrigerator will NEVER stink.

  37. ryan89 says:

    I like how it wants you to change your fridge water filter every 3 months for $40. Whirlpool will say every 6 months.

  38. missdona says:

    @Keter: I think that’s the best one they came up with. Pour your Baking Soda down the drain! And consume more baking soda…

  39. MercuryPDX says:

    @ryan89: My fridge has a percentage counter for its water filter. If you go below 20% it flashes.

    Since Sears never seems to have these in stock, I buy two years worth (4 filters) at a time.

  40. alice_bunnie says:

    @SadSam:

    Depends upon your car and your driving habits. Read your manual. My Honda Odyssey, which I drive usually no more than 15K a year, and rarely in rush hour, I change around every 7K miles.

    As for baking soda, I don’t use it. I just keep foods sealed up and my refrigerator clean.

  41. mgy says:

    @CaptainConsumer: I came here to say this. Sounds like Jiffy Lube and Arm and Hammer got together on this one.

  42. mountaindew says:

    @Keter: Thanks for the info.

  43. floraposte says:

    @bkpatt: Heh. Marketing in action:

  44. Snowblind says:

    @loogee: Nope, it will come in a 3 pack for $6.99 at big box retailers.

  45. friendlynerd says:

    Regular old charcoal briquettes work fine for this, and definitely better than baking soda.

    I had a horrible fridge odor I could not get rid of even after scrubbing down all surfaces. I put about 10 lumps of charcoal in a shallow pan and the smell was gone within 3 days.

    My ice has tasted better ever since and no more stinky fridge.

  46. BrianDaBrain says:

    @Saving_is_fun: Perhaps the “New” refers to the often flashier packaging. “New look, improved functionality”… kinda like that!

  47. Average_Joe says:

    @pigbearpug: That same show on the food network said you can buy carbon from a pet store. It’s the same carbon used to filter fish tanks. They sell jugs of it.

  48. Ragman says:

    I’ve heard the tip about stirring the baking soda. I change mine out once or twice a year, but I don’t have odor problems. When I was in college, we would wash out our little dorm fridges with baking soda dissolved in water, so there would be a coating of baking soda on the inside of the fridge.

    I change my fridge filter out once a year. It’s got a change indicator, so I change at one year or indicator light – whichever comes last.

    Oil changes are generally 3000 for regular oil, ~7000 for blend, but nobody really wanted to say for full synthetic. That may be due to (from what I’ve heard) the original full synthetic oil being claimed to have a 25000 mile life. Mobil 1 has a 15000 mile full synthetic oil. I change mine about once a year, full synth, about 10000 miles.

  49. lidor7 says:

    I think what this means is in this day and age, our foods are three times as smelly (or that we leave food in the fridge three times as long, yuck)!

  50. @RhymePhile: Most likely that’s what one would do – the little cartridge thing I have is about the size of a film pony, with screens/cut-outs, and it hangs from one of the shelves.

    If it actually works, I may invest in a container of the charcoal and some cheesecloth.

  51. bagumpity says:

    Potential Marketing Strategy:

    Arm & Hammer Baking Soda contributes to the environment in many ways: The active ingredient, Sodium Bicarbonate, is a buffer, neutralizing not only harmful acids and alkalais but acting as an anti-oxidant in many chemical reactions. Sodium Bicarbonate can be used to sequester harmful Carbon Dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas that scientists say is the primary cause of the greenhouse effect and global warming. By dumping Arm & Hammer Baking Soda down your drain, you are countering the effects of acid rain, global warming, pesticide runoff, and conservative politicians. Remember- the more often you change Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, the better your refridgerator- and our planet- will smell.

  52. TVarmy says:

    See, they say bicarbonate, but they don’t say how many sodiums you get in each molecule of the compound.

    Can you tell I dropped out of engineering?

  53. springboks says:

    It’s not the recipe or formula that has changed.

    It’s pretty clear what happened. Sales for odor deodorizer were down. A&H corporate needed to drive sales up, so they’re using the whole 30days instead of three months. Nice play on numbers too 3 vs 30 rather than 90 v 30 days. This way the consumer feels they’re getting more for their money.

  54. craftypants says:

    @TVarmy:
    You get one sodium and two bicarb groups per molecule.

  55. craftypants says:

    @craftypants:
    Unless the shrink ray has struck here too

  56. battra92 says:

    @SpdRacer: The problem is you need to check your manual. Hyundai won’t honor their warranty if I don’t change it every 3750 miles.

  57. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    @pigbearpug: Try your local pet shop; they sell it for use in aquarium filters.

  58. shufflemoomin says:

    Is this some kind of US based scam? I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this in UK to remove fridge odours. Very strange concept.

  59. nobodyman says:

    I’m guessing that Arm&Hammer simply wants you to spend more money on baking soda by having you replace it more often. Much in the same way that Jiffy Lube tells you to change your oil every 3,000 miles when it’s generally accepted that 6,000 miles between service is just fine.

  60. Fallom says:

    @shufflemoomin: Get your brain checked, you should at the very least be able to understand the concept behind fridge odor.

  61. Parting says:

    Depends how dirty is your fridge !

  62. Parting says:

    @shufflemoomin: Baking soda absorbs odors. However, you don’t need to buy overpriced ”refrigirator soda”. Any baking soda does the job. Just pour some in a small box, and leave it open.

    Ask your grandmothers, they will explain this ”deodorant” thing :)

  63. Watcher95 says:

    At least after only using to deodorize my fridge for 30 days it doesn’t taste nearly as bad as the stuff that was in there for 90..

  64. zibby says:

    I’ve had a box in the fridge so long you could probably eat it as a meal.

  65. BoorRichard says:

    I have NEVER had a box of this stuff in the fridge, and I have NEVER had a stinky fridge as punishment. This is 100% scam.

    These guys are pretty creative when it comes to selling this white dirt. About ten years ago, we fell out of our chairs laughing at a picture on the back of the box. A friend called our attention to it. “What GENIUS,” she asked, “thought this up?” It was a picture of a white hand pouring a box of baking soda into the garbage. “Deodorize your garbage,” the box suggesting. We admired the plan: purchase box, dump contents into garbage can. Then it’s time to buy another box.

  66. NotATool says:

    @friendlynerd: Sure, that’s all fun and games until someone uses something like matchlight briquettes to deodorize their fridge!!! C’mon, you KNOW somebody would do that….

  67. friendlynerd says:

    @NotATool:
    Oh yikes. Yes. Good disclaimer.

  68. Firethorn says:

    BoorRichard:

    I’ll dump some into the actual can occasionally, not the liner. It’s not so much to control the odors of the stuff in the liner, as I change it out frequently enough, but the can itself can get a bit nasty on occasion – and it’s not worth it to take it outside and wash it out in the winter.

    I’m not sure what’s penetrating through the heavy plastic garbage bag to do that.

    As for my fridge, I container the stuff in there and have had no odor/taste transfer problems.

  69. SayAhh says:

    Noticed this back in August. Actual mileage may vary, but this is ridiculous! Maybe they’re using Donald Rumsfeld’s method for war calculations: Iraq war will last…six days, six weeks, I doubt six months…

    Next, Colgate will tell you that “for best results, squeeze from the bottom.” Oh, they do? Never mind.

  70. poiuytman says:

    I know this comment is way way late, but in the May/June 2009 issue of Cooks Illustrated (also on the website if you have a subscription), the editors point out that baking soda’s ability to neutralize acids is so slight that its deodorizing ability in the fridge is minimal to none.