Research Design Detailing the Impact of Using Baking Soda in Trash Cans

Research Design Detailing the Impact of Using Baking Soda in Trash Cans

  • Need for Experiment: Most homes are plagued with smelly trash cans throughout the week. The combination of rotting food, soiled diapers, and other domestic garbage results in odors. Unfortunately, it is hard to contain these smells around the trash area because it extends towards the area around which the wind blows. Whether the garbage bins are recyclable or disposable, it is a good idea to mask the bad smells to foster a clean and fresh homely feeling. The question thus comes: how can trashcan odor be reduced or masked? Baking soda has been used over ages to absorb odors.
  • Hypothesis: Sprinkling baking soda in trashcans and over garbage reduces odors.
  • Treatment and D. V: The following experiment was carried out alongside a control experiment. The dependent variable for this experiment was the trashcans.
  • Considerations in experiment design: the time span for the experiment was one week, the requirements were two trash cans and two 250g packets of baking soda. The experiment would be carried out in one home. Anything (garbage) that was supposed to be taken to the trashcan would be divided in two. One portion would go to the control trashcan while the other would go to the experimental one.
  • Limitations of design: the results and applicability thereafter were subject to weather changes; the amount of D.V (garbage) would vary from week to week.
  • Steps in implementing the experiment
  1. Clean the two trash cans with plain water (target to do this on collection day so that the experiment starts when the bin is empty). Plain water will clean any debris that may have spilled onto the bin.
  2. Dry the bins with a dry cloth or overturn them so that they can drip dry.
  3. When the bins are dry, sprinkle the bottom of the experimental bin with baking soda, the second bean will be the control experiment and will be left plain.
  4. Place plastic liners carefully to sit on the surface of the bin with the baking soda.
  5. Sprinkle baking soda on top of garbage in one of the bins as it accumulates.
  6. After the first two days, smell the two bins and note the difference in smell intensity. Involve another participant to confirm the results. Repeat this every two days.
  7. Continue with step 5
  8. On the seventh day, empty the bins. Wash with water, and then rinse with a solution of water and baking soda.
  • Data Collection

Collection of data regarding the intensity of odor was done using a 1- 5-strength indicator as follows:

1 2 3 4 5
Very mild Mild Strong Very Strong Extremely Strong
  • Findings
  1. The bin with baking soda registered very mild odors. The smell on the second, fourth and sixth day was almost uniform.
  2. The bin without baking soda registered very strong odor. By the sixth day, it was impossible to smell the bin without gagging.

Bin with baking soda

1 2 3 4 5
Day 2 ü
Day 4 ü
Day 6 ü

Bin without baking soda

1 2 3 4 5
Day 2 ü
Day 4 ü
Day 6 ü


As posed earlier in the hypothesis, baking soda indeed does reduce the intensity of odors. However, other factors must remain constant. For instance, the garbage bins must be placed in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. The strength of this experiment is that it is easy to replicate and to establish the causation factor.


How does use of baking powder affect smell? The higher the amount of baking soda used, the lesser the odor will be emitted. This relationship between the use of baking soda and production of smell is a negative bivariate correlation. In a statistical analysis, this relationship lies within the absolute 1 to zero.


Crossman, A. (2015). How a Controlled Experiment Works. [online] Education. Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2015].

Sneller, M. (2010). Greener cleaner indoor air. Tucson, Ariz.: Wheatmark.


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