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Genomics Teaching Tool

Strawberry DNA Extraction

Step-by-step instructions on how to extract DNA from a strawberry.

Cells are the basic unit of life and make up all plants, animals and bacteria. Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the molecule that controls everything that happens in the cell. DNA contains instructions that direct the activities of cells and, ultimately, the body. 

With only a few household items, you can extract DNA from strawberries just about anywhere! Extracting DNA from strawberries is super easy, allowing you to learn about genomics. Join NHGRI Director Eric Green and social media specialist Jenny Montooth as they show you step-by-step how to extract DNA from strawberries using materials available in your kitchen!

Materials needed

  • A resealable plastic bag
  • 2 strawberries (fresh or frozen, but remove the green leaves)
  • 2 teaspoon dish detergent
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 plastic cups
  • 1 coffee filter
  • ½ cup cold rubbing alcohol
  • 1 coffee stirrer
  • and 1 scientist (you!)


Steps 1 & 2: Place strawberries in a plastic bag. After closing the bag, SMASH the strawberries for ~2 minutes until nice and smashed!

Step 3: Make DNA extraction solution by adding the following to the first plastic cup:

  • 2 teaspoon dish detergent
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Steps 3 & 4: After gently mixing the extraction solution (until salt is dissolved), pour it into the bag of smashed strawberries.

Step 5: Reseal the bag and *gently* massage and mix the mixture for a minute. Try to avoid making too many soap bubbles!

Steps 6 and 7: Place the coffee filter over the opening of the second plastic cup. open the plastic bag, and pour the liquid onto the coffee filter. Then wait for the liquid to drip through the coffee filter into the plastic cup, leaving the strawberry *schmutz* on the coffee filter.

Step 8: You’re almost there! Pour an equal amount of cold rubbing alcohol into the liquid in the second plastic cup.

Step 9: Gently move the cup around in circles and watch the whitish *snot-like* material form in the upper layer of liquid — that is the strawberry DNA!

Step 10: Use the coffee stirrer to pick up strawberry DNA out of the liquid.

Last updated: May 20, 2023