Cleaning Plastic Food Containers

Plastic containers for saving leftovers are one of the great conveniences of the modern world — until you have fight with cleaning them. Try these smart strategies for making this not-so-fun task speedier and more effective.


Banish Stink

  1. Dissolve four tablespoons of baking soda in one quart of warm water.
  2. Immerse the container in this solution if it’s small enough, or pour the mixture into the container, soaking for about 30 minutes or until the odor disappears. Rinse, and dry.
  3. Smell still there? Stuff the container with crumpled newspaper, then put the lid on securely. Remove paper after a day or two; it should have absorbed the odor. Wash the container and lid in hot, soapy water; wipe dry.

Fight Stains

  1. Mix a solution of one tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach per cup of warm water. Make enough so that when poured in, it will cover the discolored portion of your container.
  2. Pour the solution into the container. If the lid is also stained, place it flat at the bottom of the sink and pour on more of the bleach mixture. Soak for about 30 minutes, until clean.
  3. Wash the container and the lid in hot, soapy water; wipe dry.

Make It Easier Next Time

To minimize staining, spritz containers and lids with nonstick cooking spray before filling them with tomato-based foods

Check whether containers are microwave-safe before heating them. If they aren’t, the plastic can degrade in the microwave and become more likely to stain and retain odors.


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