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If you like to take your food on the go, or enjoy storing your food in plastic containers, you will need to learn how to clean plastic containers so they are stain-free and ready to go for holding your next meal.

Plastic containers can come in super handy for many things in your life. They are quite affordable and often come in handy sets that offer a wide variety of sizes. These kinds of plastic containers are often microwave and dishwasher safe.

While I prefer to use glass storage containers for my food, I have quite a few plastic ones that I prefer to use for kids lunches and storing leftovers.

While these containers are super convenient for so many parts of your everyday life, they can get stained from common spaghetti sauces, curry meals, and even chili stews. In order to get the stink and the stains out of these convenient items, you need to know how to clean plastic containers.

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How To Clean Plastic Containers

If you own a dishwasher you might wash your plastic containers in there on a regular basis. If you do use this method, you might notice that the containers do not come out as clean as you would like to see them, especially when the container is stained with tomato sauces or yellow curry. Along with the stains, the dishwasher doesn’t seem to always eliminate the odors that come from these containers, which could be from the hot water that is used in the dishwasher cycle.

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I’ve even had some of my plastic containers, which were labeled dishwasher safe, come out deformed from a dishwasher cycle. Perhaps it is because the dishwasher was loaded incorrectly, or simply because the water got too hot for the container to handle. When my plastic containers become deformed, I throw them into the recycling bin, which is a waste of money in my opinion.

Baking Soda To Clean Plastic Container

To clean tough tomato paste stains, use baking soda and a little elbow grease. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of baking soda into the container and add warm water until paste forms. The paste should be about the same consistency as toothpaste, if not a bit thinner. Smear the paste around with a microfiber cloth or a dish sponge and rub it in well. Rinse the paste out with dish soap and warm water.

Sunlight To Clean Plastic Containers

Another method to clean tough tomato stains and yellow curry out of plastic containers is to use the power of the sun. Wash your container as normal and then place it out in the sunshine to dry. The sun has natural bleaching powers which help with the staining, and it also takes away the odors. Try this trick with wood-cutting boards and wooden utensils as well.

Lemons To Clean Plastic Containers

If you do not have baking soda on hand, you can use a lemon to clean the stain as well. Simply cut a lemon in half and use the flesh side of the lemon to rub the stains. Once the stains have disappeared, rinse the container with dish soap and warm water.

Vinegar To Wash Plastic Containers

To use Vinegar to wash your plastic containers, use 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 cup of water into the stained container and let it sit for 2 hours on the counter. When the time has elapsed, rinse it out with dish soap and water.

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Cleaning Plastic Container With Sugar, Ice Cubes And Dish Soap

To use this popular method to clean your plastic containers, cover the bottom of the plastic container with sugar, add in a layer of ice cubes and top it all off with a few squirts of dish soap. Leave the solution for 1 hour and then wash it clean under the tap.

How To Clean A Plastic Container With Hand Sanitizer

For some tough stains you might be wanting to try hand sanitizer to do the job. This method is quite simple. All you have to do is add hand sanitizer to the container and cover the stain completely. Let the solution sit on the stain for 45 minutes and then rinse out the hand sanitizer. Make sure to use dish soap and water to get all of the sanitizer out.

Dish Soap And Paper Towel Method To Clean Plastic Containers

One way I like to clean my plastic containers is to simple add warm soapy water to the container and place in a crumpled up piece of paper towel inside of it. Place on the lid and shake it up like crazy.

Surprisingly enough, this works to get rid of the staining on the container like a magic trick, and it’s pretty easy too!

For Tough Spice Odors

If you have some odors lingering from strong spices in your containers, sprinkle the container with baking soda, place the lid on the container and wait a day. Dump out the baking soda and rinse the container. Enjoy your odor-free plastic container!

Plastic Container Tips

To make your containers last longer, avoid using the microwave to heat up your food in the container. Instead, use a paper towel or a plate. This ensures that the stains on the container do not get set with the heat from the microwave.

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Another thing you can do to avoid staining your plastic containers with bright red or yellow foods, spray the container with cooking spray before you place your food inside. The oil helps coat the plastic and then prevent the colors to transfer to the container.

If you are going to use the dishwasher to wash your plastic dishes, use the top rack of the dishwasher. Many dishwasher heating elements are on the bottom which means that plastic containers on the bottom rack can melt easier.

Sometimes you cannot save your plastic container, even with all the cleaning tips I have provided. Plastic containers do have a short life cycle and will need to be replaced often. This is why you can often find these plastic container sets for such a cheap price at the grocery store. If your container is beyond repair, then you can toss them, or recycle them. If your container is simply stained and no longer good enough to hold food, try to repurpose it for household screws, batteries, kids’ art supplies, and other items around the home.

To avoid having to purchase plastic containers so often, you can use mason jars or glass containers instead. Glass containers last forever and they don’t stain very often. They also do not get damaged in the dishwasher on the top or bottom rack. Glass containers do not absorb odors and colors, and they are also quite difficult to break, even when heated or cooled constantly.

I love to use my glass Pyrex glass containers for meal prepping for the week and when I’m cooking with many ingredients too.

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