Plastic Food Containers - Clean or Toss?

Plastic Food Containers

Clean or Toss?

       If your plastic food container can’t hold its shape in hot water or the microwave, then you may need to toss (or recycle) it. This is true of most containers that are meant to transport food such as takeout containers, and those that you purchase food products in, such as yogurt containers. These types of containers are designed for a one time use only.

        If the container is a keeper, make sure it is clean for the next use.


  • Remove any leftover food and rinse in hot water.
  • Wipe extra grease with a paper towel.
  • Wash in the sink with dish soap and warm water or put it in the dishwasher on the top rack.
  • Dry your container using a kitchen towel or the low-heat cycle on the dishwasher.

 Remove Stains

  • You may need to take extra steps to remove remaining stains.
  • Put on the kitchen counter and leave in the direct sun for a few hours.
  • Soak containers using a mild bleach solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water, drain and try thoroughly before use.
  • For containers that have an odor, try baking soda and water scrub (1 teaspoon of baking soda with one cup of water) or you can also try undiluted vinegar.
  • Be sure to wash the container after any of these stain removal steps.
  • If the stain won’t budge, throw the container away!

Avoid Future Stains

            You can prevent stains before they happen by spraying the inside of the container with an unflavored cooking spray. If you are not using the container for cooking, you can line the container with foil or plastic wrap. Tomato stains are stubborn so refrain from microwaving tomato sauce in plastic containers.

By Melinda G Han, Office Manager
The Educational Store