Plastic is a fundamental part of storing and cooking in most kitchens. However, it can soak up the natural dyes from foods like red onions or spices such as cumin. A foggy plastic sheet that gets a workout as a cutting board for vegetables can look dirty after just a few uses and look worse after a rough scrub with an abrasive sponge.
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Rather than whip out the aggressive cleaning tactics or ditching the container altogether, cleaning it with gentle, natural ingredients can return the sparkle to dull plastic.
Cleaning with Baking Soda
A plastic container that held leftover poached salmon can have a lingering aroma long after the delicious meal has been enjoyed. Baking soda not only cleans the plastic but removes the scents of dishes past, often after just one wash. Before working with baking soda, clean the plastic in warm water, not boiling, and dish soap.
Sprinkle a layer of baking soda onto, into and over the plastic container and use a soft sponge to work the baking soda in and around the food storage dish. Rinse well and repeat until it is clean and odor-free.
A cut lemon rubbed into the plastic can also deodorize and clean the container when paired with the baking soda. After sprinkling the container with the baking soda, use the cut side of the lemon like a sponge and rub the baking soda into the surface of the plastic container. Rinse well and dry thoroughly before storing.
Stubborn Plastic Stains
For stubborn stains, Dashing Maids recommends that you apply a thick paste of baking soda and water to discolored plastic. Allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before washing it away. Vinegar can also be used along with the baking soda to remove tomato sauce stains or other aromas that linger in the plastic material.
You can also use a two-part method of baking soda and salt. Stubborn stains that don't go away after a thorough cleaning with the baking soda can often be lifted with a scrubbing of plain table salt. Pour salt onto a dish rag and rub it into the plastic in small circular motions before rinsing the container out well.
Clean Tea Stains from Plastic
Storing brewed tea in a plastic container can leave behind layer of tannins from the leaves. Plastic, particularly pieces that are brightly colored or decorated, can easily get scratched by abrasive sponges. Bleach may leach the color from plastic and cause them to lose their attractive hues or intricate patterns.
To remove tea stains from a plastic pitcher without further damaging the surface, Plum Deluxe suggests using dry or liquid detergent meant for the dishwasher, not dish soap. Fill the interior with water and add 2 tablespoons of the dishwasher detergent. Allow to sit for 15-45 minutes and repeat until the stain lifts from the plastic.
For regular cleaning, a good pour of baking soda added to the empty and wet container can remove the tea dyes from the interior of the plastic pitcher. Coat the inside of the container with baking soda, moving it around until it has reached all the sides, curves and nooks. Use a gentle dish sponge to rub the baking soda into the plastic and rinse well.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.