Plastic containers are handy for serving, storing and freezing perishable foods as well as dry staples. They also stack easily in the closet, reducing space needed for storage when not in use. However, they tend to absorb odors from spicy or greasy foods or even from stale air when stored. You can eliminate unsavory smells in a few ways, and by using some basic cleaning items, you can restore your plastic to normal use. You may need to follow only one or two of the steps, depending on the strength of the smell.
Wash the plastic container with a non-abrasive sponge and liquid dish detergent. If the food stored was greasy, use a detergent meant to cut grease. This removes grease residue, which causes many odors. Using a non-abrasive sponge will prevent roughing up the surface of the plastic, which allows further absorption of odors.
Wad up and wet some newspaper to fit inside the container. Seal the lid tightly and let it sit overnight. The carbon in the newsprint ink absorbs many odors. Remove the newspaper and wash the plastic with hot, soapy water.
Wash the container with lemon or lime juice on a clean, wet sponge or dish cloth. Rinse with hot water.
Dampen a dish cloth with white distilled vinegar. Wipe the inside and outside of the plastic with the dish cloth. Rinse with hot water and dry.
Pour dry baking soda into the container and seal the lid tightly. Let it sit overnight, then wash the container with hot, soapy water and rinse well.
Dry containers thoroughly before storing, and store with lids off to prevent air from getting stale and creating a foul smell in the sealed container. This also helps keep the lid from warping.