How to Get Rid of Plastic Smell

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

New plastic -- whether a refillable water or storage bin -- sometimes stinks. While the odor eventually dissipates on its own, you can speed up the process by washing it, airing it out and using natural odor absorbing substances to remove the lingering smells. The same techniques work on plastics that smell, thanks to stinky items stored within them, such as old food or musty blankets.


Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap

  • Water

  • Dishcloth

  • Vinegar

  • Coffee grounds

  • Baking soda

  • Newspaper

Wash It Out

Whether it's a new storage bin or a plastic toddler toy that smells strongly of plastic, rinse the plastic item; then wash it with mild dish soap and water. Use a dishcloth to wipe down the inside and outside areas of new plastic containers. If unable to reach with a cloth inside a narrow item such as a water bottle, fill the item halfway with soapy water, place the lid on it, or place your hand over the top and shake it vigorously for a moment or two. Rinse out the soapy water; then allow it to air dry. If the item still smells a bit, fill it partway with white vinegar and allow the vinegar to sit for several minutes or even overnight. Dump the vinegar and rinse the plastic out again, allowing it to air dry.


Video of the Day

Air It Out

Odors don't always dissipate immediately, especially when dealing with new plastics. Air out the plastic item outdoors; if it has a lid, remove the lid and place it outside as well. Fresh air and sunshine on a non-humid day help remove some of the inherent plastic smell, while time gets rid of the rest.

Coffee Time

Dry coffee grounds help absorb all sorts of odors, including plastic smell. Place the coffee grounds inside a smelly plastic container, mug or bottle and set the item in a well-ventilated, dry area such as the porch or patio. If the plastic item has a lid, place the lid partway over it to help enclose the coffee a bit so it absorbs the odor better while still allowing some airflow. Allow the item to sit overnight or for several days if the plastic smell is particularly strong. If you don't care for the smell of coffee, use baking soda instead -- it absorbs odors from plastic just as well as it absorbs food odors in the fridge.


Paper for Plastic

Stuff wads of newspaper inside plastic items such as shoe storage containers or large plastic tubs. Put the lid back on the plastic for a day or longer; then remove the lid and newspaper and air out the plastic again.



Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.