Plastic containers are a simple solution for storing leftovers, but they can easily get stained if you store tomato-based foods in them. In fact, tomato stains in plastic food storage containers are so common that people have devised several methods to get rid of the stains.
Removing Stains From Plastic Containers
Common methods of cleaning reddish stains from plasticware include using a mild abrasive and bleaching away the stain. Depending on the amount of staining, it may not be possible to remove it all. Here are some options:
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- Create a paste by mixing baking soda and water. Wipe any food remnants out of the container; then collect some of the paste on your fingers and spread it on the stains in the plastic tub. Let the paste sit for a few minutes and rinse it out. If necessary, repeat the process.
- Mix baking soda and dishwashing liquid. With this process, you combine the mild abrasive action of the baking soda with the grease-cutting power of dish soap. Spread the mixture over the stained area with a sponge, and scrub.
- Use the power of the sun. Wash the plasticware with a concentrated liquid dish soap and allow the plastic to dry. Once it's clean and dry, place it in a windowsill where it will receive direct sunlight. It may take several days of exposure to the sun to fade the stain.
- Use chlorine bleach. To bleach away the stain, mix a tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach into a cup of warm water. Pour the bleach mixture into the container. (If you don't have enough of the mixture to come up to the top of the stain, make another batch and add it to the container.) Allow the diluted bleach to remain in the container for at least 30 minutes. Pour out the bleach mixture and wash the container in hot, soapy water.
Preventing Stains in Plastic Containers
The best cleaner for plastic containers is to prevent stains from occurring in the first place. There are several methods to do this:
- Use glass containers for tomato-based foods. Glass won't stain, so you may choose to keep your leftover spaghetti sauce or chili in a glass container.
- Avoid microwaving tomato-based foods in plastic because that can cause stains to set.
- Spray the container with cooking spray or coat it with cooking oil before you put tomato-based foods into a plastic container. The oil will form a barrier over the plastic that prevents the tomato stains from penetrating the plastic.