It's no secret that plastic food containers aren't the most sustainable items. However, if you already have a stash on hand — or if you like to reuse takeout containers — it's worth trying to extend their lifespan by keeping them in good shape. This includes removing grease stains, which are commonly left behind by tomato-based sauces. The only catch? Those stains can be an actual headache to remove.
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Luckily, there's a hack for that. In a popular TikTok video, @simplelifeehacks folds a paper towel until it's small enough to fit into a greasy, stained plastic container. Next, they add some water and dish soap, then secure the lid before giving it a good shake. (In the comments section, they note that they shook the container for less than a minute.) The final shot of the video shows a clean, stain-free container.
Some commenters on the video declared that the hack totally works, while others had no such success. That said, keep in mind that different recipes contain different ingredients, ultimately producing different grease stains. The type of soap is also a factor, as the hack will likely work better with a soap that's specifically designed to cut grease. Either way, it doesn't hurt to attempt the technique, especially if you're trying to save a particular container.
You can also use this hack to clean plastic condiment or sauce jars. In this case, crumple up the paper towel instead of folding it into a square. Once you remove the sticker label, you'll have a brand "new" jar that's ready to be reused.
Other ways to remove stains from plastic containers:
When it comes to tough food stains, baking soda can be a lifesaver. After all, it's abrasive yet gentle, making it useful for removing stains without damaging surfaces. For a stained plastic container, make a paste by mixing baking soda and a bit of water. You can also add a drop of dish soap. Apply the paste to the stains, let it sit for a few minutes — or overnight, if you have the time — and then scrub.
Kirsten Nunez is a writer and author who focuses on food, health, and DIY. In May 2014, she published a craft book, "Studs & Pearls: 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion." Her work has appeared on eHow, Martha Stewart, Shape, VegNews, and more. She lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York.