Plastic is found everywhere in the kitchen, from ubiquitous cutting boards to storage to utensils designed for nonstick cookware. At some point in its life, each plastic item will inevitably become stained and discolored.
To keep your containers and other plastic items like drinking glasses, mixing bowls, colanders, spoons, spatulas, and even laminate blemish free, apply one more of the techniques outlined below, using handy household cleaners.
Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean coffee, tea, tomato sauce and tomato paste, juice and soda stains, and discoloration caused by most types of food dyes.
Usually, the discoloration can be removed if you rinse the item immediately after applying the alcohol, or by washing it with water and detergent. If the blemish doesn’t disappear, then pour the alcohol into the container and let it sit for a few minutes.
If the item isn’t a container, then pour the alcohol into something that can hold whatever needs to be soaked. When the item is stain free, wash it, rinse it thoroughly, and dry.
This is a variation of the technique posted above. You can use hand sanitizer to clean your plastic ware – its active ingredient is alcohol.
Squirt some into the container, rub, wash, rinse, and dry.
Removing blemishes from plastic can also be done by using chlorine bleach. Bleach can be used to remove ink, juice, soda, coffee, tea, tomato sauce and tomato paste stains, and all other types of food dyes.
Make a solution of water and bleach, using one tablespoon of bleach per cup of water. Let the containers and other items soak in the solution for one or two hours. After the stains are gone, wash the containers thoroughly, rinse, and dry.
This is similar to using chlorine bleach. In fact, you can use the same ratio as for a bleach and water solution, with one tablespoon vinegar per cup of water. If you have concerns about using bleach in your containers, vinegar is a great alternative.
It is a natural food-safe substance and is made with organic compounds that are easily absorbed by the body. It even provides various benefits in foods, such as improved digestion.
Moreover, when used for cleaning purposes, it spells death for almost all single-celled organisms like bacteria, and it kills viruses as well.
For stain removal, follow the same directions as outlined for the chlorine bleach technique. Vinegar is also great at removing hard water spots.
Baking Soda Paste
Baking soda can also remove all of the stains that have been mentioned above, and it is also good for removing oily residues.
Just make a baking soda paste with water and apply it to the discolored container. Let it sit for a twenty or thirty minutes, and then clean the container with a moist cloth. Wash, rinse, and dry.
Since denture tablets are so good at removing discoloration from dentures, I decided to try it with my containers and other plastic items, and found that it works very well.
Put 2 tablets in some hot water and pour the mixture into your stained container. Let sit until all discoloration is gone. Wash, rinse, and dry.
This is the same as using denture tablets. Put 2 tablets and warm water in the container and let it sit for one or two hours before washing. If the blemish didn’t come out, let it continue to sit overnight.
Just rub the container or other item with lemon juice and leave it in the sun for 1 or 2 days. A combination of the lemon and the sun’s UV light will remove discoloration, and it will also kill bacteria. Read more about cleaning with lemon here.
Use a damp cloth, warm water, and salt to rub the stain away. Repeat this process until discoloration no longer remains.
Dawn Power Dissolver
Dawn Power Dissolver is designed to remove stains, so try it with your plastic items.
Just soak your containers and other items in warm water and Dawn for at least 30 minutes to one hour. When the discoloration is gone, rinse and dry.
Cascade Plastic Booster
Simply running your plastic ware through the dishwasher with this Cascade product will remove stains.
It will also help your containers and other plastic items to last much longer, especially if you clean them regularly in the dishwasher.
Extending the Life of Plastic Ware
If you find that your plastic containers and other items age before their time and become unsightly, try some of the cleaning methods outlined above to remove the blemishes rather than disposing of them right away.
It’s important to remember that plastic is very porous, and will soak up whatever is put on it. As a result, you may have some concerns about using bleach to clean it. If you do use bleach, make sure it is diluted with water.
Stuck with Tomato Stains
Another note I would like to point out is that you cannot remove tomato discoloration from plastic that has been microwaved. The heat from the temperature of the oven has literally baked the stain in, and it is now part of the structure of the container.
The best thing to do is not to put anything with tomato sauce or tomato paste in your plastic containers, or you’ll have to live with the results of the blemishes. It’s better not to use plastic at all for tomato-based items.
Try glass for storage of these items instead. Glassware often makes much more sense, and has the added benefit of being chemically inert. It will not leach harmful chemicals into your food.
What’s your favorite household tip for cleaning unsightly stains from plastic cookware? Let us know in the comments!
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!