How to deodorize smelly plastic food containers

Updated February 21, 2017

Plastic has become a daily part of life. You dispose of garbage in plastic bags, buy children plastic toys, drink out of plastic mugs and store food in plastic containers. Because plastic containers are made from polypropylene, they are porous. Food odours can stay in the plastic if the food is stored for a long period of time. If you hate the idea of throwing out the containers when they get smelly, there are ways to clean them and eliminate the smell. Ideal cleaning agents are right in your kitchen, so look around you and you will find what you need to deodorise smelly plastic food containers.

Get out the automatic dishwasher detergent. Fill the container with hot water and one to two teaspoons of automatic dishwasher detergent. Shake it up to get the detergent sudsy and then let it sit overnight. In the morning, rinse out the container. If the smell is still there, add baking soda and warm water and soak again. This should finish the job and you will have a pleasant smelling plastic container.

Reach for the baking soda. Make a paste out of baking soda and warm water. Coat the entire plastic container on the inside, cover and let it sit for a day or overnight. Thoroughly rinse. Try sprinkling the baking soda into the container, shake it around, cover and let it sit for a day. Rinse thoroughly.

Grab the vinegar. Fill the container with warm water and 1/4 cup of vinegar. dd a few drops of dish detergent and shake. Set aside for a few hours, then rinse completely. Out of vinegar? Try lemon juice.

Pull out the vanilla. Rub the container with vanilla and let it sit overnight. Or, put the vanilla in warm water, shake, and let it sit out overnight. Wash thoroughly in the morning.

Open up that bag of coffee beans. Coffee beans or used coffee grounds are great deodorisers. In fact, dry coffee grounds left in the refrigerator work like baking soda. The grounds will soak up odours. Either place a few coffee beans in the container or place dried coffee grounds in the container. Cover and let set for a day or overnight. The beans or grounds should take care of the odours. Dry the coffee grounds by spreading them out on a baking tray.

Plastic containers are a convenient way to store food, but they do collect odours. Before throwing them away, try out the deodorising ingredients right in your kitchen. You may save some money.

Things You'll Need

  • Automatic dishwasher detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Coffee beans or coffee grinds
  • Vanilla
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About the Author

Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.