How to Remove Food Stains From Plastic Containers

When stored in plastic containers, leftovers often leave food stains and odours. Even after washing, discolouration from food can remain on the plastic. Removing these stains can be difficult because the food creates a colour stain in the plastic, rather than just sitting on the surface. Effective stain removing supplies and techniques help you get rid of the food stain, leaving your plastic container looking and smelling clean.

Rub lemon wedges over the food-stained area of your plastic containers. Set the containers in direct sunlight and allow them to dry. The lemon and sunlight work together to bleach the food stains out of the plastic.

Rinse your plastic containers off to remove the lemon juice and then check to see if any food stains remain.

Wet a clean sponge with straight white vinegar. Wipe the stained areas of the plastic containers to remove the remaining stains.

Sprinkle baking soda onto the vinegar-soaked sponge to add a cleansing boost to the vinegar. Baking soda is a natural abrasive, safe for plastic surfaces and will work with the vinegar to remove the food stains as well as their odours.


Wash plastic containers with hot water and a grease-cutting dishwashing detergent to remove fresh food stains. Soak a severely food-stained plastic container in a solution made of 1 tbsp bleach and 1/2 cup water. Rinse well with water and allow the container to dry. The bleach will dissipate from the surface as it dries.

Things You'll Need

  • Lemon wedges
  • White vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Baking soda
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.