6 Ways to Clean Smelly Plastic Containers Without Harsh Chemicals

updated Sep 30, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Even if you prefer to use glass containers for your meal prep and leftovers, chances are you still have a small stockpile of plastic containers in your kitchen. And that means you’ve likely spent some real time wondering how to get smells out of plastic. Because no matter how thoroughly you scrub them, there comes a point where all plastic containers start to smell a little … stale. This post is for those of you nodding along. Those of you have have plastic containers that could use a little freshening up. Here are six things to use to get bad smells out of plastic containers — excluding any and all harsh chemicals.

Note: Always start by giving your container a good scrub with soap and hot water. Then try one of these methods to get rid of lingering odors.

Related: The Best Way to Get Stains Out of Plastic Containers

1. Newspaper

Crumple up some newspaper and stuff it into the container. Snap on the lid and leave it overnight or longer.

2. Charcoal

Place a piece of charcoal in the container. Seal the lid shut and let the whole thing sit until the odor has been absorbed.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Baking Soda

Sprinkle in some baking soda and add a bit of water to make a paste. Rub the paste all over the inside of the container. Let it sit for a day or two and wash off. Repeat if necessary.

4. Lemon

Rinse the container with lemon juice or rub a cut lemon all over the interior surface.

5. Coffee Grounds

Place used coffee grounds (wet or dry) in the container and let the whole thing sit until odor is gone.

6. Sunshine

Place your containers outside on a sunny day to simultaneously air them out and take advantage of the odor-fighting power of the sun.

Do you have any other tips for removing odors from plastic food containers? Leave your ideas in the comments below!