The Surprisingly Filthy Kitchen Item That’s Hiding in Plain Sight

published May 6, 2023
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counter with glass containers full of food prep: berries, pasta, salad, beans
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

Saving (and actually eating) leftovers can be a great way to save money and work smarter, not harder in the kitchen. When it comes to leftover storage, I personally use both reusable silicone bags for things like a leftover half of a lemon, and glass food storage for things like the onion that I diced in the morning for that night’s dinner, or for cooked leftovers, like spaghetti and meatballs. 

Recently, I was stopped dead in my scroll by an Instagram video about food storage. Debbie of A Life Better Organized shared a video of a food storage maintenance task that had never occurred to me: cleaning the rubber gaskets on glass containers. 

Debbie notes in the caption, “I’ll admit, I never thought to remove and clean these rubber seals. (You should see what’s under them).” It makes sense that these would get dirty, like they are in the video — and that they’d need routine cleaning. Think of all the food that comes in contact with the gaskets and gets trapped, allowing bacteria to grow. The thought of all that yuck coming into contact with whatever else I put into the containers, time after time, was enough to make me run to the kitchen to clean them all right that second.

Debbie demonstrates how she cleans her storage container gaskets, using a cuticle cutter to pry the gasket out of the lid and then making a solution of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap to soak the gaskets before rinsing and drying. In the comments, however, she agrees with others that it would be easier to just toss them in the dishwasher. 

Immediately upon seeing Debbie’s post, I put cleaning the gaskets of my food storage containers at the top of my to-do list. Interestingly enough, when I went to do it, I found that the gaskets on my food storage containers weren’t removable. (I have Snapware Pyrex containers that I bought at Costco.) Even though I couldn’t remove them, I did carefully inspect the gaskets on the lid to confirm that no food particles or even water can get under or around them. 

I did a little digging and found that OXO Good Grips makes storage containers with removable gaskets. It’s worth checking to see if your glass food storage containers have removable gaskets, and making plans to clean them if so. 

Along with food storage gaskets, consider the other gaskets in your kitchen that need cleaning, including the gasket around the Instant Pot lid, water bottles, blender blades, and travel mugs. All of these could use periodic removal and cleaning to address the buildup of bacteria and possibly mold. Just make sure not to stretch the gaskets so that you don’t compromise the quality of the seal and so they’re easy to fit back where they belong.