The Brilliant Reddit Trick That’ll Keep Your Food Storage Containers Looking Like New

published Aug 12, 2021
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Someone scooping spaghetti leftovers into food storage container.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Whether you’re a meal prepper, a batch cooker, or a leftovers enthusiast, you likely know the value of a good food storage container. You know that you need containers that are properly sized, have tight-fitting lids, nest for storage, and ideally don’t have lingering stinks or stains.

And if you use plastic food storage containers, you also probably know that certain foods are more likely to stain or leave odors behind. Tomato dishes, for example, can be big offenders. Ditto for anything greasy or acidic. To fix my old containers, I’ve tried all the tricks in the book — even this viral TikTok hack, where you add paper towel, dish soap, and water to a container and shake aggressively. None of it worked. 

Because removing tomato sauce from plastic after the fact doesn’t seem all that likely, I wondered if there was a way to prevent it from happening in the first place. You know, aside from no longer saving leftover ziti. With a little research, I found a promising method, and it involves just one ingredient most of us already have on hand. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Spritz Plastic Containers with Cooking Spray Before You Fill Them

Here’s the trick: Rather than trying to deal with pesky stains and smells later, you can spray plastic food containers with nonstick cooking spray before you add acidic or saucy foods. According to some super-smart Redditors, the spray coats the plastic in a protective layer, preventing the container from absorbing the color or smell of the stored food. Plus, thanks to the little bit of oil, the food should slide right out when you’re ready to transfer it to a plate!

Admittedly, there are better ways to store food than in plastic. I’m currently in the process of overhauling my own collection of food storage containers to glass, a more sustainable and easier-to-clean option. But for the time being, I’m going to rely on this trick. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’ll have me even more excited for leftovers. (If you’re a fan of leftovers, you get it.)

How do you keep your plastic food storage containers looking new? Tell us in the comments below.