Wednesday, March 14, 2007

WFMW: Tomato Stains in Plastic Containers

Updated to add: I can not even BELIEVE I forgot to credit Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer for hosting Works for me Wednesday! For more awesome tips, head on over to her pad!

Do you hate how your plastic storage containers (tupperware, rubbermaid, ziploc, etc.) get stained when you store tomato-based sauces in them? Do you hate it when you place the storage container in the dishwasher, and it comes back out red and greasy? Even though it's been washed in the hottest water imaginable, with a bleach-based dishwasher detergent?

Yeah. Me too. So here are a few tips that will help you get clean storage containers when you run them through the dishwasher, tips on how to avoid the stains in the first place, and some ideas on how you can remove old stains on your containers.

1) To get the containers clean when you run them in the dishwasher: first wipe the inside of the container out with a paper towel before placing it into the dishwasher. Yup! It's that easy. Even if you've rinsed it with water, wipe it out with a paper towel. Yes, it can be yucky and messy, but it works.

2) You can use a new product called Cascade Plastic Booster 2 in1 Additive for removing red stains and odors from your plastic containers. For instance ... I had a sippy cup that had old milk in it. I took it apart and ran each piece through the dishwasher, but it still smelled like soured milk. The milk had actually congealed on the inside of the straw! Yuck. I ran it again with the Cascade Plastic Booster, and it really eliminated the odor. Works on plastic cups, plates, containers, kids plastic and rubber covered flatware , etc. Hmmm ... I should try running the plastic bibs Hunter has stained with sauce through the dishwasher! (it comes in a red or a green & blue tube)

3) Now, to avoid the stains all together: do not heat your tomato-based sauces in the plastic containers. But seriously, who takes the time to change to a glass container just to heat it up in the microwave? Not me! Especially when I have a screaming toddler who So, I'm told you should try spraying your container with Pam first prior to nuking. Of course, I don't, but I'm told it works.

4) To remove old stains in your containers, if the Cascade Plastic Booster 2 in1 Additive for removing red stains didn't work (which I can't imagine why it wouldn't), then try any of the following ideas:

a) Leave the tomato stained container out in the sun a few hours and the stain
is supposed to vanish. I've heard it really works ... and it works on those stained spatulas and plastic white cooking tools

b) Use a baking soda paste (baking soda and water) and rub into the stain.

c) You can pour bleach in the container and let it sit for a few minutes.

d) Fill the container to the top with hot water and plop a couple denture tablets in.

Out of all these methods, I personally prefer to wipe the inside out with a paper towel and place it in the dishwasher and allow the dishwasher to do the work. It has always worked for me, even if I microwaved it first, which I frequently do, without spraying it with Pam, and if I do this extra step, then I generally have no need for Cascade's Plastic Booster 2 in1 for removing red stains.

Finally... I have read, and I've been told, that once your container is stained, it has become a permanent part of the molecular structure of the plastic. If this is true, and nothing I try removes old stains, I usually continue to re-use it -- stain and all.

EXCEPT ... and this is very important ... if your plastic container is peeling or is scared or marred from microwaving it, THROW IT OUT. The chemicals used to make the container can leech out into the food. If that doesn't seem to worry you, then maybe you're not aware that the plastic container you're using to heat up your food in is a petroleum-based product. Yuck! Toss it!

Hope these tips help you out!


Susanne said...

We're notorious for eventually wrecking plastic containers. I reuse them if stained but like you said as soon as the plastic starts to go get rid of it.

Kristen said...

Wow. Those are some great tips. I don't even like using those plastic containers anymore after they have tomato stains in them. They somehow just don't feel clean anymore.

Thanks for the great tips!

Marcia said...

Hi Gibee

I can vouch for spraying the container first with a cooking spray - here in SA we call it Spray and Cook.

It makes it so easy to clean. I do this whenever I make a casserole too. Just try it and see.

Have a great week.


Jennifer said...

Yeah--I don't mind a little reddish tinge myself, and I throw them away once they've really had it.

Sandy said...

You sound like the next Heloise! Go girl!

Jane said...

I have to try that plastic booster on my submersible blender. It is so stained from carrot soup and pasta sauce. I shouldn't really care as it is clean and being stained doesn't change it's performance, but it would be so nice if it were not stained!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Thanks for all the detailed tips! I will definitely have to try them, especially the paper towel and the PAM one.

Mike said...

How about that? I'm just thinking of ways to remove the stains in our container. So glad I stopped by.