How To Get Stains Out Of Plastic Containers

If you make as much pasta as I do, you’ll know it’s a struggle to get tomato-based sauces out of your container collection. Many a plastic container has been ruined by the red/orange stains and faint aroma of Napoletana sauce. Fed up with making all my food vaguely pasta-flavoured, I’ve found some tips to get the pasta out of your containers.

Just in case it wasn’t obvious, I am attempting to wash out the stains of my containers. Despite my best efforts with hot, near-boiling water, detergent and a scrubbing brush, pasta stains and anything else with a tomato-y base like chilli con carne is a jerk to get out. It turns out there’s a reason for this.

Tomatoes contain a nutrient called lycopene, which makes tomatoes red and is the culprit for turning your containers orange. Essentially, it creeps into your partially porous plastic containers and spreads making your efforts with the kitchen detergent moot.

There is a way to rid of the pesky colouring though, here are the best ways to do it.


Aside from being a handy ingredient in cooking poached eggs, vinegar is also extremely useful as a cleaning product if you don’t mind the smell. To do its magic, get one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water and let it soak for a few hours.

Once it’s done, rinse it well to get the vinegary smell out and the deed should be done.

Baking soda

Baking soda is another great cleaning product and should do the job in removing tomato stains from your beloved collection. You’ll need to make a bit of paste mixing water and baking soda and then spreading it around the affected area. Leave it for around an hour and scrub it a bit with a wet cloth before rinsing. It should do the trick.

Denture tablets

You might not have any spare denture tablets laying around but they’re a very cheap way to clean your containers. Grab yourself a 48 pack for under $5, drop two tablets and some hot water in your container and let it sit until the orange is all gone.

Lemon and sun

Before we get to some of the tougher cleaning methods, let’s stick with the natural wonders. Lemon is excellent for both your cocktails and cleaning out stubborn stains. It can be used to de-scale your kettle but turns out, it can also tackle your stained containers.

Cover a cloth in lemon juice and rub the stained area and then pop your container out in the sun. If you’ve worked a good amount into the area, the lemon will react with the sun to rid of your lycopene problem.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol or methylated spirits can be used to rub out the discolouration but if a simple wipe isn’t doing the trick, soak it for 10 minutes or so. Once you’re done with it, make sure you wash it well to get any remnants of the alcohol out.

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, you can try hand sanitiser too but it’s not as strong so it might be less effective.


Keeping in theme of harsh chemicals to blast the tomato out of your container once and for all is bleach. It’s probably the most intensive method to rid of your orange woes but putting one tablespoon of bleach per cup of water and letting it soak for a few hours.

As with the rubbing alcohol tip, make sure you wash it thoroughly to ensure absolutely none of the bleach is left behind.

If you’ve tried every single way and nothing is working for you, it’s best to just count this down to a loss and accept your tomato-stained future.

Lycopene: 1

You: 0


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