How To Remove Tomato Stains From Plastic

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My family loves to save our leftovers, but until recently I didn't know how to remove tomato stains from plastic containers.

You know what I'm talking about, right?

When you empty that plastic container and run it through the dishwasher but it comes out kinda orange in color still.

3 tips for how to remove tomato stains from plastic containers, such as leftover containers, plus an additional tip to help you prevent those stains from forming in the first place {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
Well, I have discovered three methods for cleaning up these stains.

They are as follows:

Bleach It Out With Chlorine Bleach

You can add a tablespoon of chlorine bleach to a tomato stained plastic bowl or other container filled with water and let it soak for about thirty minutes.

Once you remove the water and bleach solution the stain should also be gone.

Use The Bleaching Power Of The Sun

You can also set your plastic containers out on a sunny day and the sun will bleach those tomato stains away.

The only problem with this method is that repeat exposure to sun and heat will eventually make your plastic containers brittle.

Hint: Lots of stains can be removed with sunlight, so check out the article at the link if you want to know more!

Make A Paste Of Dishwasher Detergent

The third method is to make a paste of dishwasher detergent and hot water and rub this onto the stains and let it sit for a while.

After about thirty minutes rinse off the paste and see clean, stain free plastic.

Additional hint: Did you know there are lots of unusual uses for dishwasher detergent for cleaning and stain removal? I've got more uses listed at the link!

Additional Tip: How To Prevent Tomato Stains In Plastic

A simple way to prevent these stains from occurring in your plastic containers in the first place is to spray them with cooking spray, coating all the sides and bottoms, before adding any food which contains tomatoes to it.

So, how do you clean tomato stains off your plastic containers? Please tell me in the comments.

You can also submit your own tomato sauce stain removal tips here, or read other tips which have already been submitted.

In addition, plastic containers can get stained with all types of things, not just spaghetti and tomato sauce. You can share your tips for cleaning plastic here, or read other tips already submitted.

3 tips for how to remove tomato stains from plastic containers, such as leftover containers, plus an additional tip to help you prevent those stains from forming in the first place {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Top photo courtesy of armigeress

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Comments for How To Remove Tomato Stains From Plastic

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I never thought of sunlight
by: Rachel

I love natural ways to clean, and hadn't thought of using sunlight for removing stains from plastic.

I'll definitely be trying this one out!

Sunlight soap
by: Michelle

I use my dishwasher to wash all my dishes but always soak my plastics that are stained in hot water with a bit of Sunlight soap. Works every time.

Baking soda
by: Cheryl

Baking soda paste works for me.

bleach for my plasticware
by: Carrie

I just use a bleach solution for my plasticware. I went to culinary school and that's what almost all restaurants use to sanitize their counters and tables. If bleach isn't your thing, I guess there's vinegar, but I personally never liked the smell it left behind.

Other Preventative Measures
by: Larissa

Other ways to prevent the stains are to not put the food in the container while it's still hot, and to not microwave the food in it. I don't have a microwave, so all my reheating gets done in pots or pans, so I don't have to deal with these issues, thankfully!

'Jif It'...!
by: Anonymous

'Jif it'! Use the normal scourer with Jif, then rinse and then do it again using the normal detergent to give it a final clean. But Jif cream gets it off easily.

Taylor's note: For us non-Aussies, this is a Unilever product that is also known as Cif. Cif is the largest selling abrasive cleaner product in the world, but it is not sold in the United States.

Easy to clean plastic containers
by: Linda Bailey

I use baking soda and Dawn dish liquid. Add hot water, let them soak for a little while, then rinse and they are looking new.

don't use bleach
by: Kimbre Bellhouse

I would never use bleach to remove stains from plastic because it breaks the plastic it down and it's poison if not washed out thoroughly.

Try using a baking soda and vinegar paste, then wash normally in warm water.

When you rinse any plastic container that has foods in it that can stain always rinse in COLD water. Plus never put hot or warm stainable foods in plastic containers. Wait until it is totally cooled off.

dish detergent
by: Missy

I have found that if you rinse the dish with hot water and then take normal dish detergent and rub it over the area and let it set for a little it will rinse right off!

use olive oil
by: Clauda Berube

Quick way to remove a tomato sauce stain from plastic: use olive oil on the stain using a small amount on a piece of paper towel and wipe the stain off! That's it!

Put some cold water on it!
by: Anonymous

Run the item under cold water BEFORE you put it in the dishwasher, scrubbing the whole time with a sponge or dishcloth. The pores of the plastic contract making it easier to wash away the red sauce before it stains, with regular soapy dishwater.

Cascade used to make something for this
by: Sheila

I used to buy the product from Cascade that was especially for this. It was AWESOME! Worked every time. But they quit making it. Still don't understand why. Very sad day when I could no longer get it.

use a lemon
by: Katherine

Soak it with hot water and lemon.

paste of baking soda and dish soap
by: Bobbi

Make a paste of baking soda and dish soap with a bit of water, spread it around the inside of the container and let set for a few minutes. Hand wash as usual. This also works for greasy/oil residue on plastic.

I gave up trying
by: Pauline

I gave up trying to get the stains out so I keep using the same containers for the same things.

use glass for tomato sauce dishes
by: Debra

I was a Tupperware manager and I love my Tupperware. But I prefer to use glass Pyrex containers for my tomato sauce dishes. They are microwavable and they have snap on lids and are great.

Simple Green
by: Andrea

Simple Green works wonderfully. Spray on, let sit for a minute and then wash as normal.

Vegetable oil
by: Anonymous

Just use vegetable oil.

bleach spray
by: Lesa

I spray my plastic containers with bleach spray and let sit for a few minutes before rinsing. Works every time!

Cooking spray to prevent stains, vinegar once stained
by: Anonymous

Cooking spray - Coat the interior of the plastic container with ("PAM") before adding tomato.

Once it is stained add white vinegar and soak a while. Rinse and repeat if needed. Once ALL visible stain is gone wash as usual.

line container first with wax paper
by: Anonymous

If it's practical line the container with wax paper before adding tomato.

Cold water rinse before washing
by: Dawn

When your plastic needs washing our first instinct is to fill it with hot soapy water. The hot water actually sets the stain. First, fill the container with cold, soapy water and let the grease congeal. Then you can put it in the dishwasher or hand wash as you normally would. This will usually keep the container from staining.

Bar Keepers Friend
by: Annie

Bar Keepers Friend may work for this problem.

put leftovers in a freezer bag
by: Vikki

These are good ideas but nothing has ever worked for me, so now I line the container with a freezer bag then pour the leftovers in to the bag. Just twist the top and put the lid on. When you want to use the leftovers just squeeze them out of the bag. No stains on your precious Tupperware!

ice water
by: Anonymous

My mom fills the container with ice water and lets it sit for about 30 minutes to an hour before putting spaghetti, or any tomato based sauce in it. So far so good, no stains on the containers at all.

Cascade stain remover used benzoyl peroxide
by: Anonymous

The chemical in the since remove Cascade stain remover was benzoyl peroxide which can be bought as a 10% wash solution--Walmart online about 5.00 dollars. Use a few drops in hot water--soak 20 to 30 minutes and there you have it.

Baking Soda and Vinegar
by: Diann

Just put some baking soda in the container with a little vinegar, rub it around in the container, also the lid, or let it sit for a few minutes and you're done! Rinse, color is gone, so is the odor!

by: Anonymous

Use olive oil and rub with your finger.

by: Mary

To remove tomato stains from plastic I put in ammonia and Dawn dish detergent and let is sit for a about 5 minutes or so and then wash out. Then I put in the dishwasher. I have found once the stained container is washed in the dishwasher the stains are barely removable.

Cold Water
by: Mary

After you empty your leftovers bowl wash if first with COLD water and dish soap. This removes the grease/tomato stain. It is important to wash and rinse with cold water first. Then wash with warm soapy water or put in the dishwasher as normal. All of our mothers taught us that HEAT sets the stain. COLD WATER first.

Fatty Sauce a no no
by: Matt

If you plan to store your extra sauce in plastic containers. remove all of the excess fat and oil.

Use a piece of bread floating it on-top of the sauce (this is what leaves the discoloration.)

Spray the container with PAM this will act as a buffer.

Let the sauce cool before ladling the sauce into the container.

When reheating transfer it out of the plastic.

You will have the easiest cleaning experience ever.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Pads
by: Nancy Huff

I use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Pads.

using bleach for tomato stains
by: JC

I used to work in a restaurant where we mixed up hamburger seasoning in plastic tubs. When they started to turn red/orange, we would fill them with water and add a few drops of bleach. When the stains were gone, we would dump out the bleach water and wash them as usual. Easy-peasy.

That old Cascade product...Plastic Booster!
by: SRBruno

This product was great and now it is gone. Upon research of the magic "ingredient" in hopes of duplicating its effect, I found that it was benzoyl peroxide. YES, the stuff you use on your face to clear up acne. Check out their MSDS (material safety data sheet) and under ingredients at the bottom it states benzoyl peroxide 1-5%.

I have since (years now) been using benzoyl peroxide WASH 10% but will try 5% next time but this 10% works like a dream. I only use the amount the size of a peanut M&M. I am not telling you that YOU should use this. I am stating this is what I use since I found out the ingredient. If you try it on your own, that is YOUR prerogative. Just dealing with the facts here. :) I don't need someone who has some off-the-wall allergy, if they try it, telling me I am to blame. Take responsibility for yourself. If you were fine using the cascade product then there should be no problem. If you are a "trouble maker" in this world, then stay clear and eat out of your reddish-orange stinky plastic bowls!

plastic food container stains
by: Bob

On the smaller containers, you could line the container with plastic wrap first. A bit tedious, but if done right, it could keep the stains off.

by: Anonymous

I've had good luck soaking them with hot water and Oxiclean! Chlorine bleach delaminates the plastic.

another vote for Oxiclean
by: Steve

I use Oxiclean for this and coffee stained mugs.

some can't be saved
by: Marsha

Some tomato stained plastic cannot be restored to normal. The stain remains no matter what is used and that includes pure chlorine bleach.

Plastic storage of foods
by: Anonymous

The reason you are seeing tomato stain on plastic is that any acidic, hot (temperature) or oily foods that are stored in plastic starts a process where the unstable plastic molecules of the container migrate out of the plastic and into your food while the food becomes embedded in the plastic. It is much safer to store these kinds of foods in glass. Most plastics contain BPA a chemical which makes the plastic more rigid although many manufacturers have gone to BPA free - except they use BPS which is the same chemical family. BPA is a xenoestrogen, exhibiting estrogen-mimicking, hormone-like properties that raise concern about its suitability in some consumer products and food containers. So to be safe, ditch the plastic for these types of products and use glass containers.

Cleaning Plastic
by: Anonymous

Mr Clean srubbing pads

Citri Solv
by: UnderwaterSurfer

The best cleaner I have found is Citra Solv. I put a drop on the plastic and it turned red fairly quickly. It is also very good at removing the goo from labels on jars.

Oxiclean works like a charm
by: FiberArtist

Oxiclean. A small amount with luke warm water and let it soak for an hour. Wash in warm water with dish detergent. I usually add the oxiclean soaking water to the sink of detergent water. Depending on the plastic I have found bleach can leave an odor.

how I do it
by: Diana Randall

Wash in hot, soapy water. Wipe out thoroughly with paper towel. Run through dishwasher as usual.

by: Gerry

Clean container normally and then place clean container in sunlight for the afternoon. Have never had this fail.

use denture tablets
by: Steve Kreuter

Place hot tap water in you container. Then add one or two denture cleaning tablets to the container. Wait 20 minutes, rinse and put through dishwasher as normal. Best solution I have found.

I also use denture cleaning tablets
by: Jen

I use denture cleaning tablets for cleaning tomato stains from my plastic food containers. Dissolve a tablet or 2 in boiling water and allow to stand overnight.

Prevention is the key
by: Judy

Don't put it in the dishwasher until you take a paper towel and wipe around it to collect the residue and oils. Maybe you will need a second towel depending on the size of the container. Then pop it into the dishwasher and voila. All clean, no stains to bleach or sit in the sun. Prevention is the key!

chilli stains
by: Leah

How do you remove stains on plastic tubs, stained from food like chilli?

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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.