How To Get Stains Out Of Tupperware: 7 Easy DIY Methods


Plastic food storage containers, including Tupperware, are very popular for transporting food and storing leftovers. However, plastic is prone to staining, making the container look unclean and unsanitary.

To remove these stains, you can try a variety of simple methods such as:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Baking soda paste
  • Hydrogen peroxide paste
  • Sugar and ice cubes
  • Dish detergent shaken with paper towels
  • Denture cleaner or Alka Seltzer
  • Commercial products

Why Does Plastic Stain?

Many plastics can stain easily, especially when in contact with heat, oils, and acidic food materials. 

Hot acidic foods, such as tomato or curry sauce, will go into the pores of plastic and settle in. Cooking foods in plastic in the microwave, or heating the residue on plastic containers in the dishwasher, can make stains more permanent. 

Using heat is much like ironing. If you iron over a stain, it will open the fibers of the fabric, allowing the stain to settle deeply and more permanently.

Not all plastics should be used in the microwave due to the release of toxic chemicals, such as BPA, into your food. Tupperware is safe for microwave use and does not contain BPA. However, that does not mean it is stain-proof.

How To Clean And Get Stains Out Of Tupperware

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To get stains out, you will need to open the pores of the plastic with heat or a colorless acid, combined with scrubbing action. 

These methods can work on new and old stains, keeping in mind that stubborn stains may need repetition or the use of alternative methods listed in this article.

While you may be tempted to use bleach, it is not recommended, since it can settle into the pores and could alter the taste of your food, posing a hazard. Additionally, bleach can turn plastics yellow.

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1. Hand Sanitizer

This method is one of the easiest and most effective ways of getting stains out of plastic. Opt for a hand sanitizer that has a minimum of 60% alcohol, and does not have any other additives, such as aloe. 

This can use quite a bit of product, so opt for an inexpensive bottle. Alcohol in general is a weak acid and cleansing disinfectant. It does not wash away debris like soap, but it can effectively remove stains.

Materials NeededWhat to Do

  • Hand sanitizer (60% minimum alcohol content)

  • Cloth/Paper towels

  • Dish Detergent

  • Water

  1. Pour hand sanitizer onto the stain. Be generous in the amount you use to fully cover the area.

  2. Put the lid on and shake.

  3. Let it sit for 45 minutes.

  4. Empty the container into the sink drain.

  5. Wipe the container down with a damp cloth or paper towel.

  6. Wash and rinse with dish detergent.

Alternatively, you can use rubbing alcohol. Follow safety precautions for this product. Make sure you wash the container thoroughly after removing the stain. 

2. Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is a mildly abrasive substance that can scrub away stains. It is an excellent odor remover as well.

Materials NeededWhat to Do

  • Baking soda

  • Hot water

  • Bowl

  • Scrub brush/abrasive sponge

  • Dish detergent (optional)

  1. Make a paste of baking soda and water directly in a small bowl. 

    • Ideally, you want a little bit of water with the baking soda to form a spreadable paste.

  2. Heat the plastic container by running it under the hottest tap water setting. Use care not to burn yourself.

  3. Apply and scrub the paste onto the stains. 

    • At this point, you can add a few drops of dish detergent to remove any oily residue and offer additional stain-fighting power.

  4. Let it sit overnight.

  5. Wash, rinse, and repeat if necessary.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide Paste

Hydrogen peroxide is an effective disinfectant that can help to remove stains, especially when used with the scrubbing power of baking soda.

Materials NeededWhat to Do

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Baking soda

  • Water

  • Small bowl

  • Paper towel or sponge

  1. Apply hydrogen peroxide to the stained areas.

  2. Let it sit for one minute. Make a baking soda paste during this time.

  3. Mix a small amount of water with baking soda. Spread the paste on the stained areas, using a paper towel.

  4. Let it sit for one minute.

  5. Rinse, wash, and repeat if necessary.

Alternatively, you can try vinegar or lemon juice instead of hydrogen peroxide, but you may find that they are not as effective.

4. Dish Detergent, Sugar, And Ice Cubes

Sugar can work much like an exfoliant does on our skin, abrasively removing blemishes. This method works best if the stains are on the bottom portion of your plastic container.

Materials NeededWhat to Do

  • ¼-cup sugar

  • Dish detergent

  • 3 tablespoons of warm water

  • 5 ice cubes

  • Scrub brush

  1. Pour the sugar into the bottom of the container. 

  2. Add the warm water, ice cubes, and a generous squirt of dish detergent. 

  3. Cover and let it sit to allow the ice cubes to melt, approximately an hour depending upon your home’s internal temperature.

  4. Dump out the contents, and some sugar should be sticking to the bottom. Scrub this sugar into the surface.

  5. Rinse, wash, and dry.

Alternatively, you can try this method with salt.

5. Dish Detergent With Paper Towel Pieces

This method is a trend on social media that is easy and quick to do. However, it is inconsistent, so you may need to try other methods in this article as well. 

This method is not much different than washing and scrubbing the container with a scrub brush, but you might find it fun!

Materials NeededWhat to Do

  • Dish detergent

  • Water

  • Paper towel

  1. Rip up a few pieces of paper towel about the size of your palm. Place them into the container.

  2. Put a few generous squirts of dish detergent into the stained container.

  3. Add hot tap water, filling the container about one-third full.

  4. Put on the lid, and vigorously shake it for one minute. 

    • Do this over the sink in case of leaks.

    • For stubborn stains, let it sit for 5 minutes.

  5. Empty the container, keeping paper towels out of the drain.

  6. Rinse and then repeat as needed or try an alternative method.

6. Denture Cleaner Or Alka Seltzer Tablets

Denture cleaner has ingredients in it that remove stains not only effectively from dentures, but from plastic as well.

Simply do the following:

  1. Fill your container with hot tap water. 
  2. Add two denture tablets. 
  3. Let it sit overnight. 
  4. Rinse and wash with dish detergent.

Alternatively, you can use Alka Seltzer tablets in the same way.

7. Commercial Products

A quick search online can offer you stain dissolvers that often are used in dishwashers. Make sure you read the information label to ensure you can safely use it on your plasticware.

You can also use a Magic Eraser or Oxyclean to get rid of stains. Make sure you completely rinse and clean out the containers before using them again with food.

What To Do To Avoid Stains

If you wish to avoid stains altogether, opt for glass storage ware that will not stain. Responsibly recycle the plastic containers.

Allow leftover food to cool in glass containers or in the cookware in the refrigerator, then transfer them to plastic. This prevents the pores of the plastic from being opened.

For plastic food storage, spray cooking spray into the container before putting staining foods inside it. The oil will create a barrier, reducing the chances of staining. If the oil leaves a residue, you can use the cleaning methods above to get rid of it. 

Alternatively, you could lay down parchment paper to line the inside of your plastic ware.

In Conclusion

Stained plastic ware looks unappealing and can seem difficult to clean. The alcohol in hand sanitizer or the abrasive quality of baking soda are two very effective options for removing stains. Dish detergent paired with a little elbow grease can also help to remove stains.

When faced with stained plastic, don’t toss it away! There are several methods you can try as outlined in this article, that can get it in good shape again.