Get rid of the orange tint once and for all.

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Credit: Annie Schlechter

If you've ever made a big batch of homemade marinara sauce or brought leftover pasta to work for lunch, then you've likely experienced the struggle of trying to clean an empty food container that has been stained with tomato sauce. A clear or pale pink plastic container can take on a muted shade of orange—one that no amount of dish soap and hot water can seem to remove. So, what's the secret to removing those pesky stains? A combination of baking soda, dish soap, and water, according to Becky Rapinchuck of the blog Clean Mama.

To make the baking soda-based solution, mix together two tablespoons baking soda, one teaspoon water, and ¼ teaspoon dish soap. Mix up the paste in the stained food container, scrub, and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Scrub and rinse and repeat if necessary. Stephanie Olinski, Director of Production at W&P, agrees. "For our Porter Plastic Bowls ($25, nordstrom.com), the best way to remove sauce stains, especially from tomato-based products, is through the tried-and-true baking soda method."

But why do these containers stain so easily? Rapinchuck says that plastic containers can absorb an acidic red sauce if the food is poured into it while hot, or if the product containing tomato-based food is heated in a microwave.

If you're worried about plastic containers absorbing tomato stains, store anything made with marinara sauce or tomato paste in a glass or ceramic container for easier clean-up. Or wash and reuse old tomato sauce jars to store homemade marinara sauce or pasta leftovers, which are both eco-friendly solutions and a breeze to wash.

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
July 8, 2021
When using a plastic container to store food with a tomato based sauce, wash it in cold water first to remove all the tomato sauce. It comes out much easier in cold water Afterwards, wash it in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher and there will be no stains. Also, cold water works best to remove foods that include parmesan cheese. I always follow with a hot wash once all traces of the food is gone.
Martha Stewart Member
January 25, 2021
Hello, I want to share with you a simple trick that I learned a long time ago, if you are going to use a plastic container to store marinara sauce or anything that has tomatoes that will stain, spray some Pam cooking spray into your container before you store your tomato sauce and it will not stain your plastic containers, it washes right out, you can do the same with your utensils/spatulas it works like a charm:) Happy Cooking:)