How to Remove the Pickle Odor from a Plastic Barrel

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap

  • Newspaper, charcoal or coffee grounds

  • Baking soda

  • Lemon

Large pickle barrels are sized just right to store flour and grains, but the persistent odor of the barrel's former occupant can add an unsavory odor to the food. The acids in the pickle brine work their way into the plastic, but proper deodorizing can remove them so you can reuse your storage barrels for other pantry items.

Absorb the Smell

Step 1

Rinse out the barrel with clear water, and then scrub the interior and lid with hot, soapy water and a mildly abrasive sponge. Rinse a second time with clear water and then completely dry the inside and outside of the barrel.

Step 2

Stuff the barrel with crumpled sheets of newspaper, or place several pieces of new charcoal or a handful or two of coffee grounds inside the barrel. Place the lid on the barrel.

Step 3

Wait at least 24 hours before opening the barrel so the newspaper, charcoal or grounds can absorb as much odor as possible.

Step 4

Remove the deodorizer and rinse out the barrel. Allow it to air dry in a sunny location. If the pickle odor persists, repeat the process a second time.

Soak Out Odors

Step 1

Wash the barrel with hot, soapy water, scrubbing thoroughly.

Step 2

Fill the barrel with water. Stir in 4 tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of water in the container. Soak the barrel in the solution for 24 hours.

Step 3

Empty the baking soda solution from the barrel. Cut a lemon in half and rub the cut half against the insides of the barrel, scrubbing lightly. The lemon juice removes any lingering odors after the baking soda treatment.

Step 4

Rinse the barrel with clear water and dry it in a sunny location.


Natural sunlight helps break down odors. Setting the barrel outdoors in the sun for a few days can sometimes destroy mild pickle smells without the need for additional cleaning.