How to Degrease Plastic

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Reusable plastic containers require thorough cleaning to remove stains and odors.
Image Credit: Natalia Duryagina/iStock/GettyImages

Plastic items that have come into contact with oil or greasy products, such as food storage containers, plastic cutting boards and plastic dishware, aren't always easy to clean. Even after regular washing by hand or in the dishwasher, a greasy, grimy film can be left behind. This problem is unhygienic and unpleasant, and it reduces the usefulness of those plastic items. To tackle greasy plastic, turn to some common household products that are effective degreasers but gentle enough for regular use. Effective degreasing usually takes just a few minutes and minimal effort.

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Start With a Wipe and Wash

Before turning to more aggressive degreasing solutions, wipe off as much surface grease from the plastic item as you can with a paper towel or reusable cloth. Next, wash the plastic item with regular dish soap and hot water. Depending on the item, you can either submerge it in a sink or basin filled with hot water and a dash of dish soap or use a sponge soaked with hot, soapy water to scrub and wipe it. You might add a squeeze of additional dish soap directly to the sponge for extra degreasing help.

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With a little extra attention, such as soaking the greasy plastic item for a few minutes and scrubbing it with extra soap, this hand-washing step might be sufficient to get off all the grease. Rinse the item with plain water to remove traces of soap. If the plastic item is still greasy, continue with another degreasing solution.

Spray With Vinegar

Pour white vinegar into a spray bottle and spritz it all over the greasy plastic item. Make sure all the greasy surfaces are saturated with a layer of vinegar. Let the vinegar sit on the surfaces for a few minutes and then rinse it off with plain water. You can substitute lemon juice for vinegar if you prefer.

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Try a Baking Soda Paste

Prepare a thick paste of baking soda and water, aiming for a consistency similar to toothpaste or peanut butter. With your fingers or a cloth, spread the paste all over the greasy surfaces of the plastic item. Let the paste sit for approximately five minutes and then rinse it away with water. Use your fingers or a sponge to make sure all the baking soda gets washed away.

An even more effective way to degrease plastic with a baking soda paste is to scrub the item with the paste. Use a cloth or scrubbing brush to gently buff the paste all over the greasy surfaces. Let the paste sit on the surfaces after scrubbing and then rinse with water.

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Make a DIY Degreaser

Use the degreasing power of white vinegar, baking soda and dish soap all together by mixing all three products with hot water. Use an approximate ratio of one part vinegar and one part baking soda to three parts water and add a squeeze of dish soap. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl, soak a cloth in the solution and scrub the greasy plastic surfaces. Rinse off the degreasing mixture with plain water.

Consider a Bleach Solution

For greasy plastic that's also stained, soaking in a bleach solution is an excellent option. When cleaning with bleach, always wear protective gloves and protect your clothing from splashes. Fill a sink, bowl or other container large enough to soak the greasy plastic item with warm water and add a little bleach. Use approximately 1 tablespoon of bleach per cup of water. Soak the plastic item in the bleach solution. You can alternatively fill plastic items, such as food storage containers, with the bleach solution or spray it over the plastic surfaces and let it sit.

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Soak the item for an hour or more and then rinse away the bleach solution. Wash the item with soapy water and rinse again to remove any remaining traces of bleach.

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