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How to keep tomato based sauces from staining plastic wear?

It goes like this:

I have leftovers.
I put them in the Rubbermaid/Ziplock style containers.
I take them to work and heat them in the microwave for lunch.
I have permanently stained bowls and lids.
I curse them and all that they stand for.

Is there a way to prevent the staining that tomato and other sauces leave?

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  1. It's almost impossible to get rid of the stain once it's set in the porous plastic. I would suggest buying plastic containers that say "stain resistent". They appear to be made with denser plastic. That type of plastic containers cost more than the Rubbermaid/Ziplock, but you do get a much longer, more sanitary use out of them.

    1. Keep the sauce in the can. The plastic container in the cupboard. That should work.

      1 Reply
      1. re: beckiefd

        Keep it in glass jars. No way around the problem. It is going to happen.

      2. Once you've washed the plastic container, let it sit out in the sun. For some reason, it removes the stain.

        3 Replies
        1. re: OCAnn

          Yes, the sunlight breaks down the red pigments from tomatoes and chili peppers.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Sun breaks down all natural red pigments with a vengeance. That's why it's the worst color to paint anything in full sun, and why it's the color of stained glass most likely to fade over centuries.

          2. One suggestion I have used is to spray a container with pam or something like that.

            That has limited use because it still imparts a flavor to the food, not so much with a sauce, but it depends on what is in the container.

            Even if you DON'T have a dishwasher (I currently dont), I cannot recommend Cascade Plastic Booster 2 in 1 highly enough.

            Not only does it clean ALL stains, it deodorizes. I feel like a commercial here, but I love this stuff.

            I knew that it worked with a dishwasher since I often used it in my last home.

            I decided to give it a try with tupperware dish that had been dyed deep red from bbq sauce and even kept the smoky smell. Anything stored in the bowl tasted like BBQ.

            So I squirt some plastic booster in the bowl, filled it with hot water and snapped on the lid. I leave these in the sink over night, so I'm not sure how long it takes to soak out, but when the stain is gone, just rinse the bowl out.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rworange

              I have never seen this cascade, I will look for it. I do, like you, use cascade for stains on anything, not only for dishwasher safe items. I soak with cascade and HOT water and stuck on messes come up easily. Sounds like this "product" of theirs is worth searching out...Thanks

              1. re: Michele4466

                It comes in a tube. Here's a picture.


                You can buy it on Amazon, but almost every big market has it next to the regular cascade. I think I got my last tube at Wal-mart.

                There's a glowing review on Amazon which I totally agree with ... said it much better than I could.

                1. re: rworange

                  Thanks so much... I truly have never seen/noticed it. If I had, I would have HAD to try it :-)

                  Last purchase of cascade was the HUGE box at Target... perhaps I was too consumed with almost being out of the store... in my (new to me) local Target, the groceries/household items are right before the drugstore section and then the checkout (you start to get a bit antsy by then).

                  If I do not see it at my supermarket or my next trip to Target, I will place an order on Amazon. you are right about the review... sounds like a miracle worker. Funny though, we recently bought a house and before we moved in, my husband made me throw out all old and worn looking items, including storage containers. If I only knew then what I know now, how does that old song go?

                  Thanks again!

            2. I read an article in Organic Living, I think, regarding microwaving food in plastic containers. Certain types of plastics are worse-off being used this way than others. The bottom line was most plastic containers should not be subjected to high temperatures. Since then I've just refrained from microwaving food in any container that isn't glass/ceramic. I also handwash most plastic containers/utensils instead of putting them in the dishwasher. I'd suggest keeping a ceramic plate/bowl at work.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sweetTooth

                For me, I'm not talking about those type of plastics. I only use plastic containers which the manufacturer indicates are micro-wave safe ... and they stain.

                It is ironic, but the danerous-for-you type of containers don't seem to stain.

              2. In my experience, what leaves the persistent stain isn't tomatoes as such but the vegetable coloring (annatto, also called achiote) in many commercially packaged tomato products. It's harmless, virtually flavorless and odorless, but it does stay around. Tomato products (soup, sauce) made from scratch with tomatoes will probably solve this problem--I don't know if that's a feasible option for you.

                1. I read if you use a non-stick spray or wipe the inside of the plastic container with oil, the tomato stain on the plastic will be reduced or eliminated. If the plastic is already stained, there is little that you can do to remove it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    "If the plastic is already stained, there is little that you can do to remove it."

                    Cascade Plastic booster will remove it every time.

                  2. I actually saw Rubbermaid containers today at Target that said tomato stain proof.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mabziegurl

                      StainShield, they're called. I have a few and they work very well. They also resist turmeric, which stains worse than tomatoes in my experience.

                    2. I recently bought some glass storage containers that can go both in the freezer and the microwave - though those might be a bit heavy to take to work, they won't stain.

                      1. Thank you for the oil/cooking spray suggestions.

                        Cascade Plastic Booster - I will definitely have to check that out.

                        The stuff that's already stained, I'm not so concerned about. It's some new bowls that I recently purchased that I would like to try and keep stain-free.

                        Thanks All!

                        1. Have you tried baking soda? It works for me.

                          1. Rubbermaid carries a line of plastic containers that are micro safe and won't hold stains. Look for the clear almost glasslike plastic with the grey lids.

                            The danger is in using clear wrap in microwaves, big no no.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: HillJ

                              What is the danger in using clear wrap (like Saran Wrap?) in the microwave - just curious as I've never heard of it. That said, I don't have a microwave - no counter space.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                What I had read was Saran wrap placed over foods as they are nuked, with the high heat, actually drips poisonous toxins into the food, use paper towels. These plastics releases dioxins into the food. Has anyone else read this?

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Yup, I have. hence my recommendation above to keep ceramic dishes at work and use those to microwave food in. Plastics that are rated to be used in the microwave may be much better than saran wrap or use and throw plastic grades, but are still not as safe as ceramic. What quantity of food you're heating, for how long and with how much stirring (temp regulation) and so on may also affect what ends up leaching into your food from the plastic. So instead of worrying about all that, I just use ceramic.

                                  Ah well, we're all going to die one day of something anyway, right? ;-)