I'm guilty of not washing my tupperware. I did that recently with my new Sistema Klip-It Lunchcube. It's bento-inspired tupperware found in stores. I love, love bentos but I don't have one (yet) and this thing is as close as it gets. If you're Americanized and interested in switching to bento-style lunches, I highly recommend it to start with.
So anyway, I barely use it, but when I did, I left it in my bag for too long and forgot about it. Yeah, you can guess that it left my plastic tupperware smelling really foul. After some researching on the good ol' net, I came up with a couple of tricks to try and combined them all. About a week later my tupperware is smelling 99.5% normal. That .5 percent is attributed to the very slight smell I can detect when I literally stick my nose all up against the tupperware for a close smell check. I think it'll go away as I continue using and washing it. If not, one more day of the "tupperware restoration regimen," as I call it, will do the trick.
- Wash the tupperware with warm water and dish soap.
- For stains, make a solution of baking soda and water, and scrub the tupperware with it. Rinse.
- Add white vinegar to the container, mix with some water, seal shut, and let it soak. How long depends on how bad the tupperware is. Mine was pretty bad so I left it to soak for the weekend. The vinegar is supposed to kill the bacteria and mold. I found out that it is actually used for cleaning if using harmful chemicals is not desired.
- Do a once-over with vinegar again and then wash with soap and water.
- Now it should be clean, but the smell is probably still very overpowering. Crumple up newspaper pages (black and white print) and stuff it into the tupperware. Sprinkle some water over the newspaper and possibly some vanilla extract, and then seal the tupperware. It is up to you how long you'd like to do this. For smells that aren't too bad, a day or a couple is good enough. For bad smells like mine, it took a week. For even worse smells, maybe two or three weeks. You can occasionally replace the newspaper with fresh ones. The point of this is that the coal in the black and white newspapers is supposed to be very good at absorbing odors. The newspapers themselves will make your tupperware smell worse, but once you wash it out, it should fade away. Wash and rinse.
- Sprinkle salt all over your tupperware. Cut up a lemon and rub it all over the tupperware, as if it was a sponge. The salt is supposed to go into any scratches in the tupperware (which is where odors can be trapped) and the lemon is supposed to be good at removing odors. Wash and rinse.
- Give your tupperware a good sniff. If it still smells bad, repeat the newspaper trick until it is just about gone.
- After washing and rinsing the tupperware again, leave it outside in the sun all day to air-dry. Wash and rinse again. Run the tupperware under cold water to let the pores close (supposedly when hot, the pores in the plastic open up and absorb orders more easily) and let it dry.
Congratulations! Your tupperware no longer smells bad