The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 23, 2007

Finally! How to clean pasta sauce jar lids Plus a handy cleaning tool I found

8/28/07 Update: It turns out that cleaning pasta sauce jar lids with hydrogen peroxide is not such a good idea. H202 eats through the coating inside the jar lid. Read more here.

pasta_sauce_lid_stainedPasta sauce jars would be a great replacement for plastic food storage containers, if it weren’t for the tomato stain and smell that penetrates the rubbery inside of the lid and causes any food in the jar to take on the taste and smell of the sauce. (Tomato-flavored soy milk, anyone?) For weeks, I tried everything I could think of to clean them out (short of chlorine bleach, which we don’t buy) to no avail. Things I tried: white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, salt, vinegar and baking soda, lemon juice and baking soda, dish soap, scrubbing really hard. I even found a web page dedicated to this very topic, but none of the non-bleach suggestions worked for me.

pasta_sauce_lid_cleanAnd then I remembered reading somewhere a few weeks ago about leaving them out in the sun to get the smell out. So I tried it, and that didn’t work either. But it did bring to mind a memory of me as a teenager sitting in the sun, trying to bleach my hair with hydrogen peroxide. So I poured a little peroxide into the lid, left it in the sun for a day, and voilà ! Look how white it is! And no trace of tomato odor! I wonder how much peroxide it would have taken to turn my teenage hair that white.

Hydrogen peroxide is much more environmentally friendly than chlorine bleach. According to, “Most of the debate about chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) stems from its ability to form more toxic byproducts such as dioxin, furans and other organochlorines when reacting with other elements. Hydrogen peroxide on the other hand, is simply water with an extra oxygen molecule (H2O2) and breaks down into oxygen and water…. Many industrial bleaching operations, such as those used in the production of paper, are increasingly moving towards the use of hydrogen peroxide for a greener bleaching process.”

And yes, hydrogen peroxide does come in plastic containers. But I already have two bottles of it that I bought long before I was avoiding plastic, and it doesn’t take much to clean a jar lid.

down_to_earth_bottle_brushNow, here’s my second cleaning tip for the day: Reusing all these narrow-necked glass jars and bottles, as well as my Klean Kanteen, requires a brush to clean them. If you already have a bottle brush, skip the following tip because why buy something new if you don’t need to? Seriously, in my book, a plastic brush you already own is better than a new natural brush. But since I had been living the throw-away lifestyle, I didn’t own a bottle brush because I didn’t save any bottles or jars in the first place.

This is a natural coir (coconut husk) brush from Down To Earth Distributors. I bought mine at Rainbow Grocery, where the only packaging was a small tag attached to the handle. Plastic-free, vegan, and it works well. If you can’t find anything similar in a local store, you can order one through

And please let me know if you have any environmentally-friendly cleaning tips to share. What works the best for you? I’d rather not experiment if I don’t have to!

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4 years ago

H2O2 is TOXIC!

Stefanie T
7 years ago

Oh, I am sooo familiar with this problem, it’s really annoying especially when you want to use the storage bottle/jar with something else. I will try these advices, as I always re-use my jars to store homemade sauces, preserves etc. in them.

10 years ago

There is another way to remove these odors, without the strong chemicals! Often flavors are hard to remove with soap and water because they are not water-soluble. They may be, however, fat or alcohol-soluble. Try putting some fat in a sauce lid and leaving it in a warm spot for a couple of days to see if it removes the odor. It works great for me using lard on pickle and salsa lids. See my blog post here:

Jim Stallings
10 years ago

You might google “sterilization (microbiology)” [scroll down to Hydrogen peroxide and then Cleaning methods that do not achieve sterilization, although I understand we aren’t striving for sterilization] to read about hydrogen peroxide before using it again on sealing lids.

An alternative cleaning solution is Coca-Cola poured into lid, and letting it sit for a while. And, even better, slap a piece of Saran Wrap on the jar top before twisting on the almost odor-free lid. Use enough Saran wrap so it shows beneath the installed lid for easier re-handling and re-instaling the clean side toward the jar contents.

For jars so frequently re-opened the Saran Wrap becomes a nuisance, use new jars.

12 years ago

this doesnt work. i’ve tried 4 lids and it may lighten the stain but it doesnt completely get rid of it as shown in the example picture.

12 years ago

clearly you don’t know what you are talking about and should not be posting cleaning advice that could harm people….

12 years ago

Oh, thanks so much! This is PERFECT! Now I won’t have “soymato” anymore… XD

14 years ago

I was born in the 50’s and I remember the days of bringing back soda bottles to the corner store for a refund as well as milk bottles. Also, as gas hog as the cars were, we always kept our cars longer. We are living in such a wasteful society. I wish we’d get back to that old mind-set in some ways. I am so happy to see more of an awareness regarding the environment and there’s so much more that we have to accomplish esp on educating the masses. I refuse to use plastic bags! I am bringing my own when I shop and when I have no room am asking for paper, then reusing that. I hate Plastic! Thank you for your website!

terrible person
15 years ago

I’ve heard that to get rid of skunk smell you use tomato juice. Maybe to get rid of tomato taste, you should have used skunk smell?

Man, I love the words spelled out by the wavy letters that you have to type into the “Word Verification” box in order to post comments. They fill my mind with all sorts of associations.

15 years ago

I’ve read your blog for a while, and for the last 6 months have been trying to cut down on plastics too. Frankly, not as successfully as you. I bulk buy with muslin bags (oats, nuts, popcorn, beans), use my hemp & swag bags for EVERY purchase, and only buy sappho hill soap b/c it lacks all packaging, and intend to follow your toilet paper example ASAP (bulk, amazon, no plastic packaging), and FINALLY started composting last night. BUT, my 7nd gen kitchen garbage bag is STILL full of plastic. Frustrating. Still, thanks for your example and inspiration.

Least Footprint
15 years ago


What a great tip! And it goes hand in hand with my post from yesterday on Least Footprint. We buy a spaghetti sauce that comes in a great jar but does not accept a mason lid. Looks like one less thing to the recycle. I am going to modify my post from yesterday to include a link to this tip. Thanks for the great job you do on this stuff.

I do believe I have seen Hydrogen Peroxide on the web in an amber glass bottle. If I run across it I will let you know. There is a possibility also that a local pharmacy has it in bulk, since I am sure they use it to formulate some prescriptions, and could put it in a glass bottle for you.