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 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.
And 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 Greenlivingtips.com, “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.
Now, 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 Amazon.com.
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!