How to safely clean this stinky food container?
May 26, 2009 9:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I safely clean a very stinky glass dish with plastic Tupperware-style lid that sat out on the counter for days after holding smoked mackerel?

I have a glass dish with a plastic Tupperware-style lid that I used to store smoked mackerel in the fridge last week.

After the mackerel was finished, I didn't get around to washing the dish, which was mostly empty but still had oils and small fish bits in it. It sat out, sealed, on the counter, for several days (and a couple of those were very warm days).

I just opened the dish to wash it and it was really, really rank (more so than I've ever smelled it). Are there extra steps that I should take to safely clean this container and continue to use it (and avoid any foodborne illnesses)?
posted by cadge to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I bet that letting it soak in a dilute solution of bleach, overnight, would get rid of that smell. (Probably would be better to leave it outside while that was going on, however.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:44 PM on May 26, 2009

The glass container should come completely clean with just soap and hot water (or better yet, a run through the dishwasher.) The lid is bigger problem - the plastic tends to absorb smells. I would wash it well and then rub it with a baking soda paste, let it sit overnight, scrub the baking soda and then rinse. Run it through the dishwasher if you have one and then test with your nose.
posted by metahawk at 9:45 PM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'd try white vinegar instead of bleach, but that's mostly because I hate the way bleach smells. Maybe the acid would cut the fish smell, and then a scrub with baking soda?
posted by lilywing13 at 11:12 PM on May 26, 2009

I would also try vinegar or vodka on the plastic lid. Bleach is a disgusting scent/flavor around food.

Soak the lid in hot water and detergent to remove as much oil as possible, then a soak i white vinegar or vodka overnight. Leave out in the sun the next day, if possible.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:26 PM on May 26, 2009

Previously I've had success with diluting residual / absorbed stinky oils with more oil:
Dry the plastic lid, smear with cheap food oil, remove oil with detergent, rinse. Repeat.
posted by Thug at 3:05 AM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Harness the power of the sun! I let a stinky plastic lid sit in the sun on a windowsill for a couple of months (I had forgotten about it). When I finally remembered, it was dusty, but no longer stinky. Try leaving your lid in a sunny spot for a few days.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:53 AM on May 27, 2009

I've boiled extremely stinky plastics in vinegar successfully. Oil, or something that dissolves oils (alcohol), might work as well. You might also throw some vinegar in there, put the lid on lightly, and microwave it until the vinegar boiled.
posted by paanta at 6:07 AM on May 27, 2009

I am right now cleaning out a fishtank that a pet died in with a solution of mildly bleached water (1:10 bleach to water), leaving the whole kaboodle out in the sun. Classic fishkeeping procedure and I don't expect to have any problems - normally I use a vinegar solution, and have in the past, but the particular issue that killed this fish is rather persistent, so ... enough of that in a food-related topic.

Anyway, same principle applies - bleach solution or vinegar, depending on how paranoid you are, and leave it out in the sun for a few days. Then rinse, rinse, rinse to get the smell out.
posted by bettafish at 6:10 AM on May 27, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for this advice, everyone!

It's funny, I'm actually not so concerned about how the lid ends up smelling - I'm mainly worried about getting sick somehow from not cleaning the thing out correctly. But it sounds like maybe that's not a huge concern? I'll try the bleach or vinegar and see how that works out.
posted by cadge at 7:11 AM on May 27, 2009

Before I clean household items with vinegar, I sometimes slice a lemon in half and rub it on as well. It works nicely to naturally disinfect.
posted by delicate_dahlias at 10:20 PM on May 27, 2009

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