It's that time of year again: back-to-school season is in full swing. Shops are filled with uniforms and stationery, children are making the most of their final weeks of freedom and parents are inundated with lunch-box recipes, after-school dinner ideas, and special offers on lunch boxes and bags.
Of course, if this isn’t your child’s first time going to school, you’ll already own plastic tubs and boxes for their lunch, or have some that you used for your own work lunch or dinner leftovers.
If you use these for storing leftover bolognese, curries and the like, you might be tempted to buy shiny new, unstained ones. However, in the spirit of sustainability (and affordability), you should continue to use the perfectly good ones you already have.
Tomato-based dishes are notorious for staining plastic containers and are tricky, if not impossible, to remove. Countless functional containers have no doubt been tossed aside in favour of new, clearer-looking tubs.
Those of us who have scrubbed to no avail at those stained boxes know it’s easy to feel disheartened and reach for your wallet. However, there is a surprisingly simple and quick way to rid lunch boxes of those stains when they’re fresh.
To lose the orange glow from your plastic container, put some washing-up liquid into the box, fill a third of the container with warm water, and put in two or three pieces of ripped-up kitchen roll. Put the lid on the container to seal it and shake it for 45 seconds to one minute. Rinse the lunch box and the stain should be gone, as well as any greasy residue.
If you’ve had a tub with a stain for a while, you’re going to need something more intensive. It can be tempting to reach for the bleach when faced with unsightly marks but, as the surface is in direct contact with food that we or our children will be eating, it makes more sense to choose more natural solutions.
For those orange/red containers hiding at the back of your press, our second hack involves every kitchen’s hero item: baking soda. Simply make a paste in the container by mixing baking soda and water together and scrub with a brush until the stain lifts.
Another tip, which I have not yet tried, suggests coating the stain in sugar, adding washing-up liquid and filling the container with water. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes before rinsing. The enzymes in the sugar should break down the stain, leaving you with a transparent tub once more.