"Plastic will be the main ingredient of all our grandchildren's recipes." —Anthony T. Hincks
We can't escape it. There is now more plastic than biomass on the planet. Remote corners of the world are seeing plastic debris wash up on shores and there are huge garbage patches filled with plastic bags and bottles in almost every major ocean. There are plastics that break down into micro plastics which get into our water and food supply and it's said that humans now consume the equivalent of one credit card of plastic a week.
Since plastic is here to stay, how can we make the plastic we have last longer instead of creating more? By taking care of it and cleaning it. Plastic is hard to clean, however, because even though it looks smooth, on a microscopic level, it's actually quite rough and porous. When cleaning, scrubbing can make the dirt and wear and tear worse because rough surfaces scratch the plastic surface more and create greater grooves for stains and dirt to stick.
Also, plastic is hard to dry because water doesn't evaporate or wipe off easily, and scratches cause the plastic to retain moisture longer and dry slower.
Generally speaking, you should avoid owning plastics containing PFOAs, Bisphenol A (BPA), Phthalates, Styrene, or Bisphenols. If you have any containers with these products, don't put them in the dishwasher because they could leach out toxic chemicals. PFOAs and PFOS have been linked to cancer and are generally being phased out but still exist in older plastics. Glass is a better option for food storage if at all possible as it avoids the problem of plastic exposure to things we ingest.
But if you do own plastic items and want to increase their longevity, how do you clean black stains and dirt off? Generally speaking, you can try the recipe of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach to 1 cup of water and pour this mixture above the level of the stain in a container large enough to hold your plastic item. Soak for 30 minutes or until the stain is gone. White vinegar and baking soda, or lemon juice, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide in concert with water can also work to remove stains if you prefer to avoid the use of bleach. If your plastic has odors, make a thick paste of baking soda and water, lightly scrub the paste into the plastic so that it will absorb those odors, then rinse and pat dry.
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