Is it recommended to wash plastic packaging for raw meat before disposing of it? I see advice to just rinse it with soap in the sink to prevent the bin from smelling.

However, I also see it is usually not recommended to wash raw meat as there is a risk of cross contamination - wouldn't the same risk be here as well?

Clarification: I mean before throwing it into bin for landfill

  • 3
    The original wording of the question meant that answers and comments quickly degraded to bickering on whether putting a plastic packaging into the recycling is worth it. This not only showcased why our site doesn't accept opinion based questions, recycling is also not on our whitelist of question topics. So I reduced it the question to the one original aspect which is within our scope, and removed all comments and all parts of answers which went beyond that.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 28, 2021 at 1:08
  • Second reminder: please don’t discuss “proper” recycling or disposal methods. The question is about the washing step and potential side effects on kitchen hygiene and food safety.
    – Stephie
    Mar 28, 2021 at 18:56

4 Answers 4


Rinsing or washing the container is no worse than rinsing or washing a plate on which you have let your meat rest. But do it when you take your meat out, not a couple of hours later, to avoid spoilage starting.
If you send yours to landfill, cleaning it is for your comfort.

Where and when I grew up we would never bother, but we did accept that bins smell of spoiled food. If you want to keep your bin from smelling you may want to clean it.


Disclaimer: The question got edited into something completely different.

You know those large garbage bins used on garbage day? Though plenty of people use only garbage bags, at my household we have our regular sized garbage cans in our house, and those large garbage bins out beside our house.

Every time we have a meat container (be it a Styrofoam plate, plastic packaging, etc.) to dispose, we go outside and dump it into that large garbage bin. Applies to bad weather too.

  • @Tashus I'm really upset at how the question got edited while I was away without anyone adding a disclaimer that the existing answers will be invalidated. Mar 28, 2021 at 12:33
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    Thank you for calling that out. I hadn't noticed the edit history. Sure enough, your question is rather direct at answering the original question. Sorry about that.
    – Tashus
    Mar 28, 2021 at 15:00

Immediately throw it in your normal trash. Absolutely don't rinse it, that's a great way to spread contamination everywhere. Smell has never been a problem for me as I have a covered garbage can in the kitchen and regularly move the garbage to the trash collection point outside.

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    Where is it that you think it was "spread contamination to"?
    – Brondahl
    Mar 28, 2021 at 11:13

I have a "reframing" approach that may work for people with large (but not full) freezers: I keep a plastic container in the freezer, and put any "likely to be smelly" trash --- things like shrimp-shells, meat-packaging, etc. --- into that container and close the top. This largely delays rotting, so it does not matter whether you wash the packaging or not. On trash day, I empty the container into the trash before taking the trash out of the house.

I'm embarrassed to say that it took me more than 35 years of adult life to think of this, but it sure works well!

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