I have a blue plastic lid for my glass Anchor container. I noticed that the lid is very sticky to the touch from both sides. I've cleaned it thoroughly with soap but the stickiness is still there. This lid is supposed to be microwave safe but I never used it while heating up food.

I also noticed a similar texture with with my semi-transparent Tupperware plastic container. For this one, the lid is fine but the container itself is sticky on the inside.

Has anyone experienced that before with plastic lids or containers? The stickiness is the same all year long. Is there a way to clean it or has the product reached its end of life?

  • How do you know it is grease? I have a tv remote and the whole back of the remote is sticky from being stored in a south TX RV.
    – Jan
    Nov 24, 2014 at 16:25

14 Answers 14


When I get this, it's almost always old grease that didn't get washed off properly in the first place. We have some newer storage containers that are, for some reason, really strongly attractive to grease and have to be washed very carefully with lots of detergent or they're sticky next time we go to use them.

My usual solution is to rub the whole thing with undiluted dishwashing liquid and let it sit a minute or two. Then I rub/rinse with the hottest water I can stand until it's all squeaky clean. This usually works.

If your grease is several layers deep or really old, you might have to resort to a grease cutter like Formula 409 or one of the citrus-based degreasers, followed up with plenty of detergent. I would not use solvent any stronger than a commercial cleaning spray because of the risk of damaging the plastic. I also would not scour the plastic. The scratching will make it exponentially harder to get all the way clean, and the deepest scratches can harbor bacteria (ask any home brewer who scoured his brew bucket how much it increases the risk of infection).


I think the question was regarding the spontaneous stickiness that soft or soft-touch plastic surfaces develop over time. As I understand it, the finish or the soft plastic itself contain constituents called plasticizers, the chemicals that imbue the material with the desired feel. I have a couple pairs of rubberized-grip binoculars from different manufacturers and they've both eventually become disgustingly tacky even though lightly used and kept in their cases. The airbag passive restraint covers in my Odyssey have become constantly tacky and nothing seems to remove the film. The barrels of my favorite click ballpoint pens get so bad you can actually push the sticky slimy plasticizer residue around but it won't wipe off. It's chemistry, and we need professional advice.

  • 1
    If the plastic is actually decomposing, as opposed to being soaked with edible oils, there is my amateur advice: toss it out! Feb 8, 2018 at 8:59

Do not use Goo Gone on anything you'll be eating from - it's okay to use it on the outside of a food container to remove label residue, but many plastics absorb chemicals, so I'd be careful using it to "clean" an entire Tupperware container. Even if you wash the container thoroughly with soap and water afterward, it will likely still smell like Goo Gone.

Soaking in a hot water + grease-cutting detergent is your best best. Products with citrus in them will work best, but still require a decent amount of scrubbing.


Goo-Gone works really well for me; it has never failed me, yet.


I've noticed it, and I guess it is grease. Use hot water, soap, and leave the tupper soaking for a couple of hours; use elbow grease too.


Soak the sticky containers in a 50-50 blend of warm water and ammonia. Follow that up by washing them in the sink or dishwasher and the stickiness will be gone!


I was looking for my 409 bottle and saw Windex...remembering the movie about the Greek wedding and the father, I decided to try it....It worked quite well to remove the tackiness.


For the outside of containers, bicarbonate of soda paste left on overnight may help. I have used it on decades-old tins covered with baked-on grease. After leaving it on overnight, the bicarbonate paste was the color of the grease and after washing, the tins were very clean.


On plastic, stickiness that won't go away is usually adhesive residue from a label that was run through the dishwasher. It may not even have been a label on the same container. This residue bonds strongly to plastic, I think due to their chemical affinities. Rubbbing alcohol and boiling-hot water may help soften or dissolve it. Acetone will also help, but may discolor or dissolve some common plastics, particularly polystyrene (recycling code 6).

If these solvents fail, resort to intensive scrubbing using scouring pads or steel wool. It'll scratch the living crap out of the plastic, but you'll see little shreds of the residue coming off. This method works best when combined with hot water or a solvent.

  • 1
    Note that acetone is highly destructive of acrylic, though a lid is unlikely to be made of the stuff as it is too rigid. Jul 18, 2011 at 20:10
  • The question mentions that it's sticky on both sides of the lid - I doubt there were stickers on both sides.
    – Cascabel
    Sep 12, 2014 at 6:11

Try soaking in oxiclean (percarbonate cleaner) dissolved in hot water (140-160 degrees). For homebrewing I use PBW which is like extra strength oxiclean. It's pricey but it works very well for cleaning sticky wort-covered brewing equipment and I use it to dissolve the glue on beer bottle labels when reusing bottles. Percarbonate cleaners are fine for washing food-safe plastic, just give a good rinse with hot water.

Goo gone is ok as well, but I find it often still requires a significant amount of elbow grease.

  • I suspect that the stuff on your brewing equipment is carbohydrate based, not grease. Although the oxiclean could work on grease too, I won't automatically assume that it helps.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 4, 2012 at 18:02
  • That's true, I could have also mentioned that I also use it on oil residue from frying, but the poster did not mention what the food causing the residue was. I make popcorn on the stove with oil and it leaves extremely sticky residue on my the pot, and soaking in hot water with oxiclean does a very good job at getting it off with minimal elbow grease needed. Just remembered another trick -- steaming with a clothing steamer also works well on sticky grease on my cabinets above the stove -- might work on this too.
    – paul
    Apr 4, 2012 at 21:38

If the stickyness is due to food residues oily or greasy, it should come off with dish soap. If not, it is probably due to chemical degradation of plastic, probably a defective container or exposure to some solvent or chemical (it can be even vapors from some other degraded plastic).

In this case, it can release chemicals into food or skin. If it is a cheap container, it is not worth to try to recover it, better to trash it and buy a new one. In any case, I wouldn't advice messing up with solvents on a plastic food containers, it can only do worse.


Per Tupperware Customer Care - To remove stickiness: Ø Rub the surface with a baking soda and water paste on a damp cloth or sponge Ø Repeat if necessary. To prevent stickiness: Ø Each time you empty a Tupperware container, rinse it in cold water before its usual cleaning in warm suds. Ø Store containers without seals when not in use to allow fresh air to circulate.


409 works every time, just spray and wash.

  • Formula 409 is a commercial all-purpose cleaner brand in the US. It is not intended for food surfaces, I don't think. Active ingredients: Alkyl (C12 [40%], C14 [50%], C16 [10%]), Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride (0.3%).
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:01

I know that soaking in mixture of dish detergent and ammonia is the most effective method, but I cannot stand the noxious (carcinogenic?) fumes. Especially in the office kitchenette, when you have but two plastic lunch boxes (and a couple of plastic cutlery you conscientiously reuse) to wash.

I use a mixture of baking soda and dish detergent.

My other alternative is laundry detergent with baking soda.

I realise that baking soda is not readily available in many countries (e.g. Israel or southeast Asia), where they sell a tiny sachet for like US$1, while we could get a whole quart for $0.50 in the US. In such times, I had used the cheapest white toothpaste in place of baking soda, unadulterated with gels or substances used to smoothen the texture of the connoisseur brands toothpaste.

Then rinse on a slow trickle of hot water from the faucet. A rushing gush of water would simply wash away the mixture. (I am adamantly annoyed at people who turn the hot water full blast not knowing that such an environmentally harmful method is less effective than a slow trickle).

  • 1
    Did I write something wrong? Whoever voted me down obviously hasn't tried using mixture of baking soda and detergent and then a slow trickle of hot water. It works for me. And is it wrong to say that my office colleagues would kick me out of the office if I ever introduced noxious ammonia into the kitchenette?
    – Cynthia
    Oct 28, 2013 at 1:32

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