“Just one word: plastics.” While Dustin Hoffman’s character in “The Graduate” may have inwardly cringed at the thought, plastic indeed was the future. Love it or hate it, you can’t escape the ubiquitous product. Nor can you escape the debate about how to clean it. Just ask a few people how they clean household plastic, then hang on for a wild ride of conflicting views.
I use the dishwasher, but that method doesn’t remove stains. Or worse, it doesn’t dry the plastic items, leaving the dishwasher so damp and waterlogged that I have to pop the door and allow everything to air dry.
Why is plastic so hard to clean and dry? Because our eyes deceive us. “Plastic may look smooth as glass, but under a microscope you’ll see it’s actually a rough surface,” says Carolyn Forte, who directs the home care and cleaning products lab and the textiles, paper and plastics lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Not only does food such as spaghetti sauce stick to plastic, but in the dishwasher, water doesn’t sluice off as well as it does with china or glass.