Molds are certainly one of the most frustrating things to deal with when it comes to sanitation and general cleanliness. You might think that your child’s plastic lunchbox created through plastic injection molding is exempt, but that is not the case. Mold does grow on plastic and any other surface as long as there is moisture, humidity, and a way for spores to get on it.
If you have seen these pesky fungi on your food wares, then here are some tips to remove them:
Handwashing with soap and water
When it comes to general sanitation and cleaning of food wares like plastic lunch boxes, handwashing using soap and water should be one of your go-to options. Dishwashing soap contains the necessary and safe chemical formulations that help you get rid of bacteria and fungi like mold. As you probably already know, it is best applied with water and requires you to scrub the container thoroughly for optimal results.
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Use a bleach solution
Another way you can remove molds from plastic lunchboxes is by using a bleach solution. To do this, you will need a non-ammonia type of detergent and bleach solution which you can make by mixing 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
After preparing these items, clean the lunchbox so that no sizeable food particles remain. You will then need to completely submerge the lunchbox in the solution for 15-20 minutes. Remove it, then wash thoroughly using the aforementioned detergent and water. Wash it again before using it to ensure that no residue is left to get on the food.
It is important to remember that bleach is toxic to humans, so protection is a must. The area you will be doing this in has to be properly ventilated so that harmful disinfectant fumes will not buildup and potentially harm your lungs. Wear protective gear (e.g. gloves and a face mask) as well just to be sure.
Resort to natural alternatives
If you are not the type to use bleach because of its potentially harmful effects and your dishwashing soap is not working as you would like it to. There are also natural methods you can do to rid your lunchboxes of mold.
One of the most popular cleaning agents out there is white vinegar. Just pour a generous, undiluted amount into a spray bottle. Spray it on the affected areas of the lunchbox and let it sit for an hour or so.
Rinse the lunchbox with water afterward and wipe clean with a piece of cloth. If you still smell any traces of vinegar, don’t worry. It will naturally disappear after a couple of hours. Another lesser-known natural disinfectant and mold-remover is grapefruit seed extract.
Like with the white vinegar, you will need a spray bottle, but this time, a solution is necessary. A ratio of 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract per cup of water is optimal. Mix well into the spray bottle then apply it to the problem areas.
Let it sit for an hour, but if you can wait longer than that, then that would be better. Rinse it before use, then you are good to go. Using grapefruit seed extract has the added benefit of deodorizing the lunchbox, which should make it an attractive choice over vinegar.
Last but not least, the sun is also another natural remedy to mold-growth. Utilizing the sun is simple: just expose the lunchbox to the sun for an extended time after your regular dishwashing routine.
This not only dries it naturally but also rids it of bacteria and fungal growth due to the sun’s UV-rays. The only downside is that it is time and/or weather-dependent as it would be best to use the sun when it is bright out.
Things you should avoid doing or using
Just as there are many things you can use to remove molds from your kid’s lunchbox, there are also some things you should avoid using because they are ineffective, or can potentially damage whatever it is you are cleaning.
Here are some of the most common examples:
- It includes wet wipes, moist towelettes, and other kinds of moist cloth. While they are marketed for the use of cleaning, they have been observed to be ineffective at removing bacteria and molds from food wares, including plastic lunchboxes.
- This is rather obvious, but if you were thinking of using a washing machine to clean your lunch box, do not do it. Because, not all plastic lunch boxes can be machine-washed. If they are a washing machine is not thorough enough to rid them of molds.
Chemical cleaning sprays
- avoid using chemical cleaning agents if their label doesn’t explicitly state that they can be used for plastic lunchboxes. These chemical sprays can leave toxic residue on the surface of the lunch box. It can cause unwanted physical conditions like respiratory ailments when inhaled or stomach ailments when consumed. Aside from that, it can also cause a reaction in some types of plastic that are used for plastic injection molding.
Regardless of how you choose to clean your kids’ plastic lunchboxes, the most important part is that you do it properly and thoroughly. Mold has been known to grow back, given the right conditions, so be mindful of this once you see it growing on any surface or item — not just your plastic lunchbox.