How to Remove Ink from Plastic Containers – Reuse Your Containers

by Jenni on February 13, 2013

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How to Remove Ink from Plastic Containers

Remove Ink from Plastic Containers


Don’t you hate throwing away plastic containers, especially those that you know would work perfectly to keep something else in?! I never did that because most plastic containers would have the ink printed labels on them and to use them for something else just seemed tacky.

I found out that you can use 100% Acetone (nail polish remover) to remove the ink from plastic containers and then you have a pretty white container, voila! Non acetone polish remover will not work nearly as well, so make sure you’re using 100% acetone!  Now you have a clean container that you can do anything with. These are even great to have on hand to send someone a homemade gift or treat. Tie a pretty bow and card on and it becomes something different altogether! I’m so glad this worked and I’m happy that I could add this tip to my Thrifty Household Tips section of the blog!

How to Remove Ink from Plastic Containers:

There are a couple of different ways that you can do this. I’ve done it both ways and either is fine. You can either use an old cleaning rag or paper towels. Just pour 100% acetone onto your rag or paper towel, hold it on the container until the ink starts to disappear and begin wiping working in one direction. Just as you would when removing finger nail polish from your fingernails. Side note: If you’re wearing nail polish, you should wear gloves unless you’re wanting to re-polish!

How to remove ink from plastic containers

The other way that you can do it is to wrap an old dish towel or a couple layers of paper towels around your container, using rubber band to hold it in place. Hold the container over a trashcan or sink and soak the paper towel or dish towel with the 100% acetone. Let it sit for several minutes and then take a peek. The ink should easily rub off. Remove the rubber band and towels and rub off any left over ink.  After you’re done taking the ink off, dispose of your rags accordingly and then use hot soapy water to wash the containers.

how to remove ink from plastic containers

I like to use containers for different things. Some sizes work great for leftovers for hubby’s lunch at work. Some hold my household cleaners that I’ve made myself, some work great to hold toys. Any size container can be reused to hold something else! It’s better than throwing away the plastic and then later needing to buy a baskets or containers to hold and organize your things.

Keep your bowls and containers, remove the ink or plastic labels and store them somewhere out of the way. Most containers can be stacked into each other to save space so you can keep them neatly out of your way until you’re ready to use one!

What sorts of things do you keep and reuse?? We’d love to hear, leave us a comment!!

Topic: How to Remove Ink from Plastic Containers



Jenni here! I'm the owner and primary blogger here at Sweet Pennies from Heaven. Married to my better half for 17 years and mom to one awesome little boy. We have 2 dogs, Pepper and Izzy. My favorite thing to do is nap. I love sweets and coffee. Sweet coffee.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Lois J. February 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I LOVE this tip! Beings I don’t wear nail polish, it is going on my grocery list, right now. 100% acetone, that is. There is a stack of Cool Whip, sour cream, oleo, n cottage cheese containers in my cabinets just begging to be wiped clean. Thanks again. (Found you through Frugal Hacks.)


Jenni February 16, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Lois, that’s awesome! So glad you find it as useful as I did. Let me know what happens ;)


Jacqui February 26, 2015 at 6:31 pm

I found out if you try a s.o.s. pad it also works cause i was cleaning one of my containers and wiped the outside and the ink came off as well


Shannon April 26, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I love your ideas! Thank You :)


Jenni April 27, 2013 at 1:46 am

Thank you Shannon! Glad you enjoy them!


Denise June 10, 2013 at 10:17 pm

this is a great idea especially if you buy the same product repeatedly–you can have nice stackable set! Thank you!


Layne June 19, 2013 at 9:10 am

This is a great idea! Thank you for sharing!


Jesica H August 8, 2013 at 10:48 am

Interesting, I would probably just leave the writing on, but if I ever need to know how I know where to go!


Stephanie Rose October 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I wish I had found this post yesterday. Just threw out a container because of the writing. The would be awesome to clean up and let my Mini decorate them.


Jenni Jenni October 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm

YES! We keep so many for different things. Of course I can’t keep them ALL but the ones we don’t keep I either hand off to someone who can like the schools, daycares or just recycle them.


katie June 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm

such a great idea!!! found you through hometalk!


Jenni Jenni June 16, 2014 at 11:14 am

Thank you for stopping by Katie! I’m glad you like the idea. Don’t you love Hometalk? It’s one of my favorite places to visit!


Jewel June 15, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Where do I get the 100% Acetone at? Thanks for passing this along.


Jenni Jenni June 16, 2014 at 11:26 am

You can find acetone at any store Jewel. Just head to the beauty section and look for fingernail polish remover. They usually have 2 kinds….non acetone and 100% acetone. You want to grab the 100% acetone. Goodluck!


David December 31, 2014 at 9:14 am

You can also find 100% acetone in larger quantities that won’t contain perfumes at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s (or some similar store) – in the paint section, usually.


Tamara June 16, 2014 at 12:24 am

Awesome site! :)


Jenni Jenni June 16, 2014 at 11:27 am

Aww, thank you Tamara! I appreciate that, and thank you so much for stopping by!


Michael June 16, 2014 at 2:26 am

There is a risk of toxicity from the non-reusable plastics breaking down with repeated use, especially if heated. I looked into this.


Mona June 16, 2014 at 5:21 am

@Jewel, you can buy Acetone at any Beauty Supply store and sometimes you can find it at your local drug store ie Rite Aid.


Jewel June 16, 2014 at 7:32 am

@ Mona, Thanks!


Jenni Jenni June 16, 2014 at 11:28 am

You can even find it at Walmart. I’m pretty sure that’s where I got mine. Right in the beauty section where the fingernail polish remover is.


Sandra Lynn October 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I happened upon you yesterday via FB and Hometalk :) Love the tip but was surprised by all the comments about safety, etc. I felt a need to respond to them. And so I did; on my blog. I gave you a shout out or three, didn’t reveal your tip, and thanked you in the end ;) Hopefully it’s clear there that I understand folks just want others to be safe, while you were just passing along a great and useful tip and at the same time it gave me something fun to try and to write about, too.

Thanks for (unknowingly) coming along :)


Jenni Jenni October 14, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Hahahaa….thank you Sandra Lynn. I appreciate the post and link back. Thank you for the chuckle, or 2 or 3… ;)


Kayo November 20, 2014 at 11:19 am

Do you think this would work on clear plastic bottles? Or would the acetone cloud it? Has any one tried that? I love the shape of the POM bottles and want to use them for a crafty gift :)


Jenni Jenni November 21, 2014 at 10:18 am

Hi! I love the shape of the POM bottles too. I’m not sure if it would work or if it would make the bottles cloudy. It’s worth trying on one though, just to see what happens. If you test it out, I’d love to know what happened!! Come back and let us know!


TYRODD November 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm



June Sawmiller February 17, 2015 at 12:34 am

What is POM bottle above this post…


Jenni Jenni February 17, 2015 at 9:58 am

June, POM is a namebrand of a juice and the bottles are shaped different than typical juice bottles. Some people like to save them and reuse them for different things. They make pretty vases.


Becky L November 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm

What a great tip! I’ll definitely be testing this one soon. I would love to repurpose some of my containers for craft supplies.


Tonya November 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm

I have used it to get the adhesive off of smart water bottles for a craft project and it didn’t make the plastic cloudy. You could try a small spot, if it does make it cloudy you could use non-acetone polish remover. It will take longer but I know for sure that won’t cloud


Jerry November 22, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I saw a couple of posts asking about clear bottles. Here is another trick you can try. If you have bottles with the clear labels (the kind that make it look like the printing is on the bottle), you can use Goo Gone (citrus oil cleaner) to remove the adhesive. Peel the label off, soak the sticky place with Goo Gone, and rub vigorously with a paper towel until the adhesive is either mostly gone or thoroughly softened. Then wash in hot soapy water to remove the oily residue. You might have to reapply to touch up a spot or two, but usually once is all you need.

I use it to remove wine bottle labels so I can bottle homemade wine or vinegar, but it works on any number of other bottles. Citrus oil cleaner will also remove grease pencil marks, like many thrift stores use to price their items.


MrsMac3973 November 25, 2014 at 7:44 am

Is using a toxic chemical to remove ink on food containers a safe practice? If it’s toxic enough to remove nail polish, wouldn’t you want to avoid using it on surfaces that come into contact with food?


Judy P. November 28, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Never thought about using acetone. I’ve scrubbed my fingers to the bone using cleanser or any other type of cleaner. I just use them with ink intact, but save them mostly for leftovers so I don’t really care. Just got rid of a bag full yesterday at my daughters. All the Thanksgiving leftovers send home with the kids and grandkids!! LOL They’re perfect for that. They’re free and you don’t have to worry about getting your good plastic containers back, plus you can always restock thru the year using your whipped topping, yogurt, and sour cream.


Dan Cox December 29, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Hi, great tip! Wondering: will this work on glass? I want to reuse a coffee carafe. Fill it with colored sand, after I glue shells to the inside, and use it as a candle holder. But I want to take the numbers and cup info off the sides. Don’t want to paint it, then I couldn’t see whatever I glue inside. Any thoughts?


Anuj Vohra December 30, 2014 at 10:12 am

Hi Jenni,

Been saving all sizes and shapes of plastic containers for over half a decade now.
I use them including plastic bottles in my garden both in and outdoors.
My BetterHalf doesn’t stop me from doing so, though makes sure to show her
disliking to containers with all sorts of prints. Never cleaned the ink.
Your tip is quite useful, thanks much.



June Sawmiller February 17, 2015 at 12:40 am

What do you use them in your garden for? Thanks


Anuj Vohra December 30, 2014 at 10:15 am


Pardon me.
Wish you a very happy 2015 filled with pleasant surprises for you
and your family and loved ones.



Kamiko December 30, 2014 at 2:55 pm

i dont remove the ink form my containers, and have been re-using them for years. never had to buy them when we were kids, because with a big family, we went through a ton of butter :)
passing this on though for those who would want to do it. :)


Sarah K February 5, 2015 at 11:12 pm

I have used this method and it does work but I have found that coconut oil works just as well to remove ink, stamps and labels, just rinse with dish soap afterwards and you have a great usable container :)


Janet February 8, 2015 at 11:59 pm

To Dan, I’d try a razor blade to get the marking off the carafe if the acetone doesn’t work.


gail February 9, 2015 at 12:09 pm

this is a great idea…. thanks for sharing


Julia February 27, 2015 at 8:22 am

How clever, I’m a professional cleaner and I love when I learn new cleaning tricks! Thank you for sharing!
Herne Hill Carpet Cleaners Ltd.


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