How to Remove Ink from Plastic Containers – Reuse Your Containers

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. 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.

I like to use containers for different things. Acetone can break down the plastic so it’s not recommended to use for leftover food. Mostly, I reuse them for household cleaners that I make myself at home. I also keep them in my craft room (perfect for different color glitter, sequins, small stamps, etc. Some stray mini lego’s have found a home in one too. 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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  1. Lois J. says

    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.)

      • helen tweed says

        would like to say I also save everything the ketchup btles are used for pancake mix..funnel cake mix …we buy in bulk so I also use small bottle like containers for syrup then when we travel they can be thrown away after use…I use coffee creamer containers with screw lids for flour ..sugar..mashed potatoes…and take pks of gravy…I always replenish when we leave again…less to bring back..all are easy to label

    • Jenni says

      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.

    • Jenni says

      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!

    • Jenni says

      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 says

        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.

  2. Michael says

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

  3. Mona says

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

  4. says

    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 :)

  5. Kayo says

    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 says

      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 says


      • Jenni says

        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.

  6. Tonya says

    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

  7. Jerry says

    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.

  8. MrsMac3973 says

    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?

    • Al Smedley says

      Where the solvent would be used is not where your food would go, at least as per how I visualize it.

  9. Judy P. says

    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.

  10. Dan Cox says

    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?

  11. says

    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.


  12. Kamiko says

    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. :)

  13. Sarah K says

    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 :)

  14. dee says

    Acetone will attack plastics and break it down, not a safe idea. I would not advise doing this. I teach Cosmetology and manicuring and know all about acetone and the do and do not of this product and THIS IS A DO NOT!!! NOT SAFE!!

    • Jenni says

      I personally keep “some” leftovers in my reusables Dee, but nothing that needs to be microwaved. The bigger idea for this post was just how to get rid of ink so you can reuse them for other ideas (as mentioned in the post) like for keeping craft products and small toys organized. Or for reusing for other non-food purposes. The ones I keep my leftovers in also, I don’t keep forever. I reuse a few times and then pass off for another project. They get too flimsy otherwise from the dishwasher cycles.

  15. David Pearcey says

    I see you are not using gloves. I doubt you are aware that the ink is UV PRINTED and should not be exposed to your skin. Also I would not use these containers for food storage after exposing them to acetone. It will react with the plastic. Nice idea but you really shouldn’t be using these containers more than once and especially shouldn’t be using them for food storage after this process. Up to you but I wouldn’t.


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