How To: De-Stink Old Smelly Jars with Two Simple Ingredients

De-Stink Old Smelly Jars with Two Simple Ingredients

It's so nice to be able to reuse old glass jars for food storage. Occasionally, though, even the sturdiest container has to be recycled because it retains the smell of its previous contents. Usually the culprit was garlic, garlic-based, or something pickled, and you're certainly not going to store your fresh herbs or fruit in that.

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There is, however, a quick and easy way to get that old stink out of your jar and make it usable again. You just need two things...

Mustard & Water

Yes, mustard! Turns out basic yellow mustard (no need to get the fancy Dijon or whole-grain kind) or mustard powder (if you're truly old school) mixed with hot water will get out the smell.

Pour about a teaspoon of the yellow stuff in the bottom, add hot water and swirl or shake the solution with the lid on. Throw out the water, and then wash and rinse your container. It's like the Ghost of Pickled Onions Past was never even there.

Plastic Containers Need More Time Than Glass

However, the swirl-and-dump method works best with glass. Plastic tends to hold aromas more tenaciously. If something really stinky was being stored in a plastic container, you may want to leave the mustard-and-water mix in the plastic storage container for a few hours or even overnight.

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Mustard's Long & Useful History

Turns out mustard has long been recommended for removing skunk stink from tires (ouch! RIP, poor skunks) and curing headaches, as well as hangovers. Mustard plasters were a staple of folk medicine for bronchitis, colds, and other chest congestion.

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So why is it so good at dispelling odors? There is vinegar present in most mustard condiments and mustard seed itself is known as a rubefacient, or a substance that causes the skin to redden because it creates heat. Perhaps those factors in combination with the pungent, powerful, and volatile compounds in mustard seeds themselves helps get rid of stinky stuff.

It definitely works, though—try it!

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Image credits: Pickled onions via Grow It Cook It Can It, Water and mustard powder via 7th House on the Left, French's Mustard via Marshall Astor/Flickr Container of garlic via Edward/Wikipedia, Mustard plaster via Garden of Antietam, Empty jars via Shutterstock


No, because you're not letting the mustard sit in the jar for a significant amount of time.

Just tried putting mustard and hot water in a jar to get rid of the smell of perfumed bath salts and it has worked wonderfully! Thank you so much!

This is an older post but I hope to get a response. I tried this method with 2 half gallon Mason jars (using a tablespoon of prepared mustard in each) & it worked great for the jars. The lids & rings not so much. I even tried soaking them separately. I'm guessing this method doesn't work with metal?

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