Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cleaning Out Peanut Butter Jars

A confession: Sometimes recycling seems to be more trouble than it's worth.

There, I've said it.

Recycling is good. It helps reduce the waste sent to landfills. It gives a few people jobs.  I try to recycle as much as I can. But, sometimes I wonder if cleaning out a bottle or container is creating more water/energy waste than I'm saving by recycling my bottles.

For instance, it takes a good bit of water to fully clean out the bottle of conditioner I use. I fill, shake, dump. Fill, shake, dump. Repeat. I don't know if I'm helping or hurting the planet when I re-cyle my bottle of conditioner. But I do.

The same problem happens with plastic peanut butter jars. Peanut butter is very sticky stuff (as if anyone didn't already know that). And getting the jar clean enough to recycle was always a challenge until I accidentally began using this method. It works very well. It isn't such a chore anymore and I don't think I'm wasting as much water to get the jars clean.

So, here's what I do...
1. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and get out as much peanut butter as humanly possible. You can make at least half a sandwich from the leftover peanut butter on the sides and bottom of a jar.

2. Squirt a small bit of Dawn Dishwasing Liquid* into the jar.

3. Fill 2/3 full with hot water.

4. Replace lid on jar.  Shake.

5. Leave jar on counter overnight. Shake again a few times as you think of it or have time.

6. The next morning the majority of the remaining peanut butter will be floating in the water, not sticking on the jar. A quick swipe with a dishrag and your plastic peanut butter jar will be clean

*I prefer Dawn for this because it is so much better at cutting through grease.

This works for me.

Have a good tip that works for cleaning out conditioner bottles?


Linda said...

I have heard, but couldn't tell you where, that they have too much to recycle anyway. I still think it's a good thing, but when it comes to something like peanut butter, I just throw it away.

Amy Rainey said...

Our county rules say to just lightly rinse everything and not worry about getting it all clean. Are you sure it is completely necessary to do all that? This question is truly one of ignorance...we've only been recycling for a few months.

jubilee said...

I'd been using just hot water. Think I'll try the Dawn too. Thanks for the tip.

Amy Andrews said...

Oh Dawn! Never thought of that!

Anonymous said...

For your conditioner bottle, why not just add a little water, shake good, use it on your hair, add a little more water, use it the next time on your hair, and so on? I do that with the shampoo and conditioner.

Jenny said...

I do my PB jars the same way! I agree that Dawn works the best.

Sharon said...

My sister puts the empty PB jars in her dish washer... that seems to do the trick too. But since i don't have a DishWasher, I'll try your approach!

Swing by today if you get the chance. I host a blog carnival each Thursday about JOY -- I bet you have a lot of that!

'Becca said...

I wash PB jars really well because we keep them and use them to store leftovers (click my name for ravings about how awesome they are) and all kinds of other random uses! So I have to get them completely clean. We buy PB in glass jars; the plastic ones are more difficult to clean because fat bonds to plastic (and vice versa, which is why we avoid fatty foods packed in plastic--although before you freak out, there are no KNOWN health risks of #1, #2, or #5 plastic).

The way I clean them is this: I scrape out as much PB as possible for eating. When I'm setting up to wash dishes, I fill the sink with hot soapy water with a dash of vinegar, and then the first thing I do is dunk the PB jar quickly to fill it 3/4 full of dishwater. I put on the lid, shake, and stick it in the sink. Then I fill the sink with dishes and start washing. Every time I finish a sinkful and put more in, I shake the jar and peel off as much label as I can. Finally I dump out the water and most of the PB and grease with it. Then I wash it thoroughly with the dishcloth, paying special attention to the threaded parts of the jar and lid. Similar to your method except that it's all done in an hour or less and removes the label (which is not important for recycling because they do it at the plant, but a plain clear jar is much more reusable than a labeled one).

Michelle said...

I was going to say the same thing as your anonymous commenter. It isn't nearly as umm smart sounding when someone beats me to the punch ;) I can get a good 2-3 more conditioning showers out of a bottle after it's "gone" by adding just a few tablespoons of water to the bottle (just enough that it will come out again... if you add too little, it will incorporate into the conditioner but just stick to the sides).

groovie mom said...

I throw my jars in the dishwasher. I figure I'm going to be using all that water anyway...


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