Clear plastic storage boxes are a popular item when it comes to organizing items around the home. Whether they’re used for off-season clothing storage, shoes, or even arts and crafts, these inexpensive storage solutions are quite versatile. This question comes from Rochelle:

What is the best way to clean my plastic shoe storage containers? They looked great when I first got them and my closet looked beautifully organized. Now they look cloudy and filmy. Any suggestions?

Melissa Says:

Hi Rochelle! Dust and grime over the years can cloud up clear plastic boxes and bins. washing them with soap and water is sometimes not enough to remove it, since you can often get residue from the soap (and mineral deposits from the water), left behind. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to attack these with anything abrasive; that will only succeed in etching the plastic and making them permanently cloudy.

Instead, vinegar to the rescue (as always!). You have a few options—one is to fill the sink with hot water spiked with several cups of white vinegar. Separate the boxes into lids and bottoms (or drawers and holders, depending on their construction) and give as many of them a little soak as you can at a time, without nesting them inside each other. After 10 minutes, take them out and rinse them, and be sure to dry them well, inside and out, before putting your shoes back in them.

If the shoe boxes are constructed in a way that you can’t take them apart, or putting them in the sink is just too unwieldy, you can dip a clean, lint-free cloth (may I suggest a general purpose microfiber cloth?) in vinegar and give them a vigorous wipe down. Let them air out and dry completely so that your closet doesn’t smell like salad.

Good luck!

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  1. If the plastic is cloudy and filmy, it is most not dirt and grime, but rather plasticizer leaching out of the plastic itself. White vinegar will not dissolve it. It can be cleaned off with rubbing alcohol or strong detergent, but it will appear again over time.


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