I love repurposing stuff if I can. Things like jars and bottles are great to keep around just in case you need. One type of jar that I have a few of in my pantry is empty spice jars. These jars typically come with a shaker insert and seem like they would be very handy for storing things in!
Actually I have had my cinnamon and sugar mixture stored in an old spice jar for years. It is very handy to have some made up in a shaker jar ready for when I need it.
This summer I would like to try drying and storing my own herbs; they would also be great stored in a shaker jar. So I was checking out my collection of old spice jars and I noticed that they still smelled very strongly of their original contents. The spice jars reeked of garlic seasoning, barbeque seasoning and the like! I know it’s just an odour but you want them to smell clean when you go to reuse them!
I tried to clean them again but found that while the glass jar cleans up okay, it was the plastic lid that retained the smell. So it stands to reason that if you put the lid back on again the whole jar will start to stink again pretty soon!
I decided to try a couple of suggested methods for getting rid of the smell in jars. Adding vinegar and detergent to the jar and leaving it overnight was suggested in a comment here. Another link (here) suggested using baking soda and water to clean the smell out of jars.
The vinegar and detergent method didn’t seem to work but the baking soda appeared to help.
The original baking soda method suggested a short treatment time but I found that it didn’t get rid of all of the smell from the lid. So I modified it slightly, leaving the baking soda and water in the jar for longer. This seemed to clear the jar and the lid of any smell. I decided to air the jar as well to ensure the all the smells were gone. Here is the full method of what I did:
How to Clean Bad Smells out of Used Spice Jars
- Wash any residual spices from the jar with detergent and water (if you haven’t done this already)
- Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the jar
- Half fill the spice jar with water and then put the lid on (made sure to attach the plastic shaker insert too)
- Shake the jar for around 30 seconds and then set it aside overnight
- The next day rinse out the spice jar with clean water and allow jar, lid, and shaker insert to air dry separately
- Once dry avoid putting the lid back on the jar for as long as you can (leave it a few days if you can) so that the lid is exposed to the air
- Now that the smell is gone you can repurpose your jar!
I think the moral of this story is that if you want to reuse a spice jar that has had a strong smelling seasoning in it you need to plan ahead. I have found that the longer you can allow the jar to air the better. In particular the plastic lid and shaker insert need to be aired out to eliminate the bad smells.
Do you reuse your spice jars? How have you been able to get rid of any strong smells that linger in the jar?
If you also need help getting the label and sticky glue residue off your jars check out this easy method:
Removing Sticky Labels and Glue Residue from Jars
I’ve tried the things you mention and more! As far as I’ve experienced, stinky things impregnate the rubber seal for good. I wouldn’t boil the lids as it’s likely to melt the seal.
If I’m making something potent, I search out the jars with pongy lids.
It’s not anywhere near a good solution, but I score people’s old jars, with an eye to ex-jam jars, since they don’t smell. Sometimes a jar/lid’s too whiffy to bother with and it goes in the recycling.
Yes I agree Catalina, it is the plastic parts on my jars that seem to absorb the most smell. Depending on the herb/spice mix that was in the jar some seem to clean up better than others. I will also just put mine in the recycle if any are really whiffy!
I would like to make my little spice jars air tight so there spices stay fresh. Any ideas how to do that? Also how to remove air that gets in the jar when I open it to remove some spice?
Hi Shirah, how easy it is to keep the air out of your spice jars probably depends on how often you are opening them. I have seen the following article (link below) that talks about how to store herbs and spices for long term storage.
This lady uses vacuum sealing to keep her herbs and spice fresh. Perhaps if you have a read of her article it will give you some ideas! Best of luck!
Hello and thank you for this great tip on getting rid of smells from glass jars. However, my issue is with vintage spice jars. The glass stopper is covered with a plastic seal that I can not remove. Any suggestions? Thank you.
Hi Wanda, if you’re worried about getting moisture under the non-removable seal, perhaps you could try dry baking soda? I know baking soda alone has great odor absorbing powers. Maybe you could put some in your jars and put the lid on for a few hours. You could even invert the jar so that the plastic seal comes into contact with the baking soda. I can’t image it would do any damage so you could probably leave it for a couple of days if you need to. I hope this helps!
Anyone here have a tip for cleaning lots of lids at once ? I salvages over 50 spice jars from my late mother in law. The glass went in the dishwasher and came out fine but all the lids that have been in a kitchen for +10 years and are grimy , nasty and funked up with grease, dirt and dust need to be cleaned to . They will fly all over the dishwasher so that’s a no-go and I have no way to hold them down. I already soaked them twice in warm soapy water , but it does not do the job very well and get all the nooks and inner lid thingies.
So does someone have any idea how to do this ? all at once , to really loosen the gunk off of these and then somehow rinse in soapy or clean water and be done with —fingers crossed, coz there’s a heck load of lids and inner lids 🙁
Hi Dame, the only thing that I can think of to try is using bi carb soda and vinegar. I would try soaking a few in some vinegar for a while and then add some bi carb soda. Just make sure you do it in a sink because it will probably fizz up quite a bit. The bubbly reaction of the surface might help to loosen any grease and grime.
I’m not sure what else to try, maybe someone else will comment if they have a better idea! Good luck!