Peanut butter is sticky. It takes several gallons of hot soapy water to wash it out so that it is ready for recycling.

Is there a better way to do this?

  • 8
    You mean aside from putting it in a dishwasher? Dec 9, 2014 at 20:18
  • 3
    Agree. And the alternative of paper towels is even less appealing. Dec 9, 2014 at 20:19
  • 4
    Couldn't you... scrub the insides?
    – fredley
    Dec 11, 2014 at 8:38
  • 4
    ... Why does it have to be clean to recycle? Honest question, I just throw my peanut butter jars in the recycling as-is.
    – Unionhawk
    Mar 13, 2015 at 15:02
  • 6
    @Unionhawk Public recycling in my neck of the woods mandates it.
    – Mooseman
    Mar 13, 2015 at 17:21

14 Answers 14


I have found that using hot, hot water from the faucet helps to soften the peanut butter and loosen it from the jar's edges and surface. Often times I will fill it with hot water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes or so, and then return to the jar and empty it. Then, using hot water I use the sprayer nozzle from my sink to maneuver within the jar and remove all of the leftovers.

  • 3
    I do the same with Nutella and a lot of greasy/sticky stuff, usually works well.
    – Laurent S.
    Aug 17, 2015 at 12:27
  • 9
    The fat that the hot water "melts" will gather further down in your drainage plumbing line. Be sure to use enough soap to emulsify the oil as well before discarding. Try screwing the lid onto the jar and shaking it to use mechanical action in addition to the hot water and soap. Discard before the liquid cools, rinse, and dry.
    – Stan
    Aug 20, 2017 at 2:16
  • 1
    Bonus tip: screw the lid back on with the water still in after a soak and give it a really good shake
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 11:06

Have a dog?1 Give it to him/her. The dog will love the treat, since it provides a bit of a puzzle. Most of the larger breeds have very long tongues, capable of reaching inside of the jar.

And.. of course, in the end, you'll be left with a licked-clean jar!

1. Don't have a dog? Give it to a friend that does, and ask them to recycle it when done


As AllisonC pointed out, a few PEANUT BUTTERS, ESPECIALLY THE ONES THAT ARE SUGAR FREE, may use a sweetener called Xylitol. This is lethal to dogs. Check your labels!

  • 8
    Note: This only works for natural peanut butter, since other kinds can have salt and other additives that are harmful to dogs. Dec 9, 2014 at 20:23
  • 11
    @MattS. Are you going through that many jars of peanut butter, and leaving THAT MUCH peanut butter in the container, that you're seriously worried about hurting the dog? I'd put the stain resistant chemicals on my carpet WAY higher up on the dangerous to a dog chart than a little residual pb. Dec 9, 2014 at 20:26
  • 1
    What you do to your dog is your choice. I just want it to be noted in case other people think to use their dogs as garbage cans. Dec 9, 2014 at 20:28
  • 6
    I have seen a dog cu their tongue on the edge of a peanut butter jar. Not likely a common occurrence, but the fact that i saw it happen makes me nervous about this solution.
    – Phlume
    Dec 9, 2014 at 20:32
  • 3
    Peanut butter is fine as long as it doesn't contain chocolate, as eating it can be deadly for dogs, because of toxic combination.
    – kenorb
    Jan 29, 2015 at 13:42

To help you get the remainings more easily out of the glass, there are silicone scrapers available in different shapes and sizes. They work quite well. Actually it works a lot better than you could do with a knife or spoon. Afterwards it should be clean enough for recycling.

Here's an image:


For the purposes of recycling glass you don't need to wash it perfectly clean. A small amount of fat doesn't do much harm to liquid glass (probably it will just burn and be gone at some point).

Here's a quote from a website on the topic:

Small amounts of food left don’t interfere with the glass and steel recycling process. Scrape all the solid food scraps out of jars and cans and then put them in the recycling bin. If you’re concerned about having left over food in the bin you can lightly rinse out your jars and cans. Using left over washing up or rinsing water is best as there’s no point wasting good water just to wash recycling.

If the jars are to be reused by some food producer (e.g., returnable containers) they will have better and more efficient cleaning processes than you have for cleaning their input material.

If you want to reuse the jar yourself, that's a different story though.

  • 1
    Most commercial peanut butter jars are now plastic, not metal, and the oil from peanut butter very definitely does have a bad effect on recycling the plastic material. Clean plastic can be remade into new containers (probably still food grade, but at worst things like buckets); oily plastic, at best, will wind up in "plastic lumber" products.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Oct 9, 2015 at 11:02
  • @ZeissIkon Good point. I'd recommend to not buy stuff packed in disposable (plastic) containers whenever possible.
    – moooeeeep
    Oct 25, 2015 at 11:13
  • Having a range of scrapers available is additionally good for getting the last serving out, which saves both time, (does a better job than a metal knife), and peanut butter. The scraper can do double-duty as a spreader, (in place of a knife).
    – agc
    Jun 22, 2018 at 7:44

Put a few tablespoons of flaxseed meal into the glass and rub against the wall with a wooden spoon. The flaxseed will pick up the peanut butter cleanly. Eat the mixture with yoghurt.


First, fill the jar with warm water and then use your fingers to wipe as much peanut butter as you can off the inside surface. (Don't spend more than a few seconds on this; it's not necessary to get all the peanut butter off at this point.)

Then empty the jar and fill it up a bit more than halfway with hot water and maybe a little dish soap. Screw the lid onto the jar, hold it securely, and shake it vigorously, turning it once or twice in the process. Ten or twenty seconds of agitation should very quickly dislodge all the remaining peanut butter. (In rare cases you may need to repeat the process with fresh hot water.)


I have many chipmunks in my yard. After scraping out what I could, I put the plastic peanut butter jar in the yard, wedged between heavy plant containers. Tossing in a little bird seed makes it even more appealing. When they're finished, it's more feasible to do the dish soap and hot water treatment.


First, use the jar properly empty.

When using the peanut butter, push the bits sticking to the side of the jar down into the main amount in the jar. If you do this regularly, you will not get a sticky residue on the sides, but an almost empty jar.

You can get out the bits left in the bottom with a spoon rather than a knife, making it a bit easier.

What you are left with just needs a rinse or a normal wash.

(You can also look for a different kind of peanut butter, one that is not as sticky, as is the most popular kind where I live.)

  • What are the other ingredients to make one kind less sticky than another? One brand that I know adds sugar to keep the oil from separating.
    – Stan
    Aug 20, 2017 at 2:38
  • It is Soy they use here to avoid the oil separation, sugar is added for taste and the kind of peanut butter I use does not have it as I do not like the taste.
    – Willeke
    Aug 20, 2017 at 9:53

Fill the jar half-way with water. Put in microwave, 2 minutes (or to get water sufficiently hot to semi-melt pb). Remove. Add dish soap. Swirl with dish brush/bottle brush. Empty. Toss in recycling.

  • I should have mentioned that this saves the paper towels, saves lots of running of hot water. If you don't have a microwave, boil hot water on the stove (just enough to half-way fill the jar in question, peanut butter or other oily, sticky mass). Put empty jar in sink, pour in near-boiling water, add couple drops dishsoap, and use a bottle brush or dish brush to swirl around. Empty jar of hot slosh. Takes mere seconds compared to the paper-towels approach, no rubbing, not much effort at all.
    – Kelli
    Jun 17, 2017 at 16:12

fill 1/4 with hot water, add a few drops of dish soap, put the lid on and shake vigorously for 30 seconds, rinse it out and done


Easiest and fastest way to clean out ANY jar for recycling...

2-3 WET paper towels with liquid dish soap. Use your elbow grease and just wipe the jar, the paper towel will pick up enough left over food to make it recyclable.

Recycling doesn't have to be a tedious job that requires 10 minutes of soaking. They just don't want people throwing in stuff that spoils and causing issues with he rest of the recyclables. Do a quick wipe and rinse, the thicker the paper towel the more it will pick up, quick fast and easy...


Peanut butter as an oil based food requires cleaning with an oil- if you want the recycled container really clean. First clean excess from container with spatula.

Then put a tablespoon (more or less depending on container size) of any on hand (inexpensive) vegetable oil in container, put the lid on and slosh it around thoroughly. You’ll see the PB begin to transform and loosen its grip.

Use a paper towel or whatever dry wipes you have to wipe the container clean.

Remember that Water (even hot water) and oil don’t mix, but with adequate elbow grease and a lot of paper towels, you can eventually get it clean but not like oil.


I hate to see all this use of hot water. Use a dog, squirrel, or chipmunk, or remove as much peanut butter as you can with a silicone scraper (as suggested elsewhere). Then, if you don't have a dishwasher, fill the jar with the soapy water after you've washed the dishes. Put the lid on (make sure it's completely full, although you probably can't avoid a tiny air bubble) and leave it to soak for an hour or more; it takes time for the soap to soak in. Later, pour out half of the water, give the jar a shake, then empty it and put it in the recycling.


I have found that using a nylon cleaning brush “magically” repels the peanut butter off of anything. When the jar is mostly empty, I turn on the faucet and start scrubbing away inside the jar and viola!, the peanut butter clumps in my sink strainer (which I toss in the garbage). It works really quickly!


It's peanut butter, a sink of hot water , a good dose of soap and a scrub . As you would clean any other dishes, sounds like it has done the job since the beginning ! of that dreaded day we started washing DISHES that was one of our first mistakes????.

  • This adds nothing to the existing answers.
    – Chenmunka
    Feb 12, 2021 at 16:18

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