Here's What The Different Tupperware Symbols Actually Mean - The Daily Meal (2023)

Kitchen Storage And Preservation

Here's What The Different Tupperware Symbols Actually Mean - The Daily Meal (1)

Ahmad Nazrol Bin Mohammed/Shutterstock

ByHolly Riddle|Oct. 18, 2022 1:37 pm EST

According to Tupperware, the now-iconic brand got its start when an innovative chemist, inspired by the seal on a paint can, sought out a way to create a similar container to cut down on food waste. Now, Tupperware is so popular that many use the term to simply refer to any plastic container used for storing leftovers, regardless of the actual brand — much like how "Band-Aid" now colloquially refers to all bandages, or how "Kleenex" colloquially refers to all tissues. You very likely have a stockpile of the stuff sitting in your kitchen right now, neatly stacked or otherwise.

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But despite Tupperware's remarkable convenience and popularity, these plastic containers aren't as indestructible and all-purpose as you might assume. Sure, it seems easy and straightforward to throw your leftovers piping hot into your favorite well-worn Tupperware container, toss it into the freezer, and then back into the microwave before the dishwasher a week later — but should you be doing all this? Food can actually become toxic when reheated the wrong way and, sometimes, the wrong cleaning method can ruin your Tupperware. You might need to take a look at the symbols on the bottom of your plastic containers. They can tell you everything you should and shouldn't do with your most beloved plastic products.

The snowflake symbol

If you spot a snowflake symbol on the bottom of your plastic container — Tupperware or otherwise — it means the container is safe for freezer storage, according to the Plastics Industry Association. However, just because a container is suitable for freezer storage, that doesn't mean that there aren't still best practices for freezing foods in your Tupperware. Don't make a big mistake with your frozen food. For the best results, Tupperware has a few tips.

Rather than take your hot food directly from the pan into Tupperware and into the freezer, the brand recommends placing your hot food in a bowl and then placing that bowl in an ice bath, to cool the food as quickly as possible. Once the food is chilled, you can then place it in your plastic container for freezing. This is also a good time to remove any fat that may have accumulated at the top of your food during the cooling process. For easier thawing and reheating later, you can also think ahead and pre-portion your food so you only have to thaw what you want to eat at any given time. Tupperware also recommends undercooking your food just slightly before freezing, if you plan on cooking the food further after thawing.

The sudsy plates symbol

Here's What The Different Tupperware Symbols Actually Mean - The Daily Meal (3)

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There are a few different symbols that may appear on the bottom of your Tupperware or other plastic containers that may indicate the container is safe to clean in the dishwasher versus by hand. Usually, though, despite variations, the dishwasher-safe symbol will depict a few dishes — plates, glasses, flatware, etcetera — surrounded by suds or water droplets or streams. Sometimes, you'll also see a small line of text below the symbol that will tell you if a container is only suitable for washing on your dishwasher's top rack (via the Plastics Industry Association).

However, as anyone who's washed a Tupperware container knows,getting your Tupperware truly sparkling clean is easier said than done. It's all too commonto find the container has turned a distasteful orange or red hue after being filled with something like spaghetti or chili. To remove those unsightly stains, as well as remove odors from your Tupperware, the American Cleaning Institute recommends allowing the discolored containers to sit in the sun for several hours, before soaking them in a mixture of bleach and water — two teaspoons of bleach to every gallon of water — and then giving them another clean before use. You can also scrub your Tupperware with mixtures of baking soda and water — one teaspoon of baking soda to one cup of water.

The microwave symbol

Here's What The Different Tupperware Symbols Actually Mean - The Daily Meal (4)


If you're wondering whether or not it's really safe to pop that Tupperware container in the microwave, just look for the microwave symbol on the bottom of your container. As Tupperware tweeted, you'll see a box with three wavy lines inside it if the container is safe for microwave use.

Sometimes, the microwave symbol will differ, though, on plastic containers that are not officially Tupperware-branded. In these cases, the Plastics Industry Association notes, the symbol may show a more realistic rendering of a microwave, with buttons and a window; a dish of food with a series of wavy lines over it; just the wavy lines and the phrase "micro"; or just a series of wavy lines on their own.

However, even with that microwave-safe symbol, you still might want to think twice about microwaving your food in its plastic container. As Food Network explains, many plastic containers contain chemicals that may filter into your food when microwaving, especially if those plastic containers are on the older side and possibly scratched. So, next time you need to reheat your leftovers, just take that extra step to move them from the Tupperware to a plate and use this microwave trick that makes reheating leftovers easy — just in case.

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The microwave symbol with a vertical line

Here's What The Different Tupperware Symbols Actually Mean - The Daily Meal (5)


Don't just assume that if you see a microwave symbol on the bottom of your plastic container that it's safe to use in the microwave. Look closely. If you see a box with three wavy lines and a larger, diagonal line set over it, keep the container out of the microwave, as Tupperware says that symbol means the container is not microwave-safe. You'll need to remove your food from the container and reheat it another way.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends only reheating leftovers in the oven or on the stovetop or, in the microwave only with an appropriate container. Slow cookers aren't recommended for reheating leftovers, as the USDA says they won't reheat the leftovers quickly enough to keep food out of the "Danger Zone," where temperatures allow bacteria to grow. Regardless of your preferred method, make sure all your leftovers are reheated to at least 165 degrees. If you end up placing your leftovers on a microwave-safe dish and returning them to the microwave, the USDA further recommends covering the food and stirring and rotating it during the reheating process.

The fork and wine glass symbol

Here's What The Different Tupperware Symbols Actually Mean - The Daily Meal (6)


This is a symbol that you'll see on a variety of plastic products, beyond just food containers. The outline of a fork and wine glass, sometimes in a square or sometimes standing alone, indicates a plastic product is safe for food contact (via the Plastics Industry Association). But what exactly does "safe for food contact" mean?

According to Michigan State University Extension, a plastic container that's considered safe for food contact, or "food grade," is one that won't transfer chemicals onto your food that have been deemed unsafe for consumption. That doesn't, however, mean that food grade plastics aren't transferring any chemicals at all to your food or, later, into your body.

As The Guardian reported, a range of supposed safe chemicals have been found in common food-safe plastics, and some of these chemicals have even been linked to a variety of health issues. Furthermore, the Guardian article reported via a U.S. Food & Drug Administration spokesperson that the FDA doesn't actually double-check that all plastic containers are safe under all conditions. In fact, in many cases, it leaves labeling up to the manufacturer — yet another reason why you might just want to hand wash your plastic containers and forgo microwaving, regardless of what symbols you see on the bottom of your Tupperware.

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Recycling symbols

Here's What The Different Tupperware Symbols Actually Mean - The Daily Meal (7)


You're probably familiar with recycling symbols since they're so prevalent in our daily lives. Most are just a triangle with a number inside. But even though you can recognize the symbol that indicates a product is fit for recycling, do you know what the recycling symbols on your plastic really meanor whatthe numbers indicate?

As Tupperware explains, in the plastic industry specifically, recycling symbols will include a number between 1 and 7. The number indicates the type of plastic used to create the product. Some Tupperware products feature a "7," which means the product was created using "polycarbonate, acrylic, liquid crystal polymers, and nylon" or a combination of plastic materials. However, Tupperware also said that some of its products do not show a recycling symbol at all, as Tupperware is intended to be reused, not recycled, and boasts a lifetime guarantee.

Broadly, though, the Plastic Soup Foundation notes that the plastic recycling symbols aren't commonly used by recycling centers and are most helpful as a way for consumers to decide what types of plastics they would prefer to use. Since symbols with the number 7 can be made from a combination of plastic materials, that's not very informative; however, plastic products displaying numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are considered safe for use around food, while those displaying numbers 3 and 6 are not (3 is most usually found on products like building materials, though 6 is sometimes found on disposable food packaging).

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What do the symbols on my Tupperware mean? ›

The main purpose of these symbols is to represent whether your Tupperware is food safe, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, freezer safe, and the recycling information. Fortunately, most plastic jars or containers include safety instructions on the bottom, which is fantastic.

What symbol on Tupperware means dishwasher safe? ›

If you find the Tupperware symbol of a glass with water drops or plates with diagonal lines this means your container is dishwasher safe. We recommend still putting your containers on the TOP rack of the dishwasher just to keep them a little safer.

What does the cup and fork symbol mean on Tupperware? ›

Food Safe. First things first: Is your container safe to store food in at all? If you're not sure, check the bottom for a little cup and fork design. This means the container is approved for use with food.

What does 5 on Tupperware mean? ›

Most Tupperware is imprinted with the number five, representing polypropylene, generally a food safe plastic. Unfortunately, most hard plastics coded in the “five” category are not usually accepted through curbside recycling, but you can recycle your Tupperware this way.

When should I throw away Tupperware? ›

5 Signs It's Time to Replace Your Plastic Storage Containers
  1. It's more than 10 years old. ...
  2. The lid is broken or lost. ...
  3. It's stinky or stained. ...
  4. It has a weird texture. ...
  5. You just don't like it.
May 1, 2019

How often should you throw away Tupperware? ›

There's no standard rule of thumb about when it's time to throw out your plastic containers. How long your containers last depends on how well you care for them, and the quality of plastic they're made of. You'll know it's time to toss your containers if they become warped or cracked.

Is 40 year old Tupperware safe to use? ›

BPA, as well as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury, are dangerous substances for humans, so if you've been using vintage Tupperware, the best thing you can do is not use them anymore. Plastic not only harms the environment but has also directly harmed humans for years.

Which Tupperware is microwave safe? ›

You can place Tupperware in the microwave if it has a microwave-safe label, a microwave symbol, and is made with plastic #5 (polypropylene, or PP). Can you microwave Ziploc Tupperware? Ziploc Tupperware is microwave-safe to store, reheat, and eat your food safely.

What is the symbol for microwave safe dishes? ›

Check the bottom of the container for a symbol. Microwave safe is usually a microwave with some wavy lines on it. If they container has a #5 on it, it is made from polypropylene, PP, so it is generally considered microwave safe.

What does snowflake on plastic mean? ›

Snowflake-looking symbol? That'll mean that the container is freezer safe. Look for this symbol when you're thinking of storing some delicious leftovers in the freezer (stew, soup and more).

What does the 1 in the triangle on plastic containers mean? ›

The symbol with a 1 represents PET plastic; one of the most common types used for food and beverage packaging. The vast majority of soft drink and water bottles are made from PET plastic.

How do you identify Tupperware pieces? ›

If you're interested in scooping up some vintage Tupperware, but aren't sure if it's legit, there's an easy way to tell. Case said, “To authenticate any piece of Tupperware, look for a two-part number (its mold number) stamped somewhere on the product and make sure the word "Tupperware" is also visible.”

What does the glass and fork symbol mean? ›

The international symbol for "food safe" material is a wine glass and a fork symbol. The symbol indicates that the material used in the product is considered safe for food contact. This includes food and water containers, packaging materials, cutlery etc.

What does 3 mean on plastic containers? ›

Plastic 3 is not going to be among safe recycling codes. Known as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), this is very dangerous and one of the least recyclable plastic. Still, plastic number 3 is as widely spread as PET plastic. PVC recycle number means that the item is strong and elastic due to softening chemicals, – phthalates.

What is the symbol for freezer safe? ›

A snowflake is probably the most easily recognizable indication of cold, which makes it the perfect symbol to mark freezer safe kitchenware.

Should you wash Tupperware before using? ›

Should I wash new plastic food containers before using them? It's unlikely that plastic food containers will be sterilised before they are packaged, so you should always wash new products to be safe. See our advice on hand-washing or putting them in the dishwasher.

Are Ziploc bags safe for food storage? ›

All Ziploc® brand Containers and microwavable Ziploc® brand Bags meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens, as well as room, refrigerator and freezer temperatures.

What should I do with old Tupperware? ›

Plastic food storage containers and lids-such as Tupperware containers-that have the 1 or 2 recycling symbol on the bottom are accepted in almost all local recycling programs, provided they are empty, clean and dry. Recycle with the lid attached. Most recycling programs also accept #5 plastics.

Should you store Tupperware with the lid on? ›

There are some exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, don't store Tupperware containers with the lids on. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you waste so much space by doing this. Keeping lids separate makes for a more manageable Tupperware organization system overall.

Is Tupperware really worth the money? ›

If you're concerned about the longevity of your plastic containers, Tupperware certainly has a reputation for durability. "An ordinary plastic container can last for a very long time; a Tupperware container can last for probably three lifetimes," says Matthew Tung, another CHOICE expert tester.

Why does my old Tupperware smell funny? ›

According to Hunker, Tupperware and other reusable plastic containers hold onto smells because they are made from polypropylene, a porous type of plastic. This porosity allows the container to absorb properties of the food inside it, such as scent, especially when the food is kept in it for a long period of time.

Is glass Tupperware better than plastic? ›

Is glass Tupperware better than plastic Tupperware? Although glass Tupperware is heavier and easier to break, overall it is the better choice. By using glass Tupperware, you can be certain that your food will not be contaminated by harmful chemicals. Glass is natural, sustainable, and recyclable.

What year did Tupperware stop using BPA? ›

As of March 2010, items sold by Tupperware US & CA are BPA free. Join us in our mission to Do Good for people and the planet through thoughtful and conscientious product innovation and design practices that help to better lives and reduce waste.

What is the lifespan of Tupperware? ›

Your tupperware plastic containers are old if you have had them since 2010. Tupperware has a lifespan of 20 years, depending on quality.

Is it safe to microwave Ziploc Tupperware? ›

Are Ziploc Food Storage Containers Microwave Safe? Yes! All Ziploc food storage containers are microwave safe, allowing you to store, heat and eat your food safely in the same container.

Is Olive Garden Tupperware microwave safe? ›

Thankfully, Olive Garden's containers are microwave and dishwasher safe, so you can reuse them if you'd like, but I'm sure that many guests are unaware of this.

Can you put hot food in Tupperware? ›

When it comes to ensuring the safety of your tupperware contents, the biggest factor to manage is temperature, says Schaffner. To avoid dangerous bacteria growth, hot food needs to be kept above 140 degrees F, and cold food needs to be stored below 40 degrees F.

What are 3 microwave safe containers? ›

Glass-ceramic ware and heatproof glass ware are safe in the microwave oven. Oven cooking bags, baskets made of straw and wood (without metal), wax paper, parchment paper, and vented plastic bags are all safe to use in the microwave.

Do Mason jars have a microwave safe symbol? ›

Yes, newer jars have a microwave-safe symbol on them. It is important to keep in mind that glass mason jars are non-reactive but still become very hot to the touch. For this reason, it's best not to package anything that requires long periods of microwave heating in mason jars.

What is the dishwasher safe symbol for plastic? ›

In general, the most common plastic that is used for food storage lids and containers is polypropylene, which is top rack safe and can be run in the dishwasher. This plastic food safe temperature is 210 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can be identified by the number 5 plastic recycling symbol (PP for polypropylene).

What is the clock symbol on plastic? ›

Most commonly these "clock" symbols only indicate the mold used to form the part -- quality dept at the factory can then quickly track down which mold may need maintenance if faulty product is noticed.

Can you store food in plastic containers in freezer? ›

Rigid containers and flexible bags or wrapping are two general types of packaging materials that are safe for freezing. Rigid containers made of plastic or glass are suitable for all packs and are especially good for liquid packs. Straight sides on rigid containers make the frozen food much easier to remove.

Can glass Tupperware go in the dishwasher? ›

Glass storage containers can be put on the bottom or top rack of the dishwasher. The plastic lids should ALWAYS be placed on the top rack to avoid warping or cracking during drying.

What does number 2 plastic container mean? ›

#2 - HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

HDPE plastic is the stiff plastic used to make milk jugs, detergent and oil bottles, toys, and some plastic bags. HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic.

What does a triangle symbol with a 7 mean? ›

Any plastic that does not fall under one of those six types has a 7 inside the triangle. These plastics include nylon and polycarbonate and are found in certain food containers, signs and displays, computers and electronic devices, DVDs, sunglasses, and bulletproof materials.

What does 2 mean on a plastic container? ›

2: HDPE (High density polyethylene)

They're those used to make milk jugs, shampoo bottles, cleaning product containers and detergent bottles. HDPE products CAN be recycled.

What is the most sought after Tupperware? ›

Without any further ado, here are some of the most valuable vintage Tupperware sets that are out there.
  1. Bell Tumblers from 1946. ...
  2. Wonderlier Bowls from 1946. ...
  3. The Millionaire Collection's Salt and Pepper Shakers from 1960. ...
  4. Servalier Astro Bowls from 1972. ...
  5. Cake Taker from the 1970s.
Mar 13, 2018

How do I know if my plastic container is food grade? ›

The easiest way to check is to look for the Resin Identification Code—i.e., recycling number—which identifies the type of plastic material. The code consists of a triangle of arrows surrounding a number between 1 and 7. Generally, numbers 1 through 7 indicate food grade plastic.

Is all Tupperware marked? ›

They are all marked with the brand name, so you'll never confuse similar plastic storage containers with genuine Tupperware. Also, be aware that all Tupperware is marked with a mold number. "Every Tupperware product has a two-part number stamped into it. The first part (before the dash) is the mold number.

What does the symbol food mean? ›

Food, eating and the fulfillment of hunger can be seen as symbols that connect consciousness and the unconscious. Food, connected with instinctive and spiritual energies through nurturing, care and an attitude of honor, is a symbolic representation of the transcendent.

What does a glass symbol on plastic mean? ›

Glass. This symbol indicates that the packaging is made of glass, and that it can be recycled. Glass bottles and jars can either be recycled in a bottle bank (split into different colours), or through glass household recycling collection.

What plastic symbol is 5? ›

PP, or polypropylene plastic, , is appropriately marked by the number five symbol including the acronym PP. Thanks to its durability, strength, and low weight, this plastic is utilized in furniture, luggage, toys, and the lining and external borders of cars.

Is plastic number 1 safe? ›

Number 1 Plastic:

This is a clear polyethylene terephtalate or PET. This plastic is used for water bottles and soda bottles and is generally safe. However, it's made with a porous surface that traps bacteria, so it's not a good idea to reuse these bottles once they are empty.

What does a 5 in a triangle mean on a plastic container? ›

The "5" inside a triangle on a plastic container means PP or Polypropylene, which is one of the safer kinds of plastics! It is very much recyclable! Polypropylene medicine bottles, caps, straws, ketchup bottles and yogurt containers can be recycled into trays, pallets, bins, bicycle racks and even brooms!

What is the Tupperware symbol for dishwasher safe? ›

If you find the Tupperware symbol of a glass with water drops or plates with diagonal lines this means your container is dishwasher safe. We recommend still putting your containers on the TOP rack of the dishwasher just to keep them a little safer.

What is symbol for dishwasher safe? ›

Dishwasher safe symbols

Dishes with a symbol that illustrates water droplets next to a wine glass positioned upright or upside down can be placed in the dishwasher. This symbol includes a large dish next to a small dish below diagonal lines representing the ability to wash in a dishwasher wash cycle.

What does the microwave safe symbol on plastic containers mean? ›

Microwave Safe. Squiggly lines indicate that your container is microwave safe. This symbol can vary a lot, sometimes showing an image of a microwave, or sometimes a dish set below radiation waves, but the squiggly lines are a constant. Squiggly lines mean you can reheat that sucker with ease.

What are the different symbols on plastic containers? ›

  • Food Safe. It's a no-brainer that the container made for storing food must be safe. ...
  • Dishwasher Safe. ...
  • Freezer Safe. ...
  • Microwave Safe. ...
  • #3 PVC for Polyvinyl chloride. ...
  • #4 LDPE for Low-density polyethylene. ...
  • #5 PP for Polypropylene. ...
  • #6 PS for Polystyrene.
Mar 11, 2020

What do the codes on plastic containers mean? ›

The number is a resin identification code that tells you what kind of plastic that material is made of. Plastics that have #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE) are the most commonly recycled plastics. Plastics #3 , #4, #5, #6 and #7 are generally tougher to recycle and are not universally collected in local recycling programs.

How do I identify my Tupperware product? ›

Genuine Tupperware
  1. Look for the Tupperware logo at both the seals and the bases.
  2. Look for its product codes.
  3. Ask the Tupperware sales person which parts are covered under the Tupperware Lifetime warranty. If the sales person does not know it, do not buy from this person.

What are the different plastic symbols? ›

Here we explain the type of plastic relating to each symbol.
  • 1 – PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate.
  • 2 – HDPE or High Density Polyethylene.
  • 3 – PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride.
  • 4 – LDPE or Low Density Polyethylene.
  • 5 – PP or Polypropylene.
  • 6 – PS or Polystyrene.
  • 7 – Other.
Oct 29, 2019

What do the 7 recycling symbols mean? ›

7: Other. Any type of plastic that doesn't fit into one of the first six categories falls under this heading. Products stamped with a 7 are often made out of multiple plastic types or out of other types of plastic that can't easily be recycled.

What does 5 in a triangle mean? ›

The "5" inside a triangle on a plastic container means PP or Polypropylene, which is one of the safer kinds of plastics! It is very much recyclable! Polypropylene medicine bottles, caps, straws, ketchup bottles and yogurt containers can be recycled into trays, pallets, bins, bicycle racks and even brooms!

What plastic numbers to avoid? ›

To make a long story short: plastic recycling numbers 2, 4 and 5 are the safest. Whereas plastic numbers 1, 3, 6 and 7 must be avoided. But it does not indicate that you can fearlessly use safer plastic. All plastic products can leach toxic chemicals when heated or damaged.

What is the oldest Tupperware product? ›

When it was first released in 1946, the bowl—Tupperware's very first product—was widely praised by the burgeoning plastic industry, says Nickles, which wanted quality plastic products in consumer hands. “It was also featured as an icon of modern design,” she says.

What is the microwave safe symbol? ›

Check the bottom of the container for a symbol. Microwave safe is usually a microwave with some wavy lines on it. If they container has a #5 on it, it is made from polypropylene, PP, so it is generally considered microwave safe.

What do these symbols mean that are commonly imprinted on plastics? ›

Officially, the symbol embedded on most plastics is called a “resin identification code” and it's numbers, 1 to 7, help us to identify the type of plastic it is made from. It does not indicate the recyclability of a product. We'll say it again: A plastic recycling symbol ≠ A product is recyclable.

What is the real recycling symbol? ›

The universal recycling symbol (U+2672 ♲ UNIVERSAL RECYCLING SYMBOL or U+267B ♻ BLACK UNIVERSAL RECYCLING SYMBOL in Unicode) is internationally recognized for symbol for recycling activity. The symbol's creation originates on the first Earth Day in 1970, where the logo depicted is a Möbius strip.


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