We all want to do our part by recycling, but some items make it harder than others. The prospect of simply throwing away a sticky peanut butter jar can be very tempting. But, done the right way, you can have that jar in tip-top-recycling shape without using too much energy or water! Read on for the proper way to recycle your peanut butter jars.

Note: These tips go for all nut butters, like cashew butter, almond butter, and more.

Why Do You Need To Clean Out The Jars?

The need to clean the jars boils down to making the recycling process easier and better for your city. 


Food-covered recyclables can present a health hazard to people working with them. Some foods left out for too long can grow mold and become really smelly. Additionally, leftover sugar can attract bugs and rodents. That’s not something you want in any facility. So do your recycling workers a favor and give your items a rinse!


Dirty recyclables do not earn as much money as clean ones. After the sorting process, items with similar materials are baled together to be sold as a bunch to companies that can break down the products. The more dirty and contaminated the bales, the lower the value. So cleaner items will help your city (and ultimately you, as a taxpayer) save money in the recycling process. 

Peanut butter jar cleaned for recycling.

Glass Versus Plastic Peanut Butter Jars

When it comes to plastic versus glass, there’s a big difference in the recycling world. The two need to be treated differently, so we’ll break our tips down by material.

Recycling Glass Peanut Butter Jars

Glass is hardy and can be recycled many times. Because of the extreme crushing and heating process that goes into breaking down the old glass, a little food left stuck to a jar isn’t the end of the world. It’ll get burned off. The burning process does create emissions, though. If you want to reduce emissions, rinsing your glass jars is still a good idea, as is removing the label (it’ll get burned off, so it’s not necessary to remove, but it does help keep the recycling process cleaner).

With glass peanut butter jars, if the lid is made of anything else (plastic, metal), it should be tossed or recycled separately. 

Recycling Plastic Peanut Butter Jars 

Plastic presents a slightly different story. Plastic is not as hardy and infinitely recyclable as glass. Getting as much food out of the jars will help a bunch in the recycling process. As with glass, removing the label is not necessary, but helps. 

If the lid is also plastic, you can clean it and recycle it too. Depending on your city’s recycling program, they may want the lid placed back on the jar or loose in the bin. If you replace it on the jar, make sure the jar is clean and dry at that point.

So, how do you clean those peanut butter jars?

1. Scrape out as much as you can

Get as much as possible out of the jar. Enjoy all the peanut butter! A small rubber spatula (like this Oxo Jar Spatula) can really help you get out that sticky peanut butter.

2. Soak and rinse

Put a few drops of dish soap into the jar, and then fill it with hot water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then pour out some of the water, put the lid back on, and shake. 

After dumping out the water, you should notice that a lot of the peanut butter has been removed. You can do this a second time if you think it needs it.

Peanut butter jar being cleaned for recycling.

3. Let dry and recycle

At this point, you can toss it in your recycling bin (although if it’s still wet, make sure it won’t get your plastics and papers wet). If you’re putting the plastic lid back on, you should let the jar dry before doing so. 

Alternative Methods

Some other tips on getting those peanut butter jars sparkling clean:

1. Get your dogs to help!

Dogs love peanut butter. Once you’ve gotten all you can out with a spoon or spatula, let your dogs do the rest! 

A few things to note, though. As peanut butter does contain fat, they shouldn’t eat it regularly, but it is a good occasional treat. And if your peanut butter contains xylitol (an artificial sweetener) it should not be given to dogs at all as it is toxic to them. Most don’t use xylitol – but you should check.  

2. Stick the jar in the dishwasher

If you just want to get the last little bits out, consider running the jar through the dishwasher. Make sure you peel off the label first or it’ll become a soggy mess.

This may all sound like a lot of work, but rest assured your are significantly helping out the environment and your city by recycling your jars. Thank you for doing your part!

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