Welcome to “Ask Recology,” a monthly feature from sponsor Recology King County.

You have questions, Recology has answers!

Recology King County

Hi, Recology!

I’ve always tried my best to clean out my containers before I place them in the recycling bin, but I’ve never been quite sure how clean they need to be. Can you explain how clean a recyclable should be before it can be recycled?


Hello Kelly,

We get this question a lot, and we’re glad you asked it!

The best practice is to ensure that your recyclables are completely empty, clean, and dry before you discard them in your recycling bin. This includes everything from hard plastic containers – like milk jugs and detergent bottles – to glass jars and metal cans. As a rule, we’d like these to be clean enough that you might even consider using them again – in fact, if you can reuse containers before throwing them out, that is even better! Extending the life of your recyclables can help to reduce the overall amount of waste your household produces. After rinsing your recyclables and removing any residue on them, they should be dry with no more than a few drops of water remaining.

As for food soiled paper products such as greasy pizza boxes and food soiled napkins and towels, these cannot be recycled and should instead be placed in your compost bin.

For more information regarding recycling contamination, please see our article linked here.

As always, we can answer any additional questions you may have through email, at RKCWasteZero@recology.com or via social media!

For more ideas on how to reduce waste, visit one of our Recology stores! The Burien Recology store is located at 15858 First Avenue S, #A100 Burien, WA (map below).

You can also find more Waste Zero tips on our Recology King County social media pages listed below:

Thank you,

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sponsored Posts like this are paid, “Native Advertisements” that help businesses and organizations improve their internet presence and all-important SEO. South King Media also underwrites fundraisers from local nonprofits. To learn more about how your business or organization can directly reach our expanding, engaged audience in South King County, please email Theresa Schaefer at vtheresa@comcast.net.