How clean is too clean when it comes to recycling? According to Waste Management, there's no need to scrub your recyclables sparking clean, especially in communities that have severe droughts. Instead, use a spatula to scrape the inside of cans and jars clean. The rule of thumb is that the recyclable container just needs to be empty. A glass jar half-full of jam is clearly not recyclable, so use it up or scrape it out before recycling. A little residual film on the inside from laundry detergent, salad dressing and even peanut butter is fine and will not contaminate a load of recyclables.