Miscellaneous

How to Clean a Stained or Dirty Cooler

Coolers are part of many adventures in the great outdoors. As a result, they’re exposed to all kinds of dirt, grime, and debris. It’s no wonder they get so dirty!

How do you clean your cooler? What happens if you don’t? It’s time to dive into the ultimate guide to a clean cooler!

What’s Inside Your Cooler?

What's Inside Your Cooler?

You use a cooler for barbeques, tailgates, and pool parties. With all that use, you’re going to have leftover gunk and grime not limited to:

  • Mold
  • Water marks
  • Stains
  • Nasty odors
  • Dirt
What's Inside Your Cooler?

The good news is these are extremely easy to remove with the right ingredients and a little bit of effort. Set up a spot outside, grab your hose, and get ready to clean!

How to Clean a Moldy Cooler

How to Clean a Moldy Cooler

Mold isn’t welcome on your food or in your house, so it also shouldn’t be found in your cooler. Luckily, it’s easy to get rid of this pesky fungus with these easy steps:

  • Step One: Rinse out the inside of your cooler using a hose.
  • Step Two: Clean with a mix of dish soap, baking soda, and warm water.
  • Step Three: Use the hose to wash out all the soap from inside the cooler.
  • Step Four: Mix warm water and bleach; clean the moldy spots and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Step Five: Rinse the cooler out one more time with the hose. Repeat the process if necessary.
How to Clean a Moldy Cooler
  1. Step 1
    Step 1

    Rinse Out the Inside

    First things first, start by rinsing away any muck or dirt from the inside your cooler. This will help make the mold easier to remove.

    Step 1
  2. Step 2
    Step 2

    Use Soap & Baking Soda

    Mix 3 drops of dish soap, 1 cup of baking soda, and 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket. Dip a sponge in the mixture and wipe down the inside of the cooler.

    Step 2
  3. Step 3
    Step 3

    Rinse Again

    Remove all the soap and grime from inside the cooler by spraying it down again with a hose.

    Step 3
  4. Step 4
    Step 4

    Clean with Bleach

    Mix 1 gallon of water and a cup of bleach. Saturate a cloth with the mixture and use it to clean the inside of the cooler. Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes.

    Step 4
  5. Step 5
    Step 5

    Rinse One Last Time

    Rinse the cooler again to remove the bleach and any leftover grime. Repeat the process until the mold is removed and then wipe everything down with a clean towel.

    Step 5
Pro Tip

Pro Tip:

Always let your cooler air dry with the lid open after cleaning. This reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth.

How to Clean a Stained Cooler

How to Clean a Stained Cooler

Coolers are filled with food and ice, and as a result, they’ll accumulate stains and water spots over time. These blemishes are easy to remove when you follow these steps:

  • Step One: Rinse out the inside of your cooler using a hose.
  • Step Two: Wipe down with white vinegar that’s been diluted in water.
  • Step Three: Use the hose to wash out all the vinegar from inside the cooler.
  • Step Four: Soak a towel in lemon juice and clean the stained areas.
  • Step Five: Spray down your cooler with a hose one more time.
  • Step Six: Allow your cooler to air dry in the sun.
How to Clean a Stained Cooler
  1. Step 1
    Step 1

    Rinse Out the Inside

    You should always start by rinsing the inside of your cooler. This gets rid of any residual dirt and grime.

    Step 1
  2. Step 2
    Step 2

    Wipe Down with White Vinegar

    Dilute a cup of white vinegar in water and then dip a rag in the solution and wipe down the inside of your cooler. This household ingredient is a whiz at removing unwanted germs and spots.

    Step 2
  3. Step 3
    Step 3

    Rinse Again

    Now that the white vinegar has worked its magic, rinse the cooler out again using your garden hose.

    Step 3
  4. Step 4
    Step 4

    Use Lemon Juice

    Soak a clean towel in lemon juice and run it across the stubborn stains. If they persist, scrub with dish soap and then try the lemon-soaked towel again.

    Step 4
  5. Step 5
    Step 5

    Rinse One More Time

    Take your hose and rinse it all out one more time. Your cooler should be lemony fresh!

    Step 5
  6. Step 6
    Step 6

    Let It Sit in the Sun to Dry

    A little bit of Vitamin D can work wonders when it comes to cleaning your cooler. Set it out with the lid open and let it soak up the sun!

    Step 6
Pro Tip

Pro Tip:

If your cooler has a drain plug, make sure it stays open during storage.

How to Get Rid of a Bad Smell in Your Cooler

How to Get Rid of a Bad Smell in Your Cooler

You had an awesome time at last week’s fish fry, but it’s unfortunately making your cooler smell like Sea World. It’s easy to get rid of any dank odors with these simple steps:

  • Step One: Rinse out the inside of the cooler using a hose.
  • Step Two: Scrub everything down with soap and water. Rinse it all out.
  • Step Three: Mix baking soda and water and clean the inside of the cooler. Let it sit for 1-2 days before rinsing out.
  • Step Four: Soak a towel in lemon juice and clean the entire inside.
  • Step Five: Spray down your cooler with a hose one more time.
  • Step Six: Dry with a clean towel and then set outside.
How to Get Rid of a Bad Smell in Your Cooler
  1. Step 1
    Step 1

    Rinse Out the Inside

    There’s nothing a good rinse can’t fix! Start off by spraying down the inside of your cooler.

    Step 1
  2. Step 2
    Step 2

    Scrub with Soap & Water

    Pour dish soap into a bucket of water and use a sponge to wipe down the entire inside of the cooler. Rinse it all out before proceeding to the next step.

    Step 2
  3. Step 3
    Step 3

    Mix Baking Soda & Water

    Mix baking soda and water and rub it along the inside of the cooler. Close the lid and let the paste sit for a day or two before rinsing out.

    Step 3
  4. Step 4
    Step 4

    Use Lemon Juice

    Soak a washcloth in lemon juice and clean the entire inside of the cooler thoroughly.

    Step 4
  5. Step 5
    Step 5

    Rinse One More Time

    The smell should be completely gone, but to make sure everything’s squeaky clean, rinse out your cooler one more time.

    Step 5
  6. Step 6
    Step 6

    Let the Cooler Air Dry

    Wipe down the cooler first with a clean towel and then set it outside with the lid open to let it dry completely.

    Step 6
Pro Tip

Pro Tip:

A deep clean isn’t always necessary, but is definitely a good idea if your cooler has been holding any meat, especially fish.

How Do You Clean a Dirty Cooler?

How Do You Clean a Dirty Cooler?

Things got a little crazy during your last camping trip, and now your cooler is covered in dirt. Not to worry! Get your hose ready and follow these seven easy steps:

  • Step One: Rinse out the inside of the cooler using a hose.
  • Step Two: Clean using a mixture of baking soda, dish soap, and water.
  • Step Three: Dump out the water and dry with a clean washcloth.
  • Step Four: Use a magic eraser inside the cooler for caked-in dirt.
  • Step Five: Wash out the inside of the cooler using a hose.
  • Step Six: Remove any dirt from the outside of the cooler with a magic eraser.
  • Step Seven: Spray down the cooler with a hose one last time.
How Do You Clean a Dirty Cooler?
  1. Step 1
    Step 1

    Rinse Out the Inside

    It’s important to give your cooler a quick rinse before you start the deep clean.

    Step 1
  2. Step 2
    Step 2

    Use Baking Soda

    Mix baking soda, dish soap, and warm water in a bucket. Use a thick sponge, like the one you use to clean your car, to remove the dirt. Rinse the cooler after 10 to 15 minutes.

    Step 2
  3. Step 3
    Step 3

    Dump Out the Water & Dry

    Turn the cooler over outside to get rid of the dirty water. From there, take a clean washcloth and wipe down the entire inside of your cooler.

    Step 3
  4. Step 4
    Step 4

    Use a Magic Eraser on the Outside

    Use a Magic Eraser to wipe down the outside of your cooler. These are insanely affordable and can be found at most grocery or department stores.

    Step 4
  5. Step 5
    Step 5

    Rinse the Cooler

    Now that you’ve got all the dirt from the inside and outside, it’s time to rinse it all away! Afterward, dry with a clean towel.

    Step 5
  6. Step 6
    Step 6

    Use a Magic Eraser on the Inside

    Keep your Magic Eraser handy! The inside of your cooler should be completely dry, which means you can run through it again with the Magic Eraser for any remaining dirt.

    Step 6
  7. Step 7
    Step 7

    Dry Your Cooler

    For good measure, rinse it out one more time and dry with a new, clean towel.

    Step 7
Pro Tip

Pro Tip:

Cooler cleaning can be time-consuming. Put on some music and give yourself enough time to work.

Want to see all this cooler cleaning in action? Check out this helpful video!

How Often Should You Clean Your Cooler?

How Often Should You Clean Your Cooler?

You should clean your portable cooler once every 3 to 6 months. If it’s outrageously dirty or smelly though, it might be worth cleaning it out before your next barbeque or pool party.

Deep cleans are extremely important when it comes to any container that’s in contact with food like your cooler. Take a look at what can happen from poor sanitation!

How Often Should You Clean Your Cooler?
Why You Should Clean Your Cooler
Why You Should Clean Your Cooler

The Bottom Line

It isn’t cool to have a dirty, smelly cooler. After all, nothing quite ruins someone’s appetite like mold and foul odors. Take some time and energy to clean your cooler before the next big outdoor party!

References

EHow. (2017, July 14). How to Clean a Cooler. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyoNPaelhN4

Prasertong, A. (2019). 6 Ways to Clean Smelly Plastic Containers Without Harsh Chemicals. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.thekitchn.com/6-ways-to-clean-smelly-plastic-containers-without-harsh-chemicals-186220

Flanigan, A. (2019). How to Clean Mold Off of a Boat Cooler. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.hunker.com/12002176/how-to-clean-mold-off-of-a-boat-cooler

Jaques, L. (2015, January 2). 11 Ways to Remove Stains From Plastic. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://foodal.com/knowledge/cleaning/11-ways-remove-stains-plastic/

Aguirre, S. (2019, February 6). How to Remove Stains From Stainless Steel. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.thespruce.com/remove-brown-stains-from-stainless-steel-1900549

Coleman. (2019). Cleaning Your Cooler. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.coleman.com/Coleman-xtremecoolers.html

Jessica. (2019). How to Clean a Cooler and Sanitize It Too. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.mom4real.com/how-to-clean-a-cooler-and-sanitize-it-too/

Ansel, K. (2018, June 25). Keeping Your Cooler Clean. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/wash/keeping-your-cooler-clean

Whitney, A. (2018, January 18). 18 Places You Should Be Cleaning With Vinegar in Your Kitchen. Retrieved February 12, 2019, from https://www.bonappetit.com/story/cleaning-with-vinegar-in-kitchen

BCS Culligan. (2019). Cooler Disinfection Guidelines. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://bcsculligan.com/cooler-disinfection-guidelines/

Powitz, R. (August 2013). The Sanitation of Ice-Making Equipment. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/augustseptember-2013/the-sanitation-of-ice-making-equipment/

Carter, D. (2013, September 26). Harmful Germs Lurking in Your Kitchen Can Make You Sick. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/26/health-kitchen-germs/2880125/