• Hand wash
  • Use the washing machine
  • Use the dishwasher

Your food is going to be so much safer to eat, and all it takes is just a little bit of effort on your end!

What You’ll Need:

  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Dry washcloth

Here’s how to clean an insulated lunch bag:

  1. Step One: Fill up your sink with lukewarm water.
  2. Step Two: Add a teaspoon of dish soap to the water and mix it around.
  3. Step Three: Dip a sponge into the water and start scrubbing the inside and outside of the lunch bag.
  4. Step Four: Mix a quarter teaspoon of baking soda with water and put it inside of the lunch bag. Let it soak for 20 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
  5. Step Five: Use a toothbrush to scrub hard-to-reach areas like zippers, pockets, and seams.
  6. Step Six: Rinse the lunch bag down with warm water. Make sure to get both the inside and the outside.
  7. Step Seven: Pat the lunch bag dry using a clean washcloth or towel.
  8. Step Eight: Clean the entire bag from the inside and outside with antibacterial wipes.
  9. Step Nine: Place the lunch bag upside down on a drying rack and let it air dry. If possible, turn the insulation inside out so that can dry as well.
  1. Step 1
    Step 1

    Fill Sink with Warm Water

    Head to the kitchen and fill up your sink with lukewarm water. If you need more space, you can also use the bathtub.

  2. Step 2
    Step 2

    Add a Teaspoon of Dish Soap

    Make sure the sink is plugged and then add in about a teaspoon of dish soap. Mix it around in the water so you’ve got a nice soapy basin.

  3. Step 3
    Step 3

    Wipe it Down

    Dip the sponge in the soapy sink and use it to clean both the outside and the inside of the lunch bag, making sure to get the corners.

  4. Step 4
    Step 4

    Cover with Baking Soda (Optional)

    Do you have a stubborn stain on your lunch bag? Mix a quarter teaspoon of baking soda with water and put it on the stain. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then wipe it away. If the stain persists, try again and let the baking soda paste sit for longer.

  5. Step 5
    Step 5

    Use the Toothbrush

    Put some soap on the toothbrush and scrub the zippered areas, pockets, seams, and any other hard-to-reach area.

  6. Step 6
    Step 6

    Rinse

    Use the spray hose on your sink to rinse off all the soap from inside and outside of the lunch bag. If you don’t have a spray hose, you can also carefully pour clean water over the bag.

  7. Step 7
    Step 7

    Pat Dry with Cloth

    Gently use your washcloth to pat the lunch bag dry. Make sure you get both the inside and outside.

  8. Step 8
    Step 8

    Clean with Antibacterial Wipes

    You’re almost done! Get rid of any remaining germs by wiping down the entire lunch bag with antibacterial wipes.

  9. Step 9
    Step 9

    Air Dry

    Place your lunch bag upside down on the drying rack and let it air dry. You can also hang it up with pins on a clothesline. If possible, turn the insulation inside out so that can dry as well.

Here are a few other tips:

  • Use a Q-tip to clean hard to reach areas and corners.
  • Don’t submerge your lunch box in a soapy sink. Dip the sponge in and gently wipe everything down instead.
  • After washing, sanitize your lunch box with antibacterial wipes.
  • Be sure everything’s completely dry before storing any food inside.

As was the case when cleaning the insulated bag, this process won’t take you more than 20 minutes. Get to scrubbing!

Can You Wash a Lunch Box in the Washing Machine?

Metal lunch boxes, like the ones used in the 1950s, should not go in the washing machine. You could damage not only the lunch box, but also your washing machine.

Keep in mind – machine washing only works on some insulated lunch bags, but not all. If yours has a heavy zipper or mesh pockets, it’s better to just wash it by hand instead.

No matter what, never put your lunch bag in the dryer. Hang it up on clothespins and let it air dry instead.

*Disclaimer: Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any damage caused by washing your lunch bag or box. If you’re at all unsure, it’s better to wash it by hand. Check the care tag or contact the manufacturer directly with any questions.

Pro Tip

Wash your lunch bag with a load of towels in the washing machine. It’s the easiest way to ensure you’re cleaning it regularly.

*Disclaimer: Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any damage caused by washing your lunch bag or box. If you’re at all unsure, it’s better to wash it by hand. Check the care tag or contact the manufacturer directly with any questions.

Use sealed Tupperware

Use sealed Tupperware

Invest in good leak-free Tupperware for your food. You’ll not only reduce spillage, but also save money since you don’t have to repeatedly buy plastic bags and aluminum foil.

Be careful with sauces and dressings

Be careful with sauces and dressings

It’s best not to shove entire bottles of ketchup or ranch dressing into your lunch bag. Put the portion you need inside of a container instead.

Store your lunch bag in a clean fridge

Store your lunch bag in a clean fridge

A break room refrigerator can get gunky pretty fast. Set a paper towel down and then store your lunch bag on top of the towel. Don’t forget to also label your lunch!

Keep your lunch bag off the ground

Keep your lunch bag off the ground

The ground has been stepped on all day and is full of dirt. Please do yourself a favor and keep anything containing your lunch off the floor.

Rinse out your containers

Rinse out your containers

Before you put your Tupperware back in your lunch bag, give it a quick rinse in the sink. You’ll have less crumbs and food particles in your bag as a result.

Empty lunch bags as soon as you get home

Empty lunch bags as soon as you get home

Head to the kitchen right after you walk through the door, and if you have kids, make sure they do the same. The last thing you want is to unexpectedly find a half-eaten apple at the bottom of their school lunch.

Put your lunch bag away

Put your lunch bag away

Keep your lunch bag or box in a designated space in your kitchen. Hang it on a hook, store it inside of a cabinet, or set it on top of the refrigerator.

Clean your lunch bag regularly

Clean your lunch bag regularly

You should try to clean your lunch bag or box at least once a week. This is especially true if you’ve been eating fish or garlic pasta at lunch for the last few days!


The Bottom Line

Food and harmful bacteria should never be found in the same place. You’re using a lunch bag or box every day, so it’s about time to grab a sponge and give it a good cleaning. It will make your lunch that much tastier!

References

Chandler, V. (2016, June 10). Your Child’s Lunchbox Could be a Lot Dirtier Than You Think. Retrieved from,
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/health/health-advice/a564127/lunchbox-hygiene-how-to-clean/

The Doctors. (2017, February 28). Is Your Child’s Lunchbox Filled with Bacteria? Retrieved from,
https://www.thedoctorstv.com/articles/3851-is-your-child-s-lunchbox-filled-with-bacteria

Ponnuru, R. (2013, February 7). Your Lunch Bag is a Bacteria Magnet. Retrieved from,
https://www.startribune.com/your-lunch-bag-is-a-bacteria-magnet/190126481/

The Organized Housewife. (2017, April 11). How to Clean Insulated Lunch Bags & Remove Odor. Retrieved from,
https://theorganisedhousewife.com.au/cleaning/clean-insulated-lunch-bags-remove-odour/

Maker, M. How to Clean a Backpack & Lunch Bag! Retrieved from,
https://cleanmyspace.com/how-to-clean-your-backpack-and-lunchbag-back-to-school-cleaning-tips-part-1/

Klahre, A. (2019, May 1). 5 Easy Steps to Keep Your Lunch Box Clean Throughout the Week. Retrieved from,
https://www.thekitchn.com/5-easy-steps-to-keep-your-lunch-box-clean-throughout-the-week-247061

Maids by Trade. (2016, June 22). How to Clean a Lunch Box. Retrieved from,
https://maidsbytrade.com/clean-lunch-box/

Noonan, J. 11 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Clean in Your Washing Machine. Retrieved from,
https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/11-things-you-didn-t-know-you-can-clean-in-your-washing-machine-49045#how-to-clean-shower-curtain

Black, K. How to Clean a Metal Lunchbox. Retrieved from,
https://homesteady.com/12607002/how-to-clean-a-metal-lunchbox

Mold Blogger. (2018, December 30). Mold and Lunchboxes: Everything You Need to Know. Retrieved from,
https://moldblogger.com/mold-and-lunchboxes-everything-you-need-to-know/

Noel, S. (2011, March 23). Let Your Dishwasher Do More Than Dishes. Retrieved from,
https://www.frugalvillage.com/threads/let-your-dishwasher-do-more-than-dishes.248532/

Speed Queen. Clean Kids’ Lunch Bags and Backpacks Like a Pro. Retrieved from,
https://speedqueen.com/how-to-clean-kids-lunch-bags-and-backpacks-like-a-pro/

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