How to clean cooler box

How To Clean Your Cooler Box After An Outdoor Trip

clean out a stinky cooler

Whether you use your cooler to majorly chill drinks on your patio, or simply for a picnic to the park,  or to pack some food for the hordes after baseball practice, your cooler can get really irked after being used for a long period of time and this is why it is very important to wash it.

Since your cooler box is one that you use often on the go (or whilst you have fun), it is easy to forget to empty it after a trip or event, and this could lead to a pike up of mildew and bacteria. This is why it is very important to know the best way to clean your cooler box after a trip.

Items you need to clean your cooler box:

  • A cooler cleaner
  • Water (warm water is preferred)
  • Dish washing liquid or mild detergent
  • Microfiber Cloth or paper towel
  • Baking soda

How do I clean out a stinky cooler?

It is very easy to forget to clean out your cooler box after a camping trip, or even a party. Even though it isn’t a big deal to forget to empty or some melted ice and bottles from the cooler, however, leaving food for extended periods in the cooler box can result in smells.

If you are looking for how to get the smell out of cooler, below are some detailed steps by which you can clean out smells from rotten food from your cooler box. You can use these types to remove any unwanted smell from your cooler box.

Steps to cleaning your cooler box

1. Prepare your cooler cleaner

Soak your cooler cleaner in warm water and then, add a little amount of mild detergent or cooler cleaner liquid to it.

2. Begin wiping

Use the cooler cleaner to wipe the interior part of the cooler box, and make sure to reach into the corners and also around the drain hole. These are areas where grime and mildew usually accumulates, so make sure to concentrate on those areas so clean the cooler box properly.

3. Use scrubbing powder

For the really tough stains, you can make a scrubbing powder paste with baking soda and water. Dip your cooler cleaner in the scrubbing powder paste and scrub it on the tough stain spot. Make sure not to use abrasive detergents, not abrasive cleaning tools to avoid scratching or damaging the interior parts of the cooler box’s liner.

4. Clean the outer part

Soak your cooler cleaner in warm water and then, add a little amount of mild detergent or cooler cleaner liquid to it. Then, use the cooler cleaner to wipe the exterior part of the cooler box, and make sure to concentrate on the areas around the rim so as to clean the cooler box properly.

5. Clean the interior part once again

Get a clean cooler cleaner, or simply rinse the one you’ve been using with very clean water. Then, clean the inside of the cooler box to remove any soap remainder. Afterward, clean the exterior once again.

6. Air-dry the cooler box

Open the cooler box and leave it to air-dry. However, if you want to store the cooler box right away, you can clean the cooler box with paper towels or a microfiber cloth to remove the excess moisture. Ensure that the colder box is totally dry before storing it.

7. Take proper care of the cooler box every time you use it

To prevent stains and mildew from piling up in the cooler box, make sure to empty the cooler immediately after each use,  then clean the interior part and leave it to dry before storing it.

How to get the smell out of the cooler?

1. Leave the cooler box to air-dry dry for a while

Add soon as you discover that your cooler box still has some left over items forgotten in it, the first thing you should do is empty the cooler box, and then leave it open to air-dry. Make sure to place the cooler in an open area that adequate air circulation. Adequate air circulation can do a lot of wonders in helping to get rid of smell in your cooler box.

2. Make a bleach mixture and apply.

After allowing your cooler box to air-dry, you should apply some bleach mixture to it. The bleach will kill off any other odor-causing bacteria left on the walls of the cooler. This way, it’d prevent the odor from becoming worse.

To make the bleach mixture, you can mix bleach with water in the ratio of 1:4. Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray the walls of the cooler box generously, alongside the inside lid of the cooler box. Allow the bleach mixture to sit for 8 hours, then spray again. Continue this process for about 2-3 days and make sure to keep the lid open during the entire process.

3. Scrub the areas that are hard to reach

Make sure to pay attention to the hard to reach areas as they are the places where odour-causing bacteria usually accumulates. These areas include the grooves for the cooler dividers and ice packs, the areas between the lid and the body of the cooler, and the hole for the lid handle.

If not well taken care of, these areas can become a breeding ground for bacteria and you could miss them whilst cleaning except you concentrate on the areas. To wash these areas adequately, you can make use of an old toothbrush. Simply dip the toothbrush (or cleaning tool) in the bleach mixture and scrub the hard to reach areas.

4. Wash with baking soda.

In order to get rid of smell in your cooler box, mix one tablespoons of your dishwashing liquid with a quarter to half cup of soda (baking soda).  Pour the mixture into the cooler box, alongside a generous amount of water.

Then, scrub the cooler box with a dishwashing scrubbing pad. After scrubbing thoroughly, rinse the cooler and then spray it with a sanitizing spray. Leave the kids open afterwards and leave the spray to dry in the cooler box. You can then store up your cooler box after it dries completely.


Even though there are so many methods you can use to clean out smells from your cooler box, the best practice is to prevent your cooler box from accumulating germs that could lead to smells. Make sure to always remove items from your cooler box immediately after use; more especially when you’re cooler had been left outside during hot climate.

You can also steal items in containers before placing them in the cooler box. Ziplock bags also work perfectly, if carrying bottles seem like a lot of work to do. Wrap up items such as cheese and meats in Ziplock bags before putting them in the cooler box as these items usually melt faster.

The Ziplock bags will provide additional protection to the food item, protecting them from open air. With all of these tips, you can be ready assured that your cooler box will last a very long time.

For those thinking, “how do I clean out a stinky cooler? “, we hope that you have learned a lot from this article, however, if you have any other tips that you think should be on this list, kindly let us know.

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