Last Updated: August 19th, 2023

How To Clean A Cooler?

How To Clean A Cooler?

Summer is here, and it’s time to dust off that old cooler. But wait, it’s not as clean as you remember it. So, how do you clean a cooler? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process step by step.

Guide on How to Clean and care for Your Cooler Properly

So, you’ve had some great times with your trusty cooler, but now it’s looking a bit…well, not-so-fresh. No worries! Here’s a laid-back guide to get your cooler sparkling and smelling fresh again. Let’s dive in!

The Basics:

  • Empty it Out: First things first, get rid of all that melted ice and water. It’s like cleaning your room; you gotta see the floor to vacuum it.
  • Quick Wipe: Before stashing it away, give it a quick wipe down. This will save you from a bigger mess later on.

For the Everyday Grime:

  • Soap It Up: Grab some mild detergent and water. It’s like giving your cooler a mini spa day.
  • Tough Stains: If your cooler’s been through some wild adventures and got some stains to prove it, fear not! A mix of baking soda and water will do the trick. Just remember, it’s like skincare: gentle circular motions!

When Your Cooler Gets a Bit…Stinky:

  • Bleach to the Rescue: If your cooler’s smelling a bit funky, slap on some gloves and wipe it down with a bit of bleach. Then, rinse it out well with water.
  • Vanilla Magic: If Mr. Stink is still hanging around, a wipe-down with vanilla extract followed by a water rinse should send him packing.

Soft-Sided Cooler Bags:

  • Spot Cleaning: Sometimes, all you need is a little touch-up. Use some mild detergent and water to wipe away any spots or spills.
  • Discoloration Worries: If you’re worried about discoloration, do a little patch test in a hidden spot first.

A Few Don’ts:

  • No Machines: Whatever you do, don’t throw your cooler in the dishwasher or washing machine. It’s a big no-no and can totally ruin your cooler. It’s like putting your favorite sneakers in the washing machine; not a good idea!

Storing Like a Pro:

  • Let It Breathe: After cleaning, open up that drain plug. It’ll let any sneaky trapped moisture escape and keep things fresh.
  • Remember the Good Times: While you can erase the stains, you can’t erase the memories. So, every time you clean, take a moment to remember the fun times you’ve had with your cooler.

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean a Cooler

Before we jump into how to clean a dirty cooler, let’s gather the necessary cleaning materials. You will need a mild detergent, a sponge or scrub brush, warm water, a towel for drying, and optional items like baking soda or vinegar for deep cleaning.

Preparing for Cleaning

Before you begin cleaning, gather the necessary supplies. You will need a damp cloth or sponge, mild detergent, warm water, vinegar, a soft brush, and, if desired, moisture-absorbing products like silica gel packs. Empty the cooler, removing any food, drinks, or ice.

Exterior Cleaning

Start by wiping down the exterior surfaces of the cooler using a damp cloth or sponge. This will remove any dirt, dust, or stains. If there are stubborn stains, use a mild detergent diluted in water. Gently scrub the stains, then rinse and dry the exterior surfaces thoroughly.

Interior Cleaning

To clean the interior of the cooler, remove any removable parts, such as shelves or dividers. Wash these parts separately using warm, soapy water. For the interior surfaces, create a mixture of water and mild detergent. Wipe down the interior, paying extra attention to any stains or spills.

If needed, use a soft brush to scrub away stubborn dirt. Rinse the interior surfaces thoroughly and allow them to dry completely.

Odor Removal

If your cooler has developed an unpleasant odor, there is a simple solution. Create a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar.

Wipe down the interior surfaces of the cooler with this solution, ensuring it cover all areas. Allow the vinegar solution to sit for a few minutes, then rinse the interior thoroughly with water. Let the cooler air dry completely before use.

Mold and Mildew Prevention

To prevent the growth of mold and mildew, it’s crucial to keep your cooler dry. After cleaning, ensure that all surfaces are thoroughly dry before closing the cooler.

Store it in a well-ventilated area, avoiding damp or humid environments. Consider using moisture-absorbing products like silica gel packs to help control moisture levels. Regularly inspect your cooler for any signs of mold or mildew. If you notice any, repeat the cleaning process using the steps mentioned earlier.

Maintenance Tips

To keep your cooler in good condition, there are some maintenance tips to follow. After each use, wipe down the cooler with a damp cloth to remove any residue. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or brushes that could damage the surface of the cooler.

When not in use, store it in a clean and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Additionally, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific cleaning recommendations they may have.

Why Cleaning A Cooler Is Important?

A cooler, also known as an ice chest or cooler, is a portable container used to keep food and beverages cool during outdoor activities, picnics, or camping trips. To ensure its optimal performance and maintain hygiene, cleaning your cooler regularly is essential.


Firstly, let’s understand why it’s crucial to clean your cooler. Imagine opening your cooler on a hot summer day only to be greeted by an unpleasant smell. Not the best scenario, right? Regular cleaning ensures that your cooler remains free from harmful bacteria and smells fresh.


Did you know that a dirty cooler can affect its performance? Yes, you heard it right! Grime and residual food particles can reduce the cooling efficiency of your box. So, if you’re wondering how to improve the performance of your cooler, start by giving it a good clean.


How should I clean my cooler after use?

For basic cleaning, remove all melted water and ice from the cooler, then wipe it down. For a more thorough cleaning, use a mild detergent and water.

What can I use to remove tougher stains from my cooler?

For tougher stains, use a diluted solution of baking soda and water. Wipe down the stained area, and it should help in removing the stain.

How should I store my cooler after cleaning?

After rinsing and drying your cooler, open the drain plug before storing it. This allows any trapped moisture to escape, preventing mold and mildew.

How can I get rid of unpleasant smells from my cooler?

If your cooler has an unpleasant odor, first wipe it down with some bleach and rinse it well with water. If the smell persists, wipe it down again using vanilla extract and then rinse with more water.

Can I use bleach to clean my cooler?

It’s best to avoid using bleach or any harsh chemicals, as they can damage the cooler’s material and leave a residue.

How often should I clean my cooler?

Ideally, you should clean your cooler after each use. This helps maintain its cleanliness and performance.

How can I remove stubborn stains from my cooler?

For stubborn stains, consider using a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it to the stain, let it sit for a few hours, then scrub it off.

Can I put my cooler in the dishwasher or washing machine for cleaning?

No, you should not put any cooler in the dishwasher or washing machine as it can damage the cooler.

How can I prevent my cooler from smelling bad?

Regular cleaning and proper storage can help prevent bad odors. Also, consider using baking soda or a few drops of vanilla extract to keep it smelling fresh.


And there you have it! With these simple steps, your cooler will be ready for many more adventures. Whether it’s a beach day, a picnic, or just chilling in the backyard, your cooler’s got your back. Stay cool!

Cleaning a cooler is essential to ensure its functionality and maintain hygiene standards. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can effectively clean your cooler and keep it in optimal condition for your next outdoor adventure or gathering.

Regular cleaning and proper maintenance will extend the lifespan of your cooler and ensure that it keeps your food and drinks cool.