How to Clean a Cooler: Wash, Sanitize, & Air Dry


Coolers are a common component of pool parties and any fishing trip. They are consequently subjected to a variety of filth, grime, and debris. They shouldn’t become that dirty, after all!

Your best cooler is likely to be moldy or smelly or both if you forget about or put off cleaning it because of the tough stains, dirty mold, and other liquids.

Knowing how to properly clean your cooler, and its interior and exterior, will ensure that you may use it for a very long time to come without any issues and worry.

Maintaining your high performance cooler in top condition so that you receive the maximum performance from it just requires a small amount of time to give it a nice deep clean.

Important Tools to Keep Your Coolers Clean!


Learning how to clean a cooler is simple, which is a nice thing. Of course, high performance coolers can use the info in this article. To start, you would need the following materials:

Baking Soda


Sponge effectiveness is increased with baking soda’s added scrubbing power without being overly abrasive. On a wet sponge with a non-abrasive surface, sprinkle it on.

Baking soda can also be used to eliminate odors from virtually anything. Simply sprinkle some on the troublesome spot and wait. The smell is just sucked out of the area.

Warm Water

Hot water can dissolve more material than cold water. This is why using hot water to remove difficult-to-wash stains like oil, grease, and grime is always a good idea.

Oil and grease solidify into highly bonded solids that adhere to surfaces rather than float on top of water. With warm water, these connections can be easily broken and washed away.

Cleaning Solution


Cleaning agents, often known as hard-surface cleansers, are things that are used to get rid of debris from surfaces, such as dust, stains, bad odors, and clutter.

All-purpose cleaners work well on the majority of common types of filth. They are safe to use on most surfaces because their diluted solutions are neutral or barely alkaline.


If you decide to disinfect your cooler and there are no available household disinfectants, you can use a bleach solution. Bleach can clean tough stains and more.

However, be careful when using bleach. If you forget and soak the dirty cooler for too long, you can damage the interior, even if you don’t scrub the cooler.



After food preparation, vinegar may clean and disinfect surfaces because it is a natural disinfectant. Mix a few drops of dish soap to water and vinegar to remove stubborn stains.

Clean the solution off with a dry cloth or a sponge. Avoid using abrasive pads to scrub the outside of the cooler as it may leave scratches.

How to Clean Your Cooler

For obvious health reasons, it’s crucial to have a clean cooler before you put anything in it. Putting food in an unclean cooler is the last thing you want to do.

It’s crucial to clean your cooler right away after usage to prevent stains from setting. If they do, cleaning them will be much more difficult.

It is also simpler to get rid of any bad odors if you clean it right away. Putting all the soap on a paper towel or inside a sanitizing spray, keep the cooler open and give it a good cleaning.

Make sure to cover the entire inside. With regular cleaning, your coolers will stay away from dirt and mold. Always give your coolers a good rinse with clean water.

How to Tackle Stubborn Stains


Coolers are loaded with food and ice, so with time, they will get scuffs and light stains. When following these simple steps, cleaning stains on coolers are simple to remove:

  • Rinse Out the Entire Inside: Before you clean the cooler, always begin by washing out the interior of your cooler with warm water. Any mold, and dirt will be removed by doing this.
  • Wipe Down with White Vinegar: Clean the interior of your cooler by dipping a towel in a solution made from a cup of white vinegar and a cup of water.
  • Rinse Again: Use your garden hose or kitchen sink to thoroughly rinse the cooler once more after the white vinegar has done its magic.
  • Use Lemon Juice: Apply lemon juice to a clean towel and rub the stains with it. If they persist, scrub with dish soap before attempting the towel dipped in lemon juice one more.
  • Rinse One More Time: Take your hose and give everything one last rinse. Your cooler should smell like a lemon.
  • Let It Sit in the Sun to Dry: A little vitamin D can do wonders to clean your cooler. Allow it to soak up the sun by setting it outside with the lid open.

Make sure the drain plug on your cooler is left open while you air dry it to remove excess water.

How to Get Rid of Mold


In the same way that mold isn’t welcome in your home or on your food, it shouldn’t be present in your ice cooler. Thankfully, by taking these extra steps, it’s easy to clean your cooler:

  • Rinse Out the Inside: First things first, rinse out any dirt or filth from your cooler. This will make it simpler to get rid of the mold.
  • Use Soap & Baking Soda: In a bucket, mix 1 cup of baking soda, 3 drops of dish soap, and warm water. The interior of the cooler should be cleaned with a sponge dipped in solution.
  • Rinse Again: Spray the cooler with a garden hose once more to remove of all the dirt inside.
  • Clean with Bleach: Mix bleach with a gallon of water inside a bucket. Sanitize the inside of the cooler with a cloth dipped in mixture. Give the solution roughly 10 minutes to sit.
  • Rinse One Last Time: Rinse the cooler once more with clean water from a garden hose. Repeat the procedure until the mold is gone, and then use a fresh towel to pat dry.

After cleaning, always leave the lid open and allow the cooler to air dry. As a result, there is a lower chance of mold and mildew growth.

How to Get Rid of Foul Odors


You had a fantastic time at last week’s fish fry, but it’s sadly making your cooler smell like a dead fish. With these easy steps, you can clean the cooler with bad odors:

  • Rinse Out the Inside: Nothing a thorough rinse can’t fix! Spray down the inside of your cooler first to begin cleaning it.
  • Scrub with Soap & Water: The inside of the cooler should be cleaned by dipping a sponge into a pail of water with dish soap. Make sure to rinse well.
  • Mix Baking Soda & Water: Sanitize the inside of the cooler with a solution of baking soda and water. Before rinsing, seal the lid and leave the solution in place for a day or two.
  • Rinse One More Time: Rinse out your cooler one more time to make sure everything is spotless. The scent should now be fully gone.
  • Let the Cooler Air Dry: Before setting the cooler outside with the lid open to dry completely, wipe it down with a fresh towel. Make sure your drain plug is open.

After deodorizing the cooler, you might also wipe it down with a piece of paper soaked in vanilla extract. Then, put the paper in the open cooler overnight.

How to Clean A Dirty Cooler


During your most recent camping trip, things got a little out of hand, and now your cooler is covered in mud. Prepare your hose and learn how to clean a cooler covered in dirt:

  • Rinse Out the Inside and Outside: It’s crucial to give your cooler a brief rinse before you start the deep clean.
  • Use Baking Soda: In a bucket, combine dish soap, baking soda, and water. Use a sponge to clean the dirt from the inside and the exterior. Then wash it down with a hose.
  • Dump Out the Water & Dry: To remove of the contaminated water, turn the cooler over outside or use the drain plug. After that, wipe the cooler with a clean washcloth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Got more questions about how to clean a cooler? Here are our most Frequently Asked Questions!

How Do You Get Fish Smell Out of a Cooler?

Rotting fish has the worst odor. After a few too many fishing trips, your cooler will start to smell like fish, and you won’t even want to put your beer in it.

After washing your cooler with soap and warm water, use a sanitizing spray that contains hypochlorite, the primary component of bleach, to remove any remaining odors.

Once finished, leave the cooler lid ajar for the night. The odor ought to disappear in the morning.

How Often Should a Cooler Be Cleaned?


Every 3 to 6 months, you should clean your portable cooler. However, if it’s horribly filthy or smelly, it would be worthwhile to clean it out before your upcoming pool party or barbeque.

When it comes to any container that comes into contact with food, like your cooler, deep cleanings are crucial. Make sure to always keep your cooler clean before storing it.



A filthy, odorous cooler is not cool. After all, mildew and bad scents are the two things that destroy someone’s appetite the most.

Knowing how to clean a cooler means no one will ever stop in the middle of pulling a drink out to inquire about the strange smell.

Your high performance cooler will last longer and keep things cool longer as long as you take good care of it. So take good care of your cooler to continue enjoying it for years to come.

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