Cool tips for cleaning a food cooler

Ideally, you should clean your cooler after each use. The method for cleaning depends a lot on what you've had in it. If it's only been storing soft drinks, just rinse it with water.

Cool tips for cleaning a food cooler

1. To thoroughly clean a large, rigid cooler

  • Haul it into the backyard and give it a hose down.
  • Pour a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid onto the wet cooler and scrub it, using a clean rag, sponge or a nylon dishwashing brush.
  • Then turn the cooler on its side, so water will drain out, and rinse with a garden hose. (You can do this just as easily in the bathtub, where the hot water would help with tougher cleaning jobs. Wash very small food coolers in the kitchen sink.)

2. To sanitize a cooler

  • If you've been carrying raw meat in it, for example, mix 5 ml (1 tsp) of bleach in 1 litre (1 quart) of water.
  • Apply the solution to the cooler with a sponge or rag, or pour it into a spray bottle, squirt it on and wipe.
  • Then rinse with fresh water.
  • Once your cooler is clean, leave it to air dry with the lid open before you store it.
  • To keep it smelling fresh for next time, wipe it down with a damp sponge that's been sprinkled with vanilla essence, or place a small open container of baking soda inside, before replacing the lid.

3. To remove stubborn food stains

  • Make a paste by mixing baking soda and water in a bowl.
  • Dip a clean rag or sponge into the paste, rub the spot and then rinse.
  • If that doesn't work, apply a nonabrasive household cleaner, such as an all-purpose cleaner, with a rag. Using an abrasive cleaner could scratch the interior of your cooler, giving dirt and bacteria a place to hide — and making your cleaning job harder.

4. To clean a soft-structure cooler

  • Mix mild dishwashing liquid in water and wipe the cooler down inside and out with a clean rag or sponge.
  • Rinse (with a little vanilla in the water, if you like) and air dry.
  • Don't machine wash, and don't use bleach on this type of cooler.
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