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How to Clean Your Cooler

How to Clean Your Cooler

You’ve got all of your camping gear cleaned and ready to go for spring, but forgot that you left your precious cooler sitting in the garage all winter. It probably hasn’t had a proper clean in months - because cleaning up and unpacking are the least fun parts of outdoor adventures.

Keeping your cooler clean is not only important to improve the longevity of your cooler, but also keeps it sanitary! No one wants to reach in to grab a beer or a sandwich, only to realize there is mold growing. Yuck. Good news is it's extremely easy to keep it clean. These are our best spring cleaning tips for getting your cooler spic and span before camping season. 

Woman reaching into her Dometic CRX3
Mountain Biker reaching into Dometic patrol ice chest cooler

Here’s what you will need to clean your cooler - whether a hard ice chest, a soft storage with insulation, or a powered cooler.

  • A couple of microfiber cloths or gentle reusable sponges
  • A hose (you can also use the bathtub if you have a detachable shower head)
  • Eco-friendly dish soap
  • Baking Soda (optional - read on)
  • White Vinegar (optional - read on)
  • DO NOT use any abrasive cleaners or tools on your cooler, as it can lead to scratches on your cooler which will only further hang on to dirt and debris
Cleaning Steps:

Regardless if you have a lightly used cooler with a bit of dirt or sand and a food stain or two, or a heavily used cooler that housed freshly caught fish or game, your cooler needs a spring clean. Luckily, the level of filth doesn’t change much about HOW to clean your cooler. 

Follow the steps below and you will be ready for your next adventure in no time.

  1. Spray down the inside and outside of the cooler with water.
  2. Mix a bucket of warm water with a few drops of eco-friendly liquid dish soap. Add 1 cup of baking soda to the mix if there are any noticeable smells wafting out of the cooler.
  3. Using a microfiber cloth, wipe down the inside and outside of your cooler, scrubbing a little harder where there are any stains. If there are any stubborn stains, use a gentle dish brush or old toothbrush and a little elbow grease.
  4. *A Magic Eraser also works really well at removing tough stains from your cooler
  5. Thoroughly rinse inside and outside of the cooler a couple of times and make sure you have wiped out all remaining soap residue with a clean microfiber cloth.
  6. If you have intense or stubborn smells, coat the inside of the cooler with a paste of baking soda and a tiny bit of water and allow it to sit for a couple of hours, or up to a day.
  7. If you do notice mold, pour undiluted (no water) to a spray bottle and spray directly onto the mold. Allow it to sit for at least one hour to break up the mold and then scrub away with a gentle brush or sponge and wipe clean with a cloth.
  8. You can also use bleach diluted with warm water instead of vinegar if you prefer.
  9. Leave lid open to air dry your clean ice chest.

Now that your cooler is clean and like new, load it up and go get off-grid for a while! If you can remember to clean your cooler with soap and water before and after every use (we know, it’s a bit of a pain) you can save time.

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