How to clean a stinky cooler?

Tikva Morrow
by Tikva Morrow

Hello everyone, I hope you're all doing well. I wanted to ask for some advice on how to clean a stinky cooler. I opened one of mine the other day and was hit with an unpleasant odor. I'm hoping to get some tips and tricks on how to effectively clean and deodorize the cooler. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help!

how to clean a stinky cooler

How to clean a stinky cooler

  14 answers
  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Apr 30, 2023

    I have used a method for over 40 yrs that works every time...take a paper towel and roll into a ball pour 1-2 drops of vanilla extract onto the paper towel, put into the cooler bag or cooler, whatever and close up for several hours. Wipe it down and the vanilla smell will be gone within a short time and so will the odors - leave it upright so it doesn't stain your item you place it in I have even used this in the refrigerator

  • Janice Janice on Apr 30, 2023

    Clean all the inner surfaces with a mixture of baking soda and ater and then when closed up again use the vannilla suggestion Cheryl recommended. That sounds lovely!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 30, 2023

    You could try spraying Febreez into the bag for fabric smells or maybe fill with hot soapy washing up water and give it a thorough clean, then empty and dry thoroughly before closing!

  • Wash it with hot, soapy water and let it dry in the sun.

  • Dee Dee on Apr 30, 2023

    I always used lemon juice, closed it up and let sit in the sun. Then wiped down with lemon juice. You can also use charcoal when not in use and newspapers to keep it smelling good.

  • My go to is always a 50/50 warm water mixture with vinegar. It cleans and deodorizes. I would also leave it out in the sun. That helps as well. Good luck!

  • Tikva Morrow Tikva Morrow on May 01, 2023

    Thanks for the help, I'll try these cleaning tips and hopefully get my cooler smelling fresh again

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 01, 2023

    A paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to scrub then wipe down with a damp microfiber cloth. Afterwards, let it air to make sure it is completely dry.

    If that doesn't get it, OdoBan fragrance free.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on May 01, 2023

    Fresh air and sunshine will help. Then a scrub down with baking soda and water. Let it dry. To store it after cleaning, wad up some newspaper or get some desiccants.

  • Mogie Mogie on May 01, 2023

    I would wash it out using water and Dawn. Let it dry naturally and repeat if needed. Or clean it with a mix of dish soap, baking soda, and warm water. Use the hose to wash out all the soap from inside the cooler. Mix warm water and bleach; clean the moldy spots and let sit for 10 minutes and rinse well. If the smell doesn't go away repeat and let it sit for about 20 minutes before rinsing. Just don't let the water/dawn mix dry out.

  • I usually clean these with warm water and dish soap, then leave the top open for it to dry completely and air out. You could do a wipe-down with some vinegar too.

  • Deb K Deb K on May 04, 2023

    Hello Tivka, hope this helps you out. Just get a paper towel wet with the vinegar, leave it in the closed lunch box overnight, and rinse. For the worst smells, add diluted white vinegar directly to the inside of the lunch box, leave it for a few hours or overnight, then rinse and dry.

  • Annie Annie on May 25, 2023

    Rubbing it with some vinegar and leaving it to dry in a well-ventilated place should help!

  • Dish soap, baking soda, and warm water are used to clean. Wash out all of the soap from the cooler using the hose. Clean the moldy areas with a warm water and bleach solution, then let it sit for 10 minutes. Use the hose to thoroughly rinse the cooler once more.