20 quart two-in-one cooler/beverage dispenser in orange

The Ultimate Guide on How to Clean a Cooler

The humble cooler—the unsung hero of picnics, beach days, and tailgates. It keeps drinks frosty and sandwiches safe from dreaded sogginess. But when the party's over and the last soda has been savored, you're often left with a not-so-pleasant reminder of the fun times: a dirty, perhaps even moldy, cooler. We know the hassle of having a dirty cooler and that’s why we’re here to help. 

How to clean a cooler so that it stays fresh for your next adventure:

  1. Empty everything from the cooler
  2. Rinse with warm water
  3. Use a cleaning solution
  4. Scrub It down
  5. Rinse and repeat as needed
  6. Allow it to air dry
Person wearing yellow gloves cleaning

#1 Empty Everything From the Cooler

Emptying your cooler might seem like a "duh" moment, but you'd be surprised how many ecosystems start from a forgotten sandwich. Once it’s completely empty, open the drain plug. If you're the proud owner of a Cubix cooler, you'll appreciate the easy drainage system that makes this step a breeze.

#2: Rinse With Warm Water

It’s time to give your cooler the spa time it deserves. Rinse your cooler with warm water and wipe down the interior and exterior with a sponge.  The warmth helps to loosen any residue that decided to make your cooler its new home.

#3 Use a Cleaning Solution

Now, let's talk about cleaning solutions. You’ll want something tough on grime but gentle on the cooler's surface. A simple mix of dish soap and warm water is a trustworthy go-to.

Baking soda is your best friend for those hard-to-tackle areas or if you're facing the dreaded mold growth. Sprinkle it generously and let it sit for a bit; its mild abrasive nature won't damage the cooler but will show the door to any unwelcome guests.

Baking soda in a small jar with a wooden spoon

#4 Scrub It Down

With your cleaning solution ready for action, it's time to scrub. Use a sponge or a soft brush to avoid scratching the interior. Pay special attention to corners and crevices where mold loves to hide. Remember, it's not just about strength; it's about perseverance. Show that grime who's boss! If you’re sporting a rotomolded cooler like Cubix though, you can enjoy peace of mind of knowing that it's durable and designed for everyday wear and tear. 

#5 Rinse and Repeat As Needed

Drain the soapy water and rinse thoroughly with clean water. If your cooler was particularly grimy or had mold issues, don't be shy about repeating the cleaning process. Better safe and clean than sorry!

After the rinse and repeat, you should apply a solution that is 1 part bleach, 10 parts water to disinfect the cooler. Cover the interior with the solution, and give it around five minutes to work its magic; then rinse it with warm water.

#6 Allow it to Air Dry

The final step in cleaning your cooler is often the most overlooked—letting it dry completely. A moist environment is like a welcome mat for mold growth. Leave the lid open and let it air dry, ideally in a sunny spot for extra disinfecting power. Patience is key here; give it time to dry thoroughly. If you’re skeptical, use a dry towel to wick away any moisture that could be left behind (especially in corners, cracks, and crevices).


Still have questions? Here are some common queries debunked:

    • What’s the best cleaning solution for coolers? Mild dish soap mixed with warm water is always best. For tough stains and odors, use baking soda.
    • How do you disinfect a cooler? Use a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Spray or wipe the interior with the solution, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly and allow it to air dry.
    • Can you clean a moldy cooler? Yes, you can. Sprinkle baking soda on moldy areas, add warm water, and scrub gently. For deeper mold, use a bleach-water solution to disinfect it.
    • How do you prevent your cooler from smelling? Always air dry the cooler completely before storing. As an added step, you can wipe it down with vinegar after cleaning to neutralize odors and store it inside a box of baking soda to absorb any residual smells.
    • How often should you clean your cooler? After every use, give it a general wipe-down; deep clean every 2 to 6 months, or more frequently if used heavily or it’s been stored for long periods.
    • Can I use vinegar to clean my cooler? Yes, vinegar is an excellent natural cleaner for coolers. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar to clean and deodorize it.

Cleaning supplies like baking soda, yellow gloves, and vinegar

Final Thoughts on How to Clean a Cooler

Now that you have a cooler as clean and fresh as the day it was bought, you’ll be ready to rock ‘n roll for your next outing. 

If you're in the market for a new cooler, consider the innovative design of Cubix coolers. With their easy drainage system and durable design, clean-up is a breeze, leaving you more time to enjoy the fun parts of outdoor living. So, here's to clean coolers and even cooler adventures ahead!