Most cooler stains result from food labels and packaging getting soaked by melting ice. This can cause ink and dye to leach out and stain the inside of your cooler. The best way to clean a stained cooler is to use vinegar. Here’s how to do it: 

  • Rinse your cooler with a hose or sink hand sprayer. 
  • Mix a solution of one-part white vinegar to two parts water in the cooler. 
  • Use a rag to scrub the stained area.  
  • Empty the cooler and rinse inside and out.  
  • Leave the cooler open to air-dry outdoors.  

You may need to repeat this process a few times to remove the stain completely. You might also consider trying lemon juice instead of vinegar if the stain hasn’t improved. The acidity of the lemon may be more effective against certain types of colors.  

We do not recommend cleaning your cooler with bleach unless it’s absolutely necessary. Bleach can be dangerous to use in any setting that may expose it to food stored in your cooler if it’s not completely rinsed away.  

How to Get Rid of a Bad Smell In a Cooler 

If your cooler smells like fish, mildew, or rotten food, you’re not going to enjoy your picnic. The easiest way to remove a strong odor in your cooler is to put baking soda to work! Here’s how. 

  1. Rinse your cooler with a hose or sink hand sprayer. 
  2. Mix a solution of ¼ cup baking soda and one cup water. 
  3. Scrub the inside of the cooler with a rag or sponge using the baking soda solution.  
  1. Let your cooler sit with the solution inside for 1-3 days.  
  2. Rinse your cooler thoroughly and leave the cooler open to air-dry outdoors.  

It can be a good idea to clean your cooler if you’ve been storing any kind of meat or fish in it. This can prevent harmful bacteria from growing in your cooler and possibly contaminating foods the next time you use it.  

More Fun in The Sun with Help from Molly Maid  

Now that your cooler is clean pack it with all your favorite snacks and enjoy a day outside! Make more time for summer adventures by scheduling a one-time or recurring cleaning with Molly Maid. Our professional cleaning services can be personalized to develop a cleaning plan that works with your schedule and focuses on the areas of your home that need the most attention. Once you cross cleaning off your to-do list, you’ll have time to do what you enjoy. Contact your local Molly Maid – 615-794-0200 or 615-603-3766, today to discuss a cleaning plan that’s right for you.

Ashley Farrar


A portion of Molly Maid’s sales support victims of domestic violence in the communities we serve. To date, Ms. Molly has proudly raised more than $3 million – and we are not slowing down! This non-profit organization aims to increase public awareness of domestic violence and to provide victims with support. We believe everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes. The Ms. Molly Foundation strives to empower communities to end the cycle of violence in the home. It’s our goal to help give victims of domestic violence a second chance at happiness

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