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Deodorizing a Cooler or Ice Chest

If you have a portable cooler that has the odor of rotten meat, you can open it and clean it. Leave open to the sun for at least a couple of days with the opening facing as much of the sun as possible. This will get rid of most or all of the odor.


By B J Bartlett from Central Florida

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April 16, 20090 found this helpful

Cleaning with baking soda before the sunlight treatment helps too.

Another thing that helps keep a cooler fresh is to store it open to allow air flow. If the top comes completely off, store the top in (not on) the cooler. If the top is hinged, wedge it open just a crack, with something the thickness of a pencil or skewer for example.

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June 26, 20100 found this helpful

To clean a cooler, inside and out, Cascade, or any automatic dishwashing powder, works really well, and sanitizes while cleaning. It gets the dirt out of the grooves on the outside, too. I don't know why it works better than a cleanser, but it does. It's also food safe, since it is for dishwashing, right?


For storage of a cooler with a plug, leaving the plug open is all you need; keeping in mind closing it when you use it! If there isn't a plug, I use a paper towel, folded a few times, to wedge the lid open, placing it near a hinge. If the cooler is musty smelling from storage areas, a quick swipe with some vinegar and baking soda will do the trick.

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June 26, 20100 found this helpful

"Funky" smell means bacteria. If you are going to use this for food again, you need to disinfect it, not just clean it. I put the coolers outside, dump a cup or so of bleach into them, add some hot soapy water. I use new toilet brushes for scrubbing things like this. At a buck a piece, it is worth it. Then rinse it well. Let sun dry. When putting away, put a 1/2 cup baking soda sprinkled in it. All coolers, drinking, food, etc should be stored with the soda. Toss a paper towel or napkin in to absorb any moisture.


You don't get any smells when putting it away clean this way. Remember that coolers with spigots to clean them well. With the bleach solution/rinse hold the button down. Ever check to see the mold up in there? Gross. A spring is in there and holds particles well.

RE: the meat smell, if you do not dissipate it completely, you will have organisms that will not go away and continue to contaminate anything you put in it. Better to keep the cooler for non food use. (Fish cooler on the boat when fishing is what my guys said!)

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