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Keeping your Cooler Clean and Cold this Summer

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Summer is upon us so it is more important than ever to pay attention to keeping your cooler clean and cold.

Cool boxes or coolers keep food and drinks ice-cold on even the hottest summer days and get used a ton in the summer. But they also can get really stained and stinky.

Outdoor People

Here in Durban, most homes have at least one cooler, especially if the residents are outdoor people. There is no way one can go to the beach or on an outing or picnic without a cooler in summer. And most of us take a cooler along anyway even when we are just visiting friends or having a braai. In these tough economic times, it is almost always “Bring and Share”.

So, you want to be able to keep the content fresh and cool and one thing you definitely don’t want, is contaminated food.

Whether you use your cooler to majorly chill drinks on your patio, or for a picnic to the park, or to pack some food for the hordes at the beach, your cooler can get really nasty after being used for a long period of time and this is why it is very important to wash it.

Smelly Coolers

Even though there are so many ways you can use to clean out smells from your cooler box, the best practice is to prevent your cooler box from accumulating germs that could lead to smells. So, make sure to always remove stuff from your cooler box immediately after use; more especially when your cooler had been outside all day in the heat.

And because you’re usually using it on the go (or while you’re just busy doing fun things!), it’s easy to put off cleaning up spills or to forget to empty it until the day after — but doing that can leave dirt, bacteria, mildew, and more on the inside (and outside) of the cooler.

How do I Clean my Cooler? (Don’t forget the lid)

If you haven’t used your cooler for a while, you need to pay attention to get rid of that moldy look and smell. Because they spend time in cupboards or packed away in the garage, they often get mold growth and foul odors. The good news is these are extremely easy to remove with the right ingredients and a little bit of effort.

Just set up a spot outside, grab your hose, and get ready to clean.

Mold isn’t welcome on your food or in your house, so it also shouldn’t be found in your cooler. Luckily, it’s easy to get rid of this pesky fungus with these easy steps:

  •     Rinse out the inside of your cooler using a hose.
  •     Clean 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.
  •    Rinse the cooler out one more time with the hose. Repeat the process if necessary.

Soap & Baking Soda Cleaner

Mix 3 drops of dish soap, 1 cup of baking soda, and about 4 litres of warm water in a bucket. Dip a sponge in the mixture and wipe down the inside of the cooler.

Bleach and Warm Water

Mix another 4 litres of water and a cup of bleach. Saturate a cloth with the mixture and use it to clean the inside of the cooler. Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes.

Another good cleaning tip is to use white vinegar and then lemon juice to clean out the cooler. This should remove even water spots and stains. This cleaning method works similar to the one above.

Clean it When you get Home

When you’ve used the cooler, rinse it out and leave it to dry with the lid open as soon as you get home. Yes, it is a drag. At the end of a long hot day in the sun, the last thing you want to do when you get home is wash the cooler. But it is worth the effort.

Since your cooler box is one that you use often on the go (or whilst you have fun), it is easy to forget to empty it after a trip or event, and this could lead to a pike up of mildew and bacteria.

Even though it isn’t a big deal to forget to empty some melted ice and bottles from the cooler, however, leaving food for extended periods in the cooler box can result in smells.

Pro Tips for Cooler Box Cleaning

Always let your cooler air dry with the lid open after cleaning. This reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth.

Make sure to pay attention to the hard-to-reach areas as they are the places where odor-causing bacteria usually accumulates. These areas include the grooves for the cooler dividers and ice packs, the areas between the lid and the body of the cooler, and the hole for the lid handle.

If not well taken care of, these areas can become a breeding ground for bacteria and you could miss them whilst cleaning except you concentrate on the areas. To wash these areas adequately, you can make use of an old toothbrush. Simply dip the toothbrush (or cleaning tool) in the bleach mixture and scrub the hard-to-reach areas.

How do I keep my Cooler Cold for Longer?

Well one tip is to start with a cold cooler, so chill the interior with ice. Either buy big bags of ice at the garage for freeze some old 2 l cold drink bottles and place those in your cooler to pre chill overnight.

Do whatever you can to lower the interior temperature prior to filling with contents. Be resourceful and get creative with what’s available.

If you can place pre-chilled beverages or cold foods in your cooler; that’s the best-case scenario. If you start with cold contents, the ice and cooler won’t have to work as hard to keep contents chilled, therefore retaining ice longer.

Leave as little airspace as possible. Layer ice on top of the contents to fill the cooler to full capacity. If you have more ice than other contents; surround the contents on the bottom, sides, and top with ice or icepacks to provide an extra layer of insulation

Keep the cooler lid sealed. Fight the desire to inspect the contents. Every time the seal is broken, and warmer air is introduced to the cooler contents, the ice has to expend more energy to chill the contents again

Some Cool Hacks to keep your Cooler Cold

The most important way to keep your cooler cold is to keep the heat out. A great way to do so is by lining the inside of your cooler with aluminum foil that helps reflect heat and light that will quickly melt your ice.

Use a light-colored wet towel to wrap the cooler and keep it under the shade. As wind passes over the towel, the water will begin to evaporate. As the water turns to vapor, it will make the towel colder. This will help keep the cooler’s temperature down and making your ice last even longer.

Despite what you may think, keeping the water in the cooler is actually counterintuitive. Water is much more likely to transfer heat via convection and will encourage the ice to melt further. By removing the water as it accumulates, your ice will melt at a slower rate.

Ice Packs and Insulation

Ice packs can be a great addition to your cooler to not only keep ice longer but to also keep your cooler colder. Ice packs are designed to melt at a temperature lower than regular ice. As ice packs melt, they actually get colder which helps to both keep your cooler cold and keep your regular ice frozen for longer.

The insulation in coolers is designed to stop the transfer of heat. But you also want to minimize how much heat energy your cooler is exposed to. If you’re leaving your cooler in direct sunlight then it’s going to get a lot of heat energy from the sun.

Keeping your cooler cold and clean is part of having a happy healthy summer. At Household Plastic we have a wide range of coolers of various brands and sizes to suit every pocket. Get ready for Summer!

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Keeping your Cooler Clean and Cold this Summer
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