How To Clean Insulated Lunch Bags: The Stuck On You Guide

Keeping your insulated lunch bag clean isn't just about avoiding the "eww" factor; it's crucial for your health. A dirty lunch bag can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mould, putting you at risk every time you reach in for a bite. 


We've packed this guide with easy and effective tips to keep your lunch bag clean and safe to carry your scrumptious sandwiches, salads, and snacks.


Why Do Insulated Lunch Bags Need Special Attention?


The insulation that keeps your food warm or cold is made of materials like foam sandwiched between the bag's inner and outer layers. This material setup means spills and odours can get trapped more easily within your bag. 


Spills and any other retained moisture in the dark, warm environment of your lunch bag can lead to nasty mould and bacteria growth- a real health hazard!


So, let's go through how to clean insulated lunch bags to keep them hygienic and healthy.


Step-by-Step Guide on How To Clean an Insulated Lunch Bag


Follow these steps for weekly lunch bag cleaning.


1. Empty the Bag


Remove all items from the lunch bag: food containers, utensils, and rubbish.


2. Shake Out Crumbs and Debris


Open the bag wide and gently shake it upside down over a bin to remove crumbs and debris. You can also use a handheld vacuum or a soft brush to remove stubborn particles.


3. Prepare a Cleaning Solution


Mix some mild dishwashing soap with warm water in a bowl. Do not use harsh cleaners, like bleach, as these can damage the insulation or leave a residue.


4. Clean the Interior


Dip a soft sponge or cloth in the soapy water, wring it out well, and then wipe the inside of the bag. Focus on any stained or sticky areas. 


To remove tougher stains, gently scrub them with a soft-bristled cleaning brush or an old toothbrush and a mixture of water and bicarbonate soda.


5. Clean the Exterior


Dip the sponge or cloth in the same soapy water and wring it out well again. Then wipe down the outside of the bag, paying special attention to areas that frequently come into contact with surfaces, like the bottom.


6. Rinse Carefully


Rinse the sponge or cloth under clean water and wring it out. Then, wipe the interior and exterior of the bag to remove any soap residue. 


7. Dry the Bag


Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to remove any moisture, then leave the bag open and upside down to air dry completely. To speed up the drying process, hang the bag in front of a fan.


8. Disinfect the Bag


For extra cleanliness, lightly spray the inside of the bag with a food-safe disinfectant, or make up your own natural disinfectant and deodoriser with water and white vinegar. White vinegar has strong disinfecting properties and is clear, so it won’t leave stains or colours behind like other types of vinegar might.


Mix one part water with one part white vinegar in a spray bottle, shake it and lightly spray it inside the lunch bag. Leave the bag open to fully dry. 


Insulated Lunch Bag Care Tips for Long-Term Maintenance


If you're short on time and your lunch bag is machine washable, you can pop it in the machine on a gentle cycle once a week as per the manufacturer's instructions.


While weekly cleaning is essential, it's important not to ignore daily cleaning for ultimate food safety.


That involves emptying the lunch bag, shaking out crumbs, and wiping it down with a) disinfectant wipes or b) a cloth or sponge damp with warm water and a mild cleaning product. Then, leave your bag open to air dry overnight.


Here are some other insulated lunch bag cleaning hacks.


  1. Take immediate action on spills, wiping them up with a damp cloth to prevent stains and odours from setting in. For sticky spills, a little dish soap mixed with water helps. If a spill occurs in your child's lunch bag at school, teach them how to use a serviette or paper towel to collect the liquid. 
  2. Pack food and drinks in leak-proof containers to minimise spills and leaks.
  3. Store the bag in a dry, ventilated area out of direct sunlight when not in use to prevent mould and mildew growth caused by trapped moisture.
  4. Use natural odour absorbers when the bag is not in use. Place two to three tablespoons of bicarbonate soda in a small cloth bag or opt for pre-packaged odour-eliminating charcoal bags available online or at home improvement and department stores.


Stuck On You Insulated Lunch Bags


Here at Stuck On You, our high-quality insulated lunch bags for kids and adults feature 



But wait, there's more! Our lunch bags are customisable with different fonts for your name or your child's, different colours, and fun motifs for kids.


To clean our cooler bags, follow the steps mentioned in this guide. If you need more specific guidance, please don't hesitate to contact us at


FAQs About How To Clean Insulated Lunch Bags 


How Often Should I Clean My Insulated Lunch Bag?


To prevent mould and bacteria growth, staining and odours, wipe down the inside of your insulated lunch bag daily and thoroughly clean it at least once a week.


How Do You Get Mould out of an Insulated Lunch Bag? 


  1. Gently brush off any loose mould.
  2. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. 
  3. Spray the solution inside the lunch bag, focusing on mouldy areas. Let it sit for 10 minutes. 
  4. For stubborn mould, scrub gently with a soft brush.
  5. Wipe the inside of the lunch bag with a damp cloth. 
  6. Use a dry cloth or paper towel to wipe up any moisture, then air dry the bag completely in a well-ventilated area or under direct sunlight, as sunlight can help kill remaining mould spores.


How Do You Get the Smell out of an Insulated Lunch Bag?


The following hacks use safe cleaning products for lunch bag smells:


  • Sprinkle bicarbonate soda inside the bag and let it sit overnight. Vacuum or shake it out the the next day.
  • Wipe the inside of the bag with a solution of lemon juice and water. 
  • After cleaning, leave the bag open and place it in a well-ventilated area or outside to air dry completely.
  • Place a sachet of activated charcoal or fresh coffee grounds inside the bag overnight. 


Is It Okay To Wash an Insulated Lunch Bag?


It's okay to wash an insulated lunch bag as long as you follow the specific care instructions provided by the manufacturer to avoid damaging the insulation. Most can be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild detergent and then air-dried. 


Can you wash an insulated lunch bag in the washing machine? Some may be machine washable on a gentle cycle with cold water. However, they're not suited for dryers, so they must be air-dried. 


Keep It Clean, Keep It Fresh: Choose Easy-Care Lunch Bags From Stuck On You!


Clean insulated lunch bags lead to cleaner eating habits; you can rest assured knowing your sandwich hasn’t been marinating in last week’s yoghurt spill!


Explore our range of easy-to-clean insulated cooler bags today and design a personalised lunch bag for yourself or your kids.

If you have more questions about how to clean insulated lunch bags or about any of our products, please contact us by filling out this online form.

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