When do you ever think about the lunch boxes in your house? Probably the only time is in the morning, when your family is trying to get ready for the day and rushing out the door. At that time, you’re just thinking about throwing food in, not cleaning it. Well, now’s the time! You don’t want food sitting in an unclean environment. Here are some tips on how to clean an insulated lunch box.
Can a Lunch Box be Machine-Washed?
Put another way: can I clean without doing any work? Well, it depends on the lunch box. The tag or label on it should let you know if the item can go in the dishwasher or washing machine. In general, most lunch boxes will be able to tolerate the top shelf of the dishwasher. If you’re unsure about machine washing or unwilling to risk your lunch box falling apart, then try hand-washing.
How to Hand Wash
This barely takes more effort than throwing the lunch box in the washing machine would. To hand wash your lunch box, use a clean cloth or sponge to scrub with a mixture of soap and warm water. Wash the inside and outside. Let the lunch box dry with the lid open.
How Often Should it Be Washed?
Ideally, after every use. A dark, enclosed area with food in it is a prime environment for bacteria growth. Prevent bacteria and nastiness with frequent cleanings. If the chaos of everyday life prevents every day cleanings, aim for at least once a week.
How to Eliminate Odors
With bacteria growth usually comes smell. Even without bacteria growth, if you’re toting around a tuna sandwich and pickles, we guarantee some funky smells are going to linger for a while. To get rid of odors, coat the inside of the lunch box in a paste made from water and baking soda. Let the paste dry before wiping it off. If odor still persists, sprinkle more baking soda in the lunch box and let that sit overnight. When you remove the baking soda in the morning, your lunch box will be odor-free!
In addition to frequent washings, you can prevent odors from forming in the first place by placing half-eaten food and trash in the garbage rather than back in the box.
A Clean Place for Your Food
Send your kids off to school with their food stored in a sanitary and clean-smelling place (unless your kid happens to love sardines or stinky cheeses, but we can’t help you there!).