A picnic basket usually gets used more during the summer months than the rest of the year. Picnics are a big part of summer fun. We take our picnic baskets to the park, the beach, and even on camping trips. With all this travel—plus the fact that they’re filled with food—picnic baskets can become quite dirty. Once or twice yearly, cleaning them out should be part of everyone’s housecleaning routine.
The Picnic Basket Inside
- Baking Soda
- Several Clean Cloths
- Oil of Choice: vegetable, olive, or conditioning
- Cleaning Brush: small hand brush or clean paint brush
Cleaning a picnic basket goes beyond simply removing the items you enjoyed at your picnic from its interior. What if food spilled inside the basket? What if it is sandy from the beach or filled with pine needles from a camping trip? It’s important to address each of these housecleaning duties, and more, when cleaning out a picnic basket.
The first step in cleaning the basket is removing everything from inside. That means not just the food and drink items you carried to your picnic or their empty containers, but even those items inside that you didn’t use. Many baskets come with their own sets of plastic plates, silverware, and glasses/or cups. Removing these before you proceed to clean out the basket means the interior will get completely cleaned.
Once everything has been emptied from your picnic basket, do a thorough inspection of the interior. Start by taking care of dust or debris resulting from storage or the location of your picnic. Empty a bag of uncooked rice into the basket. Close the lid and proceed to shake vigorously. The uncooked pieces of rice will dislodge dust, sand, dirt, pine needles, or other debris from the basket’s weave. Remove all the rice and throw it away.
If food or drinks have spilled, dampen a cleaning cloth with equal parts vinegar and water. Blot the soiled area until the spill or stain is gone. Leaving the picnic basket open will allow any dampness from the vinegar to evaporate. If the vinegar scent remains—or if the basket smells musty or dirty—set an open box of baking soda inside the basket and leave it overnight. Not only will it absorb any odor, it will also absorb any remaining vinegar scent.
Clean the Outside
Wipe down the outside of the basket with a damp cloth. You may use the aforementioned vinegar method if there is any heavy soiling. Use a small hand broom or clean paint brush to brush away any debris from trees, dust, or sand. Don’t forget to clean the handle of the basket, too. This often becomes soiled from dirty hands. The vinegar will work well to clean this off.
If the lid and handle of your basket aren’t sealed with polyurethane, you may wish to occasionally treat the wood with oil. Regular vegetable oil or olive oil work well, or you may choose to by a conditioning oil at your local kitchen store. Rub the oil onto the wooden lid and handle using a soft cloth. Allow the oil to soak into the wood. Buffing these areas with a clean, dry cloth the next day will result in conditioned wood that will withstand years of picnics.
Organize Your Picnic Basket
In addition to replacing plates, silverware, cups, etc. that came from the inside of the basket, this is the perfect time to organize the inside of your picnic basket for future picnics. Fold up the tablecloth you use on picnics and place it in the bottom of the basket. Add a package of napkins. Seal salt and pepper shakers inside a plastic bag, and throw in a few extra bags as well.
A package of wet wipes does double duty when stored in your basket. It can clean hands before enjoying your picnic, and wipe down anything soiled or sticky when you are through. When you add cleaning and organizing your picnic basket to your list of housecleaning chores, you’ll be ready to roll the next time someone suggests you go on a picnic. And summer is filled with an abundance of opportunities for doing just that.