How to Clean Lunch Boxes and Bags

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Lunch is a much-awaited part of anyone's day - whether you're a student taking a break from classes, or taking time off work to replenish your energy for the day. However, a moldy, smelly lunch box can ruin a perfectly good lunch, as not cleaning your lunch box properly can cause bacteria and odors to form.

Keep a clean lunch box with our comprehensive guide to lunch box cleaning, sanitizing, and storing. When it's time to clean your home, let us at Luce Home do the chores for you! You'll have more time to pack a nutritious lunch for you and your kids as our cleaning professionals handle the house chores!

How to Clean a Lunch Box

Step 1: Wipe Away Any Oils

The first step is to wipe away any oils and food residue from the lunch box. You can do this using a paper towel dipped in warm water to make it easier to remove solidified oils. Focus on the corners of the lunch box where oils and food particles tend to accumulate.

Step 2: Create a Warm Soapy Water Solution

Create a warm, soapy water solution by mixing dish detergent and warm water together. Use this solution to clean your lunch box as dish soap breaks down oils leftover from food, and warm water washes away any grease. Submerge the lunch box in your soapy water solution.

Step 3: Scrub Clean

Take a soft sponge and clean the lunch box by hand. Wash the interior and exterior of the container for a squeaky clean finish, and make sure to get into the corners of the box. Wash the lid and utensils as well.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry Completely

Give the lunch box a good rinse with warm tap water, and use a clean dish towel to dry completely. This cleaning method is ideal for everyday cleaning, and can be used to safely clean both plastic and insulated lunch boxes.

How to Deodorize a Lunch Box

Step 1: Clean the Lunch Box

Clean the lunch box by washing the container with dish soap and water. This will remove any leftover oils from food that may be causing the smell to intensify. Scrub out any mold or mildew from the rubber or silicone seal, if any.

Step 2: Sprinkle Baking Soda and Vinegar

Sprinkle baking soda all over the lunch box. Baking soda will absorb odors, completely deodorizing your smelly lunch bag. Place vinegar in a spray bottle, and give the box a spritz. The vinegar and baking soda should bubble, and work to remove the smells coming from your lunch box.

The vinegar smell will dissipate once you rinse and dry the container, so don't worry about making your lunch smell like vinegar the next time you pack it! You can use baking soda and water to clean kids' lunch bags for a safer option - just make sure to coat every inch of your child's lunch bag with the baking soda solution.

Step 3: Let it Sit Overnight

Let the mixture sit for an hour up to overnight. This will give the ingredients time to tackle the smell, and deodorize the lunch box. Vinegar and baking soda will also kill mold and mildew that may be hiding by the rubber or silicone seal found in most lunch boxes.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

Rinse away the solution with cold water, and let it air dry completely. You can also toss the clean lunch box in the dishwasher on the dry setting for quicker drying times as long as the lunch box is labeled dishwasher-safe.

How to Disinfect Lunch Boxes

Step 1: Make a Solution with Hydrogen Peroxide

Mix together equal parts water and 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Shake gently to incorporate, and use this spray as a safe alternative to rubbing alcohol or bleach to clean lunch bags. Hydrogen peroxide is an efficient disinfectant, and breaks down into harmless hydrogen and oxygen molecules as it dries up.

Step 2: Spray the Lunch Box and Lunch Bag

Spray the disinfectant solution all over the lunch box and bag. Let the solution sit as it works to disinfect the containers, and kill off any bacteria, mold, and mildew. Spray the interior and exterior of the containers to completely sanitize them.

Step 3: Let it Dry

Let the solution dry - this is essential as the longer the solution sits on the surface, the better chance it has to kill bacteria and germs. Let the insulated lunch box and bag air dry before using or storing them.

How to Clean Insulated Lunch Bags

Step 1: Wipe Away the Oils

Start cleaning your insulated lunch bag by using a paper towel to wipe away any food spills, oils, and food bits. Dip the paper towel in hot water to easily remove grime, and wipe all over the lunch bag.

Step 2: Clean with Soap and Water

Most insulated lunch bags have a waterproof liner, which is easy to clean with just soap and water. Take a sponge or soft cloth, and dip it in warm or hot water. Squeeze out the excess water, and place one or two drops of liquid dish soap onto the sponge. Use this sponge to wipe the interior of the lunch bag clean.

The soap should break down any oils from food. However, if there is remaining dirt, grease, stains, or mold on the lunch bag, then you can also use vinegar to remove them. Vinegar is safe to use on lunch bags as it will not discolor the fabric, and it acts as an effective stain remover.

Step 3: Machine Wash in the Laundry (Optional)

To clean fabric lunch bags, or insulated lunch bags with a fabric exterior, you can easily do so with the laundry. Place the lunch bag in a laundry bag, and wash it in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, or wash the fabric lunch bag by hand, scrubbing out any visible dirt, stain, or debris. You can use dish soap to wash these as dish soap removes the oils.

Step 4: Let Dry Overnight

Hang the lunch bag up to air dry, then let the bag dry completely before you use it. Make sure the entire bag is dry before using it to prevent mold and mildew from forming in the damp spots.

Looking for more cleaning tips and tricks? Check out our blog articles to help you maintain a clean home! 

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