How to Wash a Lunch Box Right 8 Easy Steps

Washing dishes isn’t exactly a favorite pastime, especially how to wash a lunch box. But considering all the yummy snacks and meals you enjoy.

Plus, cleaning your lunchbox later rather than sooner creates a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Yuck!

Fortunately, there are ways to make cleaning your lunchbox quick and easy so you can return to enjoying tasty food without worry or hassle.

This article outlines how to wash a lunch box in 8 easy steps without wasting too much time or energy. We’ll cover everything from pre-soaking to drying in no time—so grab your kitchen supplies, and let’s get cleaning!

What You Need to Gather

We’ve all been there: You unpack your child’s lunch box after school, which smells worse than the trash can. Yikes! Wash that lunch box the right way—in eight easy steps.

Start by gathering all your supplies. These include a kitchen sponge or brush, dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar (optional).

Preparing the Lunch Box for Cleaning

Most people forget that a simple lunch box is a holding cell for various germs and bacteria. So before cleaning it, prep your lunch box for the washing process.

First, clear any food scraps or pieces left behind in the box. It minimizes the risk of rotting that invites unpleasant smells or mold.

Next, give your lunch box a rinse with water.

That will help dislodge any grime possibly stuck on the sides or base. You can also use a mild soap if there are stubborn marks or stains on the inside of the lunch box.

Finally, get to scrubbing using your sponge or brush.

How to Clean a Soft-Sided Lunch Box

The process of cleaning a soft-sided lunch box is surprisingly simple. You only need mild dish soap, warm water, and a soft brush.

Here are the eight easy steps:

Empty all the lunch box contents and discard any food scraps or wrappers.

Take off any plastic liner or rubber bands that are inside the lunch box and set them aside.

Fill your sink with warm, soapy water and submerge the lunch box for five minutes.

Gently work in some mild dish soap with a soft sponge or brush to lightly scrub away dirt and debris on the surface of the lunch box, making sure to reach all crevices and corners.

Rinse off the lunch box with clean water to eliminate all traces of soap before patting it dry with a towel or paper towel.

Reassemble all the initially removed pieces—such as plastic liners and rubber bands—and air dry on a drying rack before putting everything back inside your clean, disinfected lunchbox!

Check for any stubborn stains or stuck-on food bits that need extra attention; if you can’t get them off with soapy water alone, try using white vinegar or baking soda for more effective results without harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbing pads that can damage surfaces over time!

Finally, give your cleaned lunchbox one final rinse with hot water before drying completely to remove any lingering residue from cleaners used during the cleaning process for an even more hygienic finish!

How to Clean a Hard-Shell Lunch Box

It’s easy to clean hard-shell lunch boxes, and with the right technique, you won’t have to worry about food residue or germs hanging about.

Here’s what to do:

Remove the inner lining or container from the lunch box, and wash it separately with warm soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Proceed to fill the sink with warm soapy water (dish soap is good enough) and immerse the lunch box. Let it sit for several minutes so that any food residue can be softened up.

Scrub the interior of the lunch box with a sponge or soft brush to remove food residue, dirt, and grime. Be sure to get into all the corners and crevices — those microwave burritos like to stick around!

Rinse with warm water, then let it air dry completely before replacing the liner or containers inside.

To further disinfect your hard-shell lunch box, use a solution of ¼ cup of white vinegar in two quarts of water (you can also use diluted bleach).

Submerge your lunch box in this solution for several minutes — anything between five and ten should do the trick — then discard it down your drain when done.

Finally, rinse your lunch box again with fresh water, then let it air dry so that no moisture remains inside before storing it away for next time!

How To Clean an Insulated Lunch Box

It can be tempting to skip this step–but don’t! If you have an insulated lunch box, it needs extra care. Here’s how you can do it:

Add Soap

Fill your lunch box with warm water before adding drops of dishwashing detergent or a teaspoon of baking soda. Swish around the cleaning solution to get to all the corners and crevices of the lunch box.

Scrub It Clean

You’ll want to gently scrub the sides and bottom of the lunch box with a cleaning brush or soft cloth. Get rid of dried-on food or crumbs so they don’t get stuck in deep crevices. Rinse it off with clean water afterward.

Drying Time

Let your lunchbox air-dry after rinsing it off. You can also use paper towels to suck up extra moisture on the exterior and interior surfaces. Ensure all surfaces are completely dry before putting anything in your now clean and sparkly lunchbox!

Washing Removable and Adjustable Components

It’s vital to clean all removable and adjustable components thoroughly(regardless of the type of lunch box you have). Do this by removing all lids, inner containers, and other components that are easy to take apart.

Wash these in the sink with warm water and dish soap. Scrub them gently with a nonabrasive sponge or brush if needed.

Next, check for any areas with stuck residue or food particles and gently scrub using a soft-bristled brush. Mix warm water and mild soap to rinse using a soft cloth or paper towel before drying.

A hairdryer should help you dry out hard-to-reach crevices before reassembling the lunchbox components.

Do this regularly to keep your lunch box clean, hygienic, and looks good as new!

Reassembling and Sanitizing the Lunch Box

Do the following once your snack box is all clean and dry:

Reassemble the Lunch Box

It is where you put the lunch box back together and ensure everything is in place.

Be sure to return all pieces to their correct spot, and if anything comes with hardware (such as buckles or straps), make sure these are properly secured.

Sanitize the Lunch Box

Secondly, take the time to sanitize your lunch box. It will kill any remaining bacteria or germs for good.

Mix one tablespoon of bleach per 2 cups of water before dipping a clean cloth or paper towel. Use it to wipe down all surfaces of your lunch box, paying close attention to hard-to-reach areas such as hinges, handles, straps, etc.

Tea tree oil and lemon juice are natural antibacterial alternatives that can be diluted with water and used instead of bleach.

Use whichever option you select sparingly so that no residue is left behind on any of the surfaces you have cleaned.

Tips on Keeping Your Lunch Box Germ-Free

Knowing how to keep a lunch box germ-free is equally crucial. The tips below will help keep your lunch box clean and safe.

Use a food-safe detergent

Using a food-safe detergent when washing your lunch box is always best. These detergents are formulated for food-contact surfaces to kill bacteria or germs on the lunch box’s cover.

Wash your lunch box after each wash

Washing your lunch box after every use is always preferable to prevent bacteria from building up over time. Even in a rush, it is recommended to take a few minutes to rinse the box in soapy water and air-drying it.

Consider using a disinfectant wipe

If you can’t access soap and water, use disinfectant wipes instead. These are great for spot-cleaning certain areas of your lunch box and will help prevent germs from building up over time.

Dry the area thoroughly after wiping it down with the disinfectant wipe.

Following these simple tips, your lunch box can remain clean, germ-free, and safe for storing your favorite snacks and meals!


In summary, following these eight easy steps for how to wash a lunch box will keep your lunch box clean and bacteria-free and make sure that your food remains safe and free from contamination.

Proper cleaning and sanitation also keep your lunch box in good condition for longer.

Even in a hurry, cleaning your lunch box in a few extra minutes can be the difference between a healthy meal and a nasty stomach bug or food-borne illness.

So, wash your lunch box regularly and use suitable cleaning materials to keep your food safe and lunch box clean.

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