• Cleaning: 20 – 30 Minutes
  • Drying: 3 – 4 Hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Cost: Low

While neoprene is a material commonly used to make wetsuits, seat covers, drink coolers, and other insulated products, it’s also used for durable lunch bags. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that provides great sealing and insulation and keeps your lunches warm and delicious.

These properties make neoprene a great material for lunch bags. Not only are they durable, but they’re also easy to clean since lunch bags often trap dirt or get stained with food regularly. The cleaning process should only take about 20 – 30 minutes.

The best way to clean a neoprene lunch bag is by removing all the contents inside and washing it either by hand, using a washing machine, or throwing it in a dishwasher. We’ve also made sure to include a section where we answer some of the most frequently asked questions. Let’s jump right in!

1. Remove All of the Contents

The first step to cleaning your neoprene lunch bag is to remove all of its contents. This includes utensils, containers, wrappings, food residues, stains, and all sorts of impurities. 

If you have spilled any food inside the lunch bag, you’ll need to remove it carefully before you begin the washing process. Removing all of the contents will not only make cleaning easier but will also prevent any damage to it while cleaning. 

Leftover food can also lead to mold spots. Therefore, you should remove all of the contents, including food spills as soon as possible. Moreover, we recommend lightly cleaning the inside of your lunch bag with a dish towel or soft cloth before moving on to the more intensive washing step.

2. Wash Your Neoprene Lunch Bag

After your lunch bag is clear of debris, you’ll need to wash it properly, so it is spotless from the inside and out. We recommend using any of the three methods listed below for cleaning neoprene lunch bags. 

All these methods are easy to follow and highly effective, granted that you follow all the recommendations and instructions mentioned below carefully. 

Using a Washing Machine

Using a washing machine to clean your neoprene lunch bag is the easiest way to make sure it’s spotless inside and out. 

When the water from the washing machine sloshes around, stubborn stains and leftover residue gets cleaned effectively.  For cleaning your neoprene lunch bag in a washing machine, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Use cold water
  • Set to a delicate wash cycle
  • Use a mild detergent

Put the neoprene lunch bag in the washing machine. Ensure that you turn the lunch bag inside. Add a mild laundry detergent and set your washing machine on its gentlest cycle. If your washing machine has a selection of settings, use a delicate wash cycle – a gentle rinse and no spin cycle (if possible). 

This will allow your neoprene lunch bag to be cleaned properly without being damaged. You may also wash it together with your tablecloths and towels. However, it’s best not to wash them together with your clothes. 

By Hand-Washing

If your washing machine doesn’t have an appropriate cycle option or if you don’t have a washing machine, you can also opt to hand-wash your neoprene lunch bag. Most of the steps for hand-washing will be similar to using a washing machine. 

Take note that hand-washing allows you to control the amount of strain applied to the material, preventing any wrinkling or creasing. You’ll also be able to remove stubborn stains more effectively, as you can focus on specific areas. 

To hand-wash your neoprene lunch bag, you will need to use:

  • Cold or lukewarm water
  • Mild soap
  • Vinegar
  • Enzyme stain remover
  • Soft brush

Start by filling a small tub with cold or lukewarm water, a mild soap, and a small quantity of vinegar, and mix the solution. Place your neoprene lunch bag into the cleaning solution and allow it to soak for at least 5 minutes. 

The soapy water will cause any hardened food stains to soften on the neoprene material. To remove stains more effectively from your lunch bag, pre-treat it with an enzyme stain remover. 

Apply the product onto the stain and leave it on for about 3 to 4 minutes. The stain remover formula will allow you to remove more stubborn stains from your lunch bag effortlessly. After that, soak it for an additional 20 minutes. 

If you still notice any sticky and grimy spots or food particles on the bag, scrub them with a soft brush to gently lift them from the material. Soak for an additional 2 to 5 minutes if needed.

After soaking, rinse the bag with clean water and turn out the neoprene lunch bag to allow the water to clean all crevices and cracks inside.

Using a Dishwasher

We don’t recommend using a dishwasher to clean your neoprene bag. However, you can use this option if no other one is available to your or you’re in a hurry. After having tested this a number of times, we find two issues with using a dishwasher. Firstly, using cold water won’t allow you to wash it along with your dirty plates, cups, and cutlery. 

Secondly, using a warm water setting on your dishwasher may potentially damage the neoprene material and it may also lose its elasticity. However, using a dishwasher occasionally is going to be fine. 

If you’re going to use a dishwasher, make sure of the following: 

  • Use cold water
  • Use a mild detergent

Place your neoprene lunch bag in the dishwasher inside out and allow it to run in a cold water setting. The mild dishwasher detergent will clean the interior and the exterior of the bag and ensure that it is free of stains. 

After the cleaning process is completed, make sure to spot-check for any leftover stains. You may need to remove any type of stubborn stains by hand-washing them. 

3. Let It Dry

Once your neoprene lunch bag has been cleaned using a washing machine, hand-washing, or a dishwater, it should be spotless and free of dirt and food residue. Now, you’ll need to let it dry!

The quickest way to clean your neoprene lunch bag is by dabbing it with a dry towel to absorb the water and subsequently drying it near a window or on a balcony. Never use a dryer and remember to keep them out of direct sunlight, as this may damage the material. 

Important Notice: Neoprene lunch bags that are not dried carefully and remain damp may develop mold. Therefore always ensure that it’s completely dry before using it to store your lunch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got any questions about cleaning neoprene lunch bags? In this section, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions that were sent in by some of our readers!

Can I Wash My Neoprene Lunch Bag with Hot Water?

We recommend against washing neoprene lunch bags with hot water since high heat can cause damage and also affect the material’s elasticity. To avoid creasing, peeling, and tearing, it’s best to use cold water (lukewarm water is fine if cold water isn’t available). 

How Often Should I Wash My Neoprene Lunch Bag?

Since they are easy to clean, they should be washed weekly if you use them regularly. If you use your neoprene lunch bag infrequently, wash them once in a while or whenever you notice any staining. 

Important Tips and Best Practices

Here are some of the important tips when it comes to washing your neoprene lunch bags using any of the three abovementioned methods. Make sure that you don’t forget them!

  • Use cold or lukewarm water
  • Use a mild detergent
  • Use a delicate or gentle cycle
  • Let it air dry
  • Avoid using a dryer
  • Avoid direct sunlight