Dear Tiaralestari, My kid’s lunch box smells like Old Sandwich. How do I get rid of the funk? Yours sincerely, Onthenose, VIC.
First of all, hats off to you for caring about your child’s lunch box so much that you’ve written to a cleaning columnist looking for a solution. I hope your child appreciates the lengths you have gone to to ensure that their Vegemite sandwich smells of Vegemite, and not Peck’s Paste (they won’t, but someday they will, and you can smile beatifically when this day comes, sipping from a glass of cold chardonnay like a Bond villain and insisting smugly that it’s something “any mother would have done”).
To get rid of your kid’s lunch box pong, there are several things you can do. Here are our best hints.
1. Empty the lunch box immediately, and rinse it. This may mean rescuing it from the bottom of your child’s school bag, or the back of the car, or even heading back to their school to retrieve it. But DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. It’s essential.
2. Wash the box in the top rack of the dishwasher, where the water won’t be so hot that it warps the plastic. If you don’t have a dishwasher, use hot water and dishwashing liquid.
3. Still smelly? OK, time for the big guns. First: crumple a piece of newspaper in the box, close the lid and leave for 24 hours. You could also try exposing the lunch box to sunlight (AKA The World’s Greatest Sanitiser), or filling the lunch box with white vinegar after washing, leaving for a few moments and then rinsing.
4. For truly terrible odours (tuna, garlic, anchovies), make a paste of baking soda and warm water, and rub it all over the inside of the box. Let this sit for a day and then rinse.
5. Now that your kid’s lunch box is beautifully de-stinkified, store it with a big pinch of salt every time, to prevent future smells. (And cool it with the anchovies.)