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Will the Washing Machine Clean My Koozie, or Totally Destroy It?

They hold beer about as well as they hold smell. So how am I supposed to freshen things up?

The last time I brought koozies to a backyard barbecue, I accidentally left them all in a damp, sealed cooler for over a year afterwards, and they turned into a mound of mold and stench

Hypothetically, however, let’s say I threw most of those koozies out but maybe held onto one or two because they say really funny and cool things on them. And let’s say I’d like to whip those koozies out over the Fourth of July weekend, but they’re still covered in mold, stinky as heck and clearly need to be washed. Can you wash koozies in the washing machine and call it a day? 

Funny, right?

According to Richard Clews, a 30-year veteran of the garment industry and founder of, you “absolutely can wash koozies in the washing machine.” But because most koozies are made from a type of synthetic rubber called neoprene, you have to follow specific washing instructions. 

“Smell is very hard to get out of koozies because neoprene is great at absorbing smells and holding on to them,” Clews explains. “With that in mind, start by taking some white vinegar and mixing it with a few drops of essential oil or Febreze, if available.” He adds that if the vinegar is stronger than 8 percent acetic acid, you should dilute it with water first. 

Next, rub the vinegar solution all over and inside the koozie until the smell is gone, or at least mostly gone. If the vinegar doesn’t work, then Anton Ngige, an analytical chemist who specializes in detergents, suggests pulling out the big guns. “You may need to soak your koozies overnight in a solution of cold water and laundry detergent if they’re extremely dirty or grimy,” he tells me. “The next morning, squeeze out the dirty water and allow them to soak for a little while longer before turning to the washing machine.” 

“Just make sure to use a mild detergent, gentle cycle and cold water,” he continues. Because neoprene is sensitive to heat, hot water could “ruin the shape, and possibly function, of your koozies.” Ultimately, though, the washing machine “should get any stains and debris out of it,” Clews says. “And they’ll come out smelling great, at which point you should hang them out to air dry.”

Personally, all of that sounds like too much work to save the crusty old koozies from a bachelorette party I found in an alley 10 years ago. I’ll be koozie-free going forward, doomed to a life of rawdogging beers no matter how cold my poor little hand gets.