Last Updated: August 14th, 2023

17 Innovative Ways Using Old Coolers

17 Innovative Ways Using Old Coolers

Coolers, also known as ice chests or coolers, have long been popular for chilling food and beverages during picnics, barbecues, and outdoor events. However, these versatile containers have a range of alternative uses beyond their traditional cooling capabilities.

The primary purpose of coolers is to provide a convenient way to store and transport perishable items while keeping them fresh and safe to consume. They are widely used for picnics, camping trips, beach outings, and other outdoor activities where access to refrigeration is limited.

Packaging the cooler with ice or ice packs can extend the shelf life of foods and maintain refreshing beverages even in hot weather.

Alternative Uses Of Coolers

In a world where sustainability is increasingly important, finding alternative uses for old items is not just a trend; it’s a necessity. It requires a pinch of creativity, a dash of DIY spirit, and a good understanding of your repurposing item.

Outdoor Planter

An old cooler can make an excellent outdoor planter. Its insulated walls are perfect for maintaining the temperature and moisture levels that your plants crave.

Pet Bed

Coolers can play a role in pet care and travel scenarios. For pet owners, coolers can be used to store and transport pet food, ensuring it stays fresh and free from contamination.

Additionally, if you’re traveling with a pet and need to keep their medications or special food chilled, a cooler can provide a convenient solution.

Storage Box

Why buy a new storage box when you can repurpose your old cooler? Its robust design makes it ideal for storing anything from tools to toys.


Stack a few coolers on their sides, secure them together, and voila – you’ve got yourself a unique and sturdy bookshelf.

Picnic Basket

A cooler can double up as a picnic basket, holding not just your food and drinks but also picnic essentials like plates, cups, and napkins.

Toy Box

For those with kids, an old cooler can serve as a perfect toy box. It’s robust and spacious and comes with a secure lid to keep those toys from spreading all over the house.

Outdoor Table

A cooler can easily convert into an outdoor table. Just flip the lid, and it’s ready to hold your drinks, snacks, or even a game of cards.

Fishing Box

Fishing enthusiasts can use their old cooler as a fishing box to store bait, tackle, and the catch of the day.

Emergency Kit Holder

An old cooler is perfect for storing emergency supplies. Its insulation can help keep medical supplies at the right temperature, and its portability makes it easy to grab in case of an emergency.

Wine Cooler

If you’re a wine connoisseur, your old cooler can serve as a makeshift wine cooler. It can keep your wine bottles at the perfect temperature, ready for your next gathering.

Food & Coolers

Coolers are revolutionizing the food delivery industry by providing an efficient and reliable solution for maintaining the temperature and quality of delivered meals. Their insulation properties, versatility, and ability to preserve freshness make them an invaluable asset for food delivery services.

By incorporating coolers into their operations and following best practices, food delivery services can ensure customer satisfaction and enhance their reputation for delivering high-quality meals.

Coolers Used For Medicine Storage

Many medications, such as vaccines, insulin, certain antibiotics, and biologics, are highly sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Exposure to temperatures outside the recommended range can lead to reduced efficacy or even render the medication ineffective. It is essential to store these medications within the specified temperature range to ensure their therapeutic value.

Camping and Outdoor Activities

One of the most popular alternative uses of coolers is for camping and outdoor adventures. Aside from keeping food and drinks cold, coolers can also serve as temporary storage for non-perishable camping supplies such as utensils, cooking equipment, and toiletries.

The insulation properties of the cooler help protect these items from extreme temperatures and keep them organized in one place.

Food Preservation during Power Outages

During power outages or emergencies, a cooler can be a valuable asset for preserving perishable food items. By filling it with ice or ice packs, you can create a makeshift refrigerator that will help prevent spoilage and maintain food safety. This is particularly useful in situations where electricity may be unavailable for an extended period.

Medical and Pharmaceutical Storage

Coolers are commonly used in the medical and pharmaceutical industries to transport and store temperature-sensitive medications, vaccines, and biological samples. These boxes provide a controlled environment to keep the contents at the required temperature, ensuring their efficacy and integrity.

In a home setting, coolers can also be utilized to store certain medications or medical supplies that need to be kept cool.

Transporting Temperature-Sensitive Items

Coolers can offer an added layer of protection when transporting items that are sensitive to temperature changes, such as delicate electronics or heat-sensitive materials.

The insulation properties of the box help shield the contents from extreme heat or cold during transit, minimizing the risk of damage. This is especially beneficial when shipping items over long distances or in extreme weather conditions.

DIY Projects and Crafts

Coolers can be repurposed for various DIY projects and crafts. They can serve as storage containers for art supplies, tools, or small materials. With a little creativity, you can even transform a cooler into a unique piece of furniture or a decorative item for your home or garden. The durability and insulation of the box make it suitable for such creative endeavors.


Can any cooler be repurposed, or are there specific features to look for?

Most coolers can be repurposed, but it’s essential to consider their insulation capabilities and overall condition. Look for coolers with sturdy construction and efficient insulation for optimal use in alternative scenarios.

How can I maintain the temperature inside a cooler for an extended period?

To maintain the temperature inside a cooler for extended periods, consider using high-quality ice packs, pre-chilled items, or dry ice, depending on your specific needs. Minimizing the cooler’s opening frequency will also help preserve the cold temperature.

Can I use a cooler for storing temperature-sensitive items in my vehicle?

Yes, a cooler can be used for storing temperature-sensitive items in your vehicle. However, it’s crucial to be mindful of extreme temperatures inside the car, especially during hot summer days. Consider insulating the cooler further or using additional cooling methods to maintain the desired temperature.

Are coolers eco-friendly?

Coolers made from recyclable materials such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene (PP) are considered more environmentally friendly. Look for coolers labeled as recyclable or made from recycled materials to minimize their impact on the environment.

Can I repurpose a damaged or broken cooler?

Repurposing a damaged or broken cooler may be challenging, as it may compromise its insulation properties or pose safety risks. It’s recommended to ensure the cooler is in good condition before repurposing it for alternative uses.

How can I clean my old cooler?

To clean your old cooler, simply use a mixture of warm water and mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly and let it dry completely before repurposing.

What materials do I need to convert my cooler into a planter?

Besides the cooler, you would need potting soil, plants, and some rocks or pebbles for drainage.

Can I use my cooler as both a storage box and a table?

Yes, you can. The flat surface of the cooler lid can serve as a table, while the inside can store your items.

How can I make my cooler into a comfortable pet bed?

You can add a soft cushion or a pet bed inside the cooler. Make sure the size of the cushion fits inside the cooler.

Can I keep my wine bottles in a cooler?

Absolutely. A cooler can help maintain the temperature of your wine bottles, making it a great makeshift wine cooler.


If you’re considering repurposing a cooler, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Clean the cooler thoroughly before repurposing it to ensure there are no food residues or odors.
  • Use dividers or containers to organize the contents inside the cooler.
  • Consider adding extra insulation if needed, such as foam inserts or reflective sheets, depending on the specific purpose.
  • Label the cooler to easily identify its new purpose and avoid confusion.

Coolers are not limited to their traditional role of keeping food and drinks cold. Their insulation properties and portability make them highly versatile for various alternative uses.

Whether you’re camping, facing a power outage, transporting temperature-sensitive items, or engaging in DIY projects, a cooler can provide practical solutions. Explore the possibilities, repurpose your cooler, and discover the benefits it can bring beyond its initial purpose.