Hacks for Keeping Bugs and Dirt Off your Cooler
Coolers are a necessary evil for surviving hot days or long periods of time outdoors. They keep our beverages cold, food from spoiling, and they store the glorious ice we can rub on our foreheads after sweating in the sun. But bugs and mud can collect on the bottom of the cooler and get carried home with us, or worse, invade our food. Not to mention once packed with ice the coolers can be heavy. Today’s post is about reducing these challenges and the two not-so-obvious tricks Alan and I like to use to help protect our coolers, and the car fabric, from the great and heavy outdoors.
First, we recommend the use of a furniture mover. I’m not talking about hiring a day laborer to carry your cooler- though that’s not a bad idea. I’m referring to the four slats of wood attached to four wheels you can purchase at Home Depot or Amazon sometimes called a moving dolly.
Using a furniture mover under your cooler does two amazing things: it lifts the cooler off the ground away from bugs and dirt, and makes it easier to transport the cooler from the vehicle to the outdoor location of choice. If you are lucky enough to have a cooler that came with wheels, you know that the cooler bottom touches the ground and those wheels will track more dirt home than a cooler without them. By using a furniture mover, you can ensure the bottom of the cooler, wheels and all, remain dirt free without putting your back out.
But what about the furniture mover wheels; aren’t they dirty now? They can be, yes. Which brings me to my third favorite feature of using a furniture mover. Furniture movers have a thin, sleek body making them easy to flip upside down and store. By flipping the furniture mover upside down on its flat side, the dirty wheels are pointing away from your car floors and seats keeping them safe from spreading dirt. The thin shape also makes packing the furniture mover simple as it can easily slide under the driver’s seat, lie in the rear window of your vehicle, or lay flat on top of your cooler.
Bugs. Bugs crawl, so to reduce the number of bugs on your cooler we need to reduce the entry points a bug has to crawl up onto it from the ground. Placing a furniture mover under our cooler lifts the four long sides of a cooler that a bug can crawl up off the ground and reduces that contact to four small entry points on the wheels of the mover. A furniture mover contacts the ground at its wheels which is about 4″ of total contact space. Compare this to the 84″ of ground contact a 50qt cooler has, and the 105″ of a 100qt, and we can easily see how the number of bugs on your cooler will be reduced simply by using of a furniture mover.
A furniture mover is often enough to eliminate the number of bugs that reach the cooler; however, if you are in an area that has a high concentration of creepy crawlies more consideration may be needed.
This is where our second recommendation comes in, diatomaceous earth. It took me months to pronounce that word correctly. Truly. I’m not going to even try writing its phonetics out, but diatomaceous earth, or “DE” as the industry calls it, is amazing.
DE is an all-natural grayish-white powder that looks like baking flour and is used in common household abrasives like toothpastes, scrubs, and polishes. Most importantly, it is used by farmers for pest control. Pest control that is so safe it can be eaten by pets and humans! Therefore, it is perfect for camping and backyard use.
How it works. DE acts as a barrier for bugs because, while it feels smooth to us, it is very sharp to bug’s little insect bodies. It’s the equivalent of us walking through a dense forest of thorns. We aren’t entering and neither are they. If a bug is crazy enough to enter, DE sticks to them and dissolves their shell so they die. The only key to DE is that the DE must remain dry in its powder form for the pest control to work. So if it gets wet, reapply.
Alan and I keep a Ziploc of DE handy in our regular camping gear and sprinkle it around the wheels of the furniture mover, so no bug dare crawl on the mover or up to the cooler. We also sprinkle it around our table legs to keep bugs out of our food prep and eating area. One sprinkle during camp set-up is enough to last the entire weekend so long as it doesn’t rain.
There it is! Reduced contact with the ground is imperative to keeping your cooler clean and bug free. A small furniture mover will do the trick and DE is a great sidekick should your sleek superhero need some backup. You will also get the added advantage of easy transport of your cooler and a dietary supplement for home. Hope it helps.
Let us know in the comments if you have any creative ideas for protecting your cooler!
Alan and I have a 12.25” x 18” furniture mover and it has worked well under both our 100qt and 50qt coolers (pictures above). We purchased ours at Home Depot many years ago, and store it under the car seats or near the rear window. Amazon also has them. We used to purchase DE from my local supplement and health store. Now we order it from Amazon and use it as a dietary supplement at home in addition to outdoor cooler and table protection.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Writing this post reminded me of a cute story from Alan’s and my first camping trip together. We had reserved a walk-in site that was about 50 feet uphill from our parking spot and we arrived on the tail end of a severe thunderstorm. We also had not packed anything to attach the 100qt cooler to the furniture mover with other than gravity. While that is usually ok, going uphill is a different beast. The cooler was full, so carrying it was not an option.
After trying to push the cooler uphill in the rain and mud, Alan took the tow rope and metal hook from the car’s emergency kit, attached it to the furniture mover, and dragged the cooler up to the camp pad while I held the cooler onto the furniture mover. It was like pulling a stubborn horse by the reigns. The cooler’s weight and Alan’s uphill angle caused the furniture mover’s wheels to dig into the mud and the cooler to slide off multiple times.
After a couple tries and moments of teamwork, Alan, myself, and the cooler sat victoriously on top of the hill with the mover’s wheel tracks in the mud below. We learned many lessons that trip, including knowing how far the camp site is from the parking spot before booking or packing.
Header photograph by Rubbermade licensed under CC Attribution 2.0. Article images by Acacia Thornton. All rights reserved.