Years ago, I saw an article in a Popular Mechanics magazine. It addressed this exact problem. The powerful stink from old coolers is just as rank as the stink from today’s coolers. My friend Tom also read this tip and swears by their not so stinky suggestion.
Many stinky ice chest owners try bleach, cleansers, chemicals, and scrubbers to de-stink their coolers. Usually, the cleaning process starts after the stink has already started. Many ice chests die an early death from smells that just will not go away.
Tom suggests that you immediately rinse the cooler after each use. Do not use any chemicals, bleach or cleaners. The cooler is also used to contain food, drinks, and fish that you plan to consume. Avoid any chemical contamination!
Once rinsed, dry with a towel or leave the lid open and exposed. Once the cooler is dry, add a little Vanilla extract to a paper towel. A teaspoon or so is all that you need. Now wipe the coolers surfaces with the Vanilla. Leave the fragrant paper towel in the bottom of the cooler. Your cooler is now clean, chemically safe, and pretty “sniffty”!
Over years, some light brown color may be visible from the Vanilla. With scrubbing, this can also be removed but, most coolers die before that becomes an issue. The truth is, that folks will be able to enjoy opening your cooler to smell the Vanilla fragrance and not a scent that triggers a vomit reflex.
You can also extend the life of the cooler by replacing or protecting the hinges. Replacement cooler hinges are available on line. Use some silicon adhesive, on the screw threads, when replacing. You can also reinforce the hinges with a flexible fabric or rubber cover, that is attached overtop the hinges. An internal string, spring, or strap is also a good idea to hold the lid partly open. This will keep the lid from folding back too far and breaking the plastic hinges.
Keep a damp towel spread out over top the ice and cooler contents. This will keep the temperature down and save the ice from melting so fast. Freezing ice jugs, with water, allows the cooler to stay chilled and will also provide cool water to drink later. The melted ice water may also be used to clean and rinse.
Attach an old plastic cutting board or tray to the outside cooler lid. This will serve as a cutting board for bait, or cleaning fish. Screw the board in place with stainless steel rust proof hardware and seal with silicone adhesive, on the screw threads.
Stay stink free!
For more Montana Grant, visit his website at www.montanagrantfishing.com.