Repair: Igloo Coolers

My favorite R: Repair for a Little Playmate Igloo Cooler

I’ve had this cooler since elementary school summer camps. I’m in my 30s so this is a quality product and holds a lot of memories for me. My son started playing with it this spring and he was doing great with it until one day I noticed the button was missing.

The cooler is great at insulating and obviously has held up over the decades. So I was curious if replacement parts would be available for something so old. Most lunchboxes nowadays seem to be squishy bags or bigger coolers.

Igloo Coolers has a ton of replacement parts! Unfortunately, the button and spring for my cooler is out of stock on Igloo’s website. So then I headed over to Amazon. Amazon does have the cooler button and spring in stock. Amazon costs $3 more at first glance but I’m not sure what the Igloo shipping cost is since I didn’t need to order anything else from them. In retrospect, if Igloo did have my button in stock I would try to get a group order together with friends and family if there was a price threshold for free shipping. I could use PayPay, Venmo or something to coordinate reimbursement to myself.

Whenever you order replacement parts, especially for older items, make sure you read all the details and review the return policy. Igloo’s website unfortunately did not clarify what models of their products this button and spring would work with, so I would have had to contact customer service. Just this extra step would probably loose a lot of potential customers who don’t want to do so much work to fix products. Amazon’s description for this part calls out specifically my cooler name in a list of coolers this button works for, “Fits Playmate ArmorTM model 43400, Playmate MiniTM model 13054, Playmate The BossTM model 43582, and obsolete Playmate, Playmate PlusTM, Little PlaymateTM.” I made sure there was Free Returns in case I read the description wrong or it actually didn’t work.

The button has slots built in it to help it be flexible as you push it into the hole. I used a tool and wasn’t as patient as I could have been so I did dent the button a bit when I installed it; however it works so I’m happy!

The cooler has been in the garage so it’s dirty. Apologies for not cleaning prior to picture taking!

If you can’t find replacement parts or don’t want to, according to Earth 911 plastic coolers in general cannot easily be recycled because they are a combination of different types of plastic. I’ve asked Austin Resource Recovery to add “coolers” to their What Do I Do With? app and will update this post if needed. Until further notice, if you live in Austin, you can make an appointment to drop plastic coolers off at the Hard Plastics station at the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center (RRDC). Plastics dropped off at the Hard Plastics station are hand sorted and taken apart as-needed for recycling, unlike the single-stream blue cart that is just sorted and baled. Styrofoam coolers can be dropped off at the RRDC at the Styrofoam station. In my experience it’s difficult to find people who want Styrofoam coolers on Buy Nothing or in neighborhood posts.

What older item have you repaired that are either sentimental and/or a quality item?

1) Check to see if your broken item has replacement parts.
2) Check the internet for hacks, reuse, and other ideas if there aren’t replacement parts.
3) Write companies to let them know how much you appreciate them providing quality products, replacement parts, and any recommendations to improve the repair process.

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