Yeti coolers have become incredibly popular in recent years. Their unique rotomolded construction makes them nearly indestructible and able to keep ice frozen for days.
But what happens if you try to microwave a Yeti cooler? Is it safe to put it in the microwave? Let’s take a closer look.
The Construction of Yeti Coolers
Yeti coolers are made out of a specialized plastic called rotomolded polyethylene. This material is molded as a solid piece, making it much more durable than standard coolers that are put together in pieces.
The rotomolded construction results in extra-thick plastic walls that provide superior insulation. Yeti states their coolers can keep ice frozen for 6+ days.
Key features of Yeti cooler construction:
- Rotomolded as one piece, no weak seams
- Thick plastic walls—up to 3 inches thick
- Permafrost insulation in the walls and lid
- Food-grade material is safe for storing food and drinks.
- Bearfoot non-slip feet won’t budge or scratch surfaces.
- Rubber latches and hinges: tight seal and easy opening
This high-quality construction is what makes Yeti coolers so sought-after. But how does this affect whether a Yeti can go in the microwave?
Are Yeti Coolers microwave-safe?
The short answer is no. Yeti coolers should never be microwaved. Even though they are made from food-grade plastic, the thick walls and insulation make them unsafe for microwave use.
Microwaves work by emitting electromagnetic waves that cause water molecules in food to vibrate, creating heat. However, thick plastic can absorb too much of this energy instead of transmitting it to the food.
If you put a Yeti cooler in the microwave, here are the potential risks:
- The plastic walls could warp, melt, or burn from overheating.
- The insulation inside could overheat and leach chemicals.
- It may damage the interior of your microwave.
- The cooler could catch fire or explode.
None of those outcomes are desirable! So microwaving a Yeti is strongly discouraged. The plastic and insulation are designed to retain temperatures, not become cooking vessels.
Can Any Cooler Go In The Microwave?
While Yeti coolers should stay out of microwaves, some standard plastic coolers may be okay for brief heating. The key factors are thinner walls and a lack of insulation.
Some plastic coolers that may be microwave-safe:
- Basic plastic lunchboxes or storage containers
- Disposable foam coolers
- Soft-sided vinyl coolers
- Any container specifically marked “Microwave Safe”
You’ll want to avoid metal parts, thick insulation, or plastic with metal flakes when microwaving. Only use smooth, thin plastic containers meant for food. And don’t microwave them for more than 1-2 minutes to warm, not cook, the contents.
It’s best to verify if a cooler or container is microwave-safe before trying it. When in doubt, don’t microwave it!
What if You Accidentally Microwave a Yeti?
Let’s say you briefly put your Yeti cooler in the microwave before realizing your mistake. What happens?
Here’s what you may notice:
- Burning plastic smell
- Deformation or warping of the plastic
- Bubbling, cracking, or peeling on the inner surface
- Melting of insulation or plastic parts
- Sparking inside the microwave
The cooler will likely be damaged or unusable after being microwaved. The insulation’s properties will be compromised.
If you catch it quickly, the outside of the cooler may be okay. But the interior plastic and insulation should be inspected closely for any signs of damage. It’s probably best to contact Yeti about a replacement.
Don’t continue to use a microwaved Yeti for food and drinks. Any damaged plastic or insulation could leach chemicals into the items stored inside.
Proper Yeti Cooler Usage
While microwaving them is a definite no-no, how should you properly use and care for a Yeti cooler?
Here are some tips:
- Hand wash only; no dishwasher!
- Use mild soap and avoid abrasive brushes.
- Hose down the exterior after trips.
- Empty the water from the inside after each use.
- Don’t overpack the cooler; leave room for cold air flow.
- Pre-chill the cooler with ice for optimal cooling.
- Use block ice for longer cooling compared to small cubes.
- Limit opening the lid to retain cold air.
- Store it open and empty when not in use.
Properly caring for your Yeti will ensure it lasts for many years and camping trips! Be gentle with the plastic and keep it away from excessive heat.
FAQ About Microwaving Yeti Coolers
Here are some frequently asked questions about the risks of trying to microwave Yeti coolers:
Can I microwave a Yeti cooler to clean or disinfect it?
No, you should never put a Yeti cooler in the microwave for any reason. The plastic and insulation are not designed for microwave use. Microwaving will damage the cooler.
What if I microwave it for just 10–20 seconds?
Even a short time in the microwave is unsafe. The thick plastic walls can quickly absorb too much heat and energy. Stick to hand washing with mild detergent and water.
Could microwaving start a fire inside the microwave or cooler?
Yes, it’s possible. Overheating of the plastic and insulation can cause sparks, melting, and fire. The concentrated heat of a microwave is too intense for a durable cooler.
If I microwave my Yeti briefly, will it still work okay?
Probably not. Even a quick microwaving is likely to warp, peel, or crack the interior. Insulation strength will be diminished. Don’t risk it.
Can metal parts like hinges or latches go in the microwave?
Definitely not! Metal + microwave = a very bad idea. The metal will spark, damage the microwave, and likely start a fire. Never microwave any metal.
What temperature can a Yeti handle safely?
Yeti coolers are designed to handle temperatures from -13°F to 195°F. Anything beyond that hot or cold extreme can damage the plastic. The concentrated heat of a microwave exceeds safe usage.
Should I microwave other insulated coolers?
No, heavy insulation isn’t meant for microwave use. Even if you’re not a Yeti, thick insulating layers pose overheating risks. Only microwave containers are designed for it.
So in summary, keep your Yeti out of the microwave entirely! Use and care for it properly, and a Yeti can be a durable cooler companion for many years without needing to be microwaved.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.