No Air Conditioner? No Sweat! Build A DIY Swamp Cooler

Different typed of DIY Swamp Coolers


Originally pusblished July 28, 2022

A heat wave is on the way in Eastern Washington. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, building a DIY swamp cooler is an affordable alternative to cooling down your home and staying safe. Follow this simple tutorial. Feel free to substitute supplies as needed and experiment with the design.

Step 1: Gather supplies

  • Plastic or Foam Bucket with a Lid (around a 5 gallon bucket)
  • Small Desktop Fan
  • Cloth (breathable or porous material)
  • Drill or Razor to cut the bucket
  • Adhesive Material (hot glue, tape or caulk)
  • Cold Water
  • Ice Cubes (optional)

Step 2: Fit the fan into the lid of the bucket.

Measure the diameter of the fan and cut a circle in the bucket lid. The fan should fit snugly and not fall through. Slip the fan into the hole and secure it with adhesive. Make adjustments so the cable of the fan can still function. 

Fan should be well fitted to the lid of the bucket

Step 3: Prepare the body of the bucket.

 Cut holes out of the top half of the bucket.  Cut one large hole on the front for concentrated cooling in one direction. Cut holes around the entire perimeter of the bucket for  ambient cooling. Cut or drill your holes into the upper half of the bucket so that the water level will sit just below them. Do not cut hole in the bottom half of the bucket.

Step 4: Cover the holes with cloth.

Secure the cloth on the inside of the bucket, covering the holes. Part of the cloth should reach the bottom of the bucket. This will allow the cloth to soak up cold water. The fan will pass air through the cold, wet cloth which creates the cooling effect.

Step 5: Add cold water.

Add cold water and ice (if you have it) to the bucket filling it just below the holes in the side. Refill with cold water and ice as needed. Alternatively, a frozen gallon jug of water can be placed inside the bucket, this would make clean up and refilling easier.

Step 6: Try it out!

Secure the lid of the bucket and turn on the fan. Let the cooling begin. 

Another option is to add a Styrofoam insert or PVC pipe to the holed of the bucket to make it more effective. On hot days it is important to stay cool, hydrated, and out of the sun whenever possible. If the cooling effect of the swamp cooler is not sufficient and you are at risk of heat illness, seek cooling in a cooling shelter. Call 211 to be connected with a cooling shelter in your area.