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23 Summer Life Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

Save time and money this summer with these homemade hacks for cleaning, organizing, and keeping bugs at bay.

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summer hacks pool toys
iStock/Dmitry Oshchepkov

Bleach sanitizes pool toys

Dip a sponge into a mixture of two cups of bleach and one gallon of water, then wipe down pool noodles and beach balls. Scrub off grime with a brush, and rinse with water. This is one of the ways you’re not using bleach—but should.

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summer hacks patio furniture

Vinegar brightens patio furniture

Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, and spritz over chairs and tables to remove mildew stains and prevent mold from forming.

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summer hacks coffee grounds

Coffee grounds banish ants

Sprinkle some grounds near doorways. Coffee’s high nitrogen content burns bugs, so they won’t walk across it and into your home. Did you know that coffee has a lot more unusual uses that you didn’t know before?

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summer hacks flip-flops

Flip-flops become doorstops

Cut a wedge of rubber from an old thong and use it to prop open a door and let the summer breeze in.

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summer hacks bugs

Dryer sheets repel bugs

Keep sheets of this laundry staple in a cup outdoors—they mask the human scent that attracts mosquitoes.

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summer hacks grill
iStock/Sawayasu Tsuji

Foil cleans the grill

While the coals are still red-hot, lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the grates and close the grill’s lid. The next time you grill, crumple up the foil and use it to scrub off the burned residue before you start cooking. Don’t forget to browse these summer solstice facts to learn more about the longest day of the year.

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summer hacks ice cream cone

Foil also catches ice cream cone drips

Keep little kiddos from making a mess of their clothes or your house by wrapping the bottom of an ice-cream cone (or a wedge of watermelon) with a piece of aluminum foil before handing it to them. Here’s how you can make ice cream in a bag with your kids this summer.

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Low Section Of Child On Sand
Antje Micheel / EyeEm/Getty Images

Baby powder gives beach sand the brush-off

How many times have you had a family member return from a day at the beach only to discover that a good portion of the beach is now dusting your dining room floor? Minimize the mess by sprinkling some baby powder over sweaty, sand-covered kids (and adults) before they enter the house. In addition to soaking up excess moisture, the powder makes sand incredibly easy to brush off. Want to know more uses? Find out how baby powder helps in gardening.

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High angle view of sisters playing in wading pool on wood
Cavan Images/Getty Images

Bathtub appliqués make a kiddie pool less slippery

A few bathtub appliqués applied to the floor of a kiddie pool will make it a lot less slippery for little feet and help prevent falls, especially if water play turns rowdy. You can also put a couple along the edges of the pool to give kids easy places to grip onto. By the way—this is what the summer solstice means for your zodiac.

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Poptop aluminum can
Brandon Goldman/Getty Images

Bubble pack keeps soda cold

Wrap soft-drink cans with bubble pack to keep beverages refreshingly cold on hot summer days. Do the same for packages of frozen or chilled picnic foods. You can wrap ice cream just before you leave for the picnic to keep it firm en route.

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Family setting up tent
Dean Mitchell/Getty Images

Cat litter keeps tents must-free

Keep tents and sleeping bags smelling fresh and free of must when not in use. Pour cat litter into an old sock, tie the end, and store inside the bag or tent. Did you know that kitty litter can keep your windows from fogging up?

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summer hacks oysters

Club soda helps shuck oysters

If you love oysters but find shucking them to be near-impossible, try soaking them in club soda before you shuck. The oysters won’t exactly jump out of their shells, but they will be much easier to open. You could use this tip if you’re planning a party for the first day of summer that has oysters on the menu.

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summer hacks toilet paper
iStock/Giorgio Fochesato

Coffee cans keep toilet paper dry when camping

Bring a few empty coffee cans with you on your next camping trip. Use them to keep toilet paper dry in rainy weather or when you carry supplies in a canoe or boat.

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Cropped Hand Washing Car Windshield
Nicole Lienemann / EyeEm/Getty Images

Cooking spray de-bugs your car

When bugs smash into your car at 55 miles per hour, they really stick. Give your grille a spritz of nonstick cooking spray so you can just wipe away the insect debris. Prep your car for the heat with these other summer car tips you should know.

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summer hacks marshmallows
iStock/Anthony Rosenberg

Cornstarch unsticks marshmallows

Ever buy a bag of marshmallows only to find them stuck together? No good for your s’mores-craving crowd. Add at least 1 teaspoon cornstarch to the bag and shake. The cornstarch will absorb the extra moisture and force most of the marshmallows apart. Repackage the remaining marshmallows in a container and freeze them to avoid sticking in the future.

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Juice stained hand holding freshly picked wild blackberries
Photos by R A Kearton/Getty Images

Lemon juice removes berry stains from hands

Sure it was fun to pick your own berries, but now your fingers are stained with berry juice that won’t come off with soap and water. Try washing your hands with undiluted lemon juice. Wait a few minutes and wash with warm, soapy water. Repeat if necessary until the stain is completely gone. Here are some other things you need to be cleaning with lemons.

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summer hacks corn on the cobb
iStock/Tatiana Volgutova

Milk boosts corn on the cob flavor

Here’s a simple way to make corn on the cob taste sweeter and fresher. Just add 1/4 cup powdered milk to the pot of boiling water before you toss in the corn.

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summer hacks luggage

Newspaper deodorizes luggage and containers

Do you have a plastic container or wooden box with a persistent, unpleasant odor? Stuff a few sheets of crumbled newspaper and seal it closed for three or four days. You can also use this technique to deodorize trunks and suitcases (using more newspaper, of course). By the way, here are a few fascinating summer solstice traditions from around the world.

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Baseball Glove Holding Softball
terminator1/Getty Images

Olive oil reconditions an old baseball mitt

If your beloved, aging baseball glove is showing signs of wear and tear (cracking and hardening of the leather), you can give it a second lease on life with an occasional olive oil rubdown. Just work the oil into the dry areas of the glove with a soft cloth, let it set for 30 minutes, then wipe off any excess. Your game may not improve, but at least it won’t be your glove’s fault.

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summer hacks beach chairs
iStock/Dean Turner

Paintbrushes clean off beach chairs

Keep a clean, dry paintbrush in your car for those return trips from the beach. Use it to remove sand from beach chairs, towels, toys, the kids, and even yourself before you open the car door or trunk. You’ll wind up with a lot less to vacuum the next time your clean your vehicle.

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African child inspects bug in glass jar in his garden
AfricaImages/Getty Images

Pantyhose cover a kid’s bug jar

What child doesn’t like to catch fireflies (and hopefully release them) on a warm summer night? When making a bug jar for your youngster, don’t bother using a hammer and nail to punch holes in the jar’s metal lid. It’s much easier to cut a five- or six-inch square from an old pair of pantyhose and affix it to the jar with a rubber band. The nylon cover lets plenty of air enter the jar and makes it easier to get the bugs in and out. Love summertime activities? Check out these 20 amazing things that only happen during the sunny season.

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summer hacks outdoor candleholder

A toilet plunger serves as an outdoor candleholder

Looking for a place to put one of those bug-deterring citronella candles? Plant a plunger handle (use a new plunger, please!) in the ground and put the candle in the rubber cup.

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Low Section Of Man Standing On Yellow Concrete Footpath
Brad Hefferon / EyeEm/Getty Images

Salt deodorizes sneakers

Sneakers and other canvas shoes can get pretty smelly, especially if you wear them without socks in the summertime. Knock down the odor and soak up moisture by occasionally sprinkling a little salt in your canvas shoes. Next, check out what summer looked like 50 years ago.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest