30 Summer Hacks You Need in Your Life ASAP

When it's this hot outside, we need all the shortcuts we can get! See how Ziploc bags, pool noodles, grapes, and Doritos can make your summer easier—and cooler—than ever.
Man spending summer vacations at home, he is cooling himself with electric fans and sitting on a deckchair


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Summer is a season of sunshine, adventures, and relaxation, but it also brings its fair share of challenges, from scorching temperatures to pesky mosquitoes. Navigate hot-weather nuisances with these ingenious life hacks that will help you breeze through the summer months with ease. Whether you’re hoping to master the art of outdoor cooking or simply trying to stay cool without running up your electricity bill, these tips are bound to enhance your summer.

1. Use Cupcake Liners to Avoid Popsicle Messes

Girl eating popsicle protected with cupcake liner

Summer wouldn’t be the same without ice pops—but where there are frozen treats, there are sticky fingers…until now. This ingenious solution for enjoying summer’s sweetest treat without all the mess requires only one thing: a cupcake liner. Positioned at the base of an ice pop, the liner catches falling juice so your hands and clothes don’t have to!

2. Cool Down With a Makeshift AC

Still blasting your air conditioner on high and paying the price? Here’s a more energy- and cost-efficient alternative: Fill a styrofoam cooler with ice, then mount two dryer vents and a fan in slots cut into the top. Hot air pulled into the cooler will emerge from the vents cool, crisp, and ultra-comfortable.

RELATED: 10 Tricks for Keeping Cool Without AC

3. Reverse Your Ceiling Fan’s Direction

Close up of a hand holding a remote control aiming to ceiling fan. High resolution 42Mp indoors digital capture taken with SONY A7rII and Zeiss Batis 40mm F2.0 CF lens

Switching the direction of your ceiling fan’s rotation in the summer can yield sky-high energy savings. Run fans counterclockwise in the sweltering season to optimize energy use. When Old Man Winter knocks, reverse the fans to circulate warm air and help keep the heating bills down.

4. Serve Drinks in a Fruit “Keg”

A watermelon may sound like an odd drink dispenser, but trust us—it packs a one-two punch of fun and function. Here’s what to do: Hollow out a watermelon, slice off the top, and pierce the side with a spigot. Then, fill the “keg” with your favorite punch and replace the lid to keep the drinks—and the conversation—flowing.

RELATED: 18 Inspiring Ideas for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

5. Chill Bottles With a Wet Paper Towel

wet paper towel wrapped around champagne bottle in freezer

Nothing kills a summer party faster than a shortage of ice-cold drinks. Fortunately, it takes mere moments to chill beverages to perfection. Wrap a wet paper towel around a lukewarm bottle of wine, beer, or water, and place the bottle in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bottle, and then just pop the cork or lid to keep your guests refreshed.

6. Hide Your Valuables in a Sunscreen Bottle

A nondescript shampoo or lotion bottle is the perfect disguise for a beachside carryall. When it’s strategically hollowed out (and rinsed, of course), it can shelter keys, cards, or cash in plain sight. Grab an empty bottle and some scissors, cut a hole at the top of the bottle wide enough for your valuables to fit through, fill it with your personal effects, and snap the lid back on to create a secret stash that thieves will never think to raid.

7. Treat Bug Bites With Toothpaste

Putting toothpaste on a bug bite

Itching to spend the summer outside? Many mosquito encounters later, you might wish you had stayed indoors—unless you’ve soothed your scratching with this remedy for bug bites. Dab a dot of toothpaste onto a bug bite to reduce the itchiness and swelling, and get back to the great outdoors!

RELATED: 13 Time-Tested Tricks for a Bug-Free Backyard

8. Build a Campfire From a Single Log

Swedish torch lit in the darkness

If you’re a few logs shy of a campfire this summer, fuel the flames with this single-log fire pit that doubles as a grill. Using the Swedish fire torch method, cut an X into the top of a log. Fill the grooves with kindling, and then light it up for an evening of outdoor fun.

9. Clean The Grill With an Onion

Cleaning grill grates with onion

Tossed onto a hot grill, fresh onions are great for more than a savory kebab. The pungent bulb can also help clean the grill itself. Simply rub onion halves over a hot grate to loosen and lift food residue, and save yourself the effort of scraping the grate with a grill brush.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Grill Brushes

10. Soothe Sunburn by Freezing Aloe Juice

Even sun worshippers with a diligent sunscreen routine can get burned. Fortunately, you can keep a natural pain reliever in the freezer. Pour pure aloe vera juice (available at most drugstores) into an ice cube tray, and then freeze it for an always ready-to-apply salve for sunburns.

11. Stash Your Condiments in 6-Packs

Six Pack turned into condiment caddy

Don’t recycle your cardboard beer 6-pack container! Instead, repurpose it into an easy-to-tote condiment caddy. To complete the transformation, decorate the sides of the carrier with contact paper. Then, fill the compartments with condiments, napkins, and other fixings for a scrumptious summer barbecue.

RELATED: 21 Brilliant Hacks for an Organized Kitchen

12. Make a Hammock From a Sheet and Rope

Need to sneak away from the family for some “me time”? Look to this homemade DIY hammock for a dose of serenity and solitude in your own backyard. Assembly is simple: Tie lengths of rope to the ends of a sheet to cocoon yourself in comfort.

RELATED: How to Hang a Hammock

13. Bundle Up Your Picnic With a Blanket

bundling up picnic in a blanket

Picnic baskets are so passé compared with this modern-day bindle for summer gatherings. To put one together yourself, place silverware, snacks, and other noshing necessities in the center of your favorite picnic blanket. Tie opposite corners of the fabric to pack up your portable feast and tote it to the beach or park. Then, when you’ve reached the perfect spot, just unpack it for an instant spread—picnic blanket included.

RELATED: 14 Picnic Table Plans for the Best Backyard Barbecue

14. Trap Flies With Lemon and Cloves

Even an impeccably planned alfresco dining experience can go awry when flies invade the main course. Give the pesky intruders the boot with a dynamic duo of fruits and spices. Half an hour before serving time, place bowls of lemon halves topped with cloves on the table to ensure a pest-proof party.

RELATED: 15 DIY Solutions for a Pest-Free Home

15. Keep Your Lunch Cool With Frozen Sponges

frozen sponges in plastic bags

Sending loved ones off with packed lunches while it’s hot out? Pack a mess-free chiller in your child’s lunch box or picnic pack. Freeze a clean dish sponge in a Ziploc bag. As the water melts, the sponge will absorb it, leaving sandwiches and snacks fresh and crisp. Best of all, this ice pack can be refrozen to use the next day so you can keep food cool all season long.

RELATED: 10 Things You Didn’t Know a Sponge Can Do

16. Lower Your Car’s Temp With This Car Door Trick

Slapping a shade on the dashboard does little to deter the sun’s rays from raising the temperature inside your car. The real cure for a hot car? Open and close the car door five to six times to expel the hot air and invite a cool, comfortable breeze to join you on your ride.

17. Start a Campfire With a Dorito

bag of torilla chips and box of matches on the table
Photo: dejan Jekic from Getty Images

When the matchbox is empty and you need to get a fire going quickly, look no further for kindling than a bag of Doritos (or other tortilla chips). Good for more than satisfying a snack craving, the triangular treats can feed a fledgling fire thanks to their high fat content.

RELATED: No Money to Burn? 15 Fire Pits You Can Actually Afford

18. Water Your Container Plants With Wine Bottles

Call on this wine bottle nanny before you leave for vacation—not to tend to your kids, but your nursery! Once you’ve drilled a hole through the cap or cork, fill the bottle with water and place it upside down in a potted plant. The makeshift caretaker will offer a steady supply of water to a plant’s thirsty roots.

19. Bag Ice Cream to Prevent Freezer Burn

Pint of ice cream in plastic bag in freezer

Just like other foods that spend too long hibernating in the fridge, ice cream can succumb to freezer burn. Fortunately, a little care can keep your frozen delight safe from this scourge. Simply store your ice cream containers in Ziploc bags to keep their contents soft and easy to scoop as they were the day you bought them.

RELATED: 11 Seriously Surprising Uses for a Ziploc Bag

20. Freeze Water Bottles on Their Sides to Keep Drinks Cold

The only thing that can make a boiling-hot day worse is trying to quench your thirst with lukewarm water. To keep this from happening to you, fill some water bottles halfway, then lay them on their sides in the freezer. When it’s time for a cool drink, grab a bottle, fill it up with your beverage of choice, and let the wall of ice in the bottle keep your drink perfectly chilled—and refreshing—for hours.

21. Create a Floating Koozie Out of a Pool Noodle

Woman sitting on pool noodle with drink holder

When it comes to poolside refreshments, the buoyant pool noodle is a game changer. All you’ll need is a knife, glue gun, pencil, four popsicle sticks, and your pool noodle.

  1. Measure the length of your soda can against the noodle with a 2-inch overlap (this will give you enough room to grab your drink with ease).
  2. Mark the noodle with the pencil.
  3. Trace the bottom end of your soda can on the base of your pool noodle and use a knife to hollow our the middle, being cautious not to cut through the sides! Your drink should slide directly into the coozie-like holder.
  4. Next, cut another piece of noodle that’s approximately the length of two soda cans. Using the knife, slice it directly down the middle lengthwise to make two halves.
  5. Lay the two halves next to each other with the flat side down and use your coozie to trace a circle in the middle of the two halves.
  6. Use your knife to cut out the new circle. Make sure your drink fits snuggly in the hole.
  7. Glue the popsicle sticks to the flat side of the noodle halves to hold the two pieces together. Stick your koozie in the hole and enjoy your refreshing beverage right from the pool.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Above-Ground Pools

22. Remove Sand With Baby Powder

If you’re covered with sticky sand at the beach, removing it with baby powder works like a charm. Let the sand dry a bit, then sprinkle a generous amount of baby powder on your skin, focusing on those crevices where sand tends to collect. Rub it in to wipe off the excess sand, and then go frolic on the beach without the annoyance of clingy grains.

23. Create a DIY Speaker With a Paper Cup

Looking to crank up the tunes at your next outdoor gathering? Just grab a paper cup that’s wide enough to fit your phone, a couple of pencils, and a hot glue gun, and use this nifty trick to transform it into a makeshift speaker.

  1. Cut a small slit in the side of the paper cup.
  2. Slide your phone through the slit, ensuring that the speaker sits inside the cup.
  3. Hot glue the two pencils to the sides of the cup to keep it steady on the surface.

The cup will act as a sound amplifier, channeling the music and projecting it outward. All you have to do is press play to get the party started!

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Outdoor Speakers

24. Chill Your Drinks With Frozen Grapes

Frozen grapes in a drink

When the summer heat is blazing and you’re low on ice, let grapes step up as nature’s mini ice cubes to keep your drinks refreshingly cool. Pop a few handfuls of grapes in the freezer until they’re nice and frosty, then when it’s time for a drink, simply drop a few of them into your glass. Not only will they keep your drink pleasantly chilled, but as they slowly thaw, they will infuse a subtle fruity flavor—a win-win!

25. Use Magnets to Hang Grill Utensils Within Reach

If you’re tired of fumbling around for your grill utensils while you’re flipping burgers, harness the magic of magnets by adding a magnetic strip to the side of the grill. Repositionable magnetic tape from Scotch will hold full sets of grilling or cooking tools, providing easy access and convenient storage for your spatula, tongs, and other grilling essentials.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The 13 Best Grilling Accessories

26. DIY a Bird Feeder From a Plastic Bottle

A closeup of a homemade plastic bottle bird feeder filled with bird seed hanging outside of an urban apartment building in New York City

Want to attract feathered friends to your backyard? Craft a fun and functional bird feeder from a plastic bottle. Start by rinsing out a plastic bottle and removing any labels. Make small holes near the bottom so birds can access the seeds, then insert a wooden dowel or stick through the bottle to create a perch for the birds. Fill the bottle with birdseed and secure the cap. Hang it from a tree branch or hook, and watch as colorful visitors flock to enjoy their food.

27. Make a DIY Doorstop Out of a Pool Noodle

On those windy summer days when exterior doors often slam shut, the versatile pool noodle can help. Simply slice it in half lengthwise and wedge one half under the edge of the door to create a soft and cushiony barrier. The noodle’s flexibility makes it the perfect doorstop, preventing doors from slamming shut and locking you out while you’re enjoying the outdoors.

RELATED: Solved! How to Prevent Doors From Slamming

28. Protect Packed Clothing With a Shower Cap

Shoe and Shower cap Packing Bag for a Weekend travel

To keep your summer travels squeaky clean, slip your shoes into separate shower caps before placing them in your luggage. This will keep your clothes and other belongings pristine and protect them from any shoe-related odors.

29. Strike Dry Matches While Camping

On your summer camping adventures, keep your matches dry and easy to find by storing them in a mason jar. First, take a small piece of sandpaper and attach it securely to the inside of the jar lid (try wedging it between the lid and the band) so you’ll have something sturdy to strike the matches on. Then fill the jar with matches and screw the lid back on. Your matches will stay dry, organized, and ready for a campfire.

RELATED: 8 Backyard Glamping Ideas

30. Carry Photocopies of Your Important Documents While Traveling

"passport, social security, new york state id card. shallow dof."

Embark on your travels with peace of mind by making photocopies of your important documents and storing them separately. Before you set off, make copies of your passport, driver’s license, and any other important papers. Then, stash them in a separate location from the originals—for instance, on a thumb drive or in a secure digital folder (it’s also a good idea to leave copies with a trusted friend or loved one). In case of loss, theft, or even forgetfulness, you’ll have a backup plan and be able to replace your originals more easily.