Pop Goes the Mess
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!
Related: 9 DIY Ideas for a Summery Backyard
An Even Cooler Cooler
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: 7 Tricks for Keeping Cool Without AC
Number One Fan
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.
This homemade drink dispenser packs a one-two punch of fun and function in an unlikely vessel: a watermelon. 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.
Nothing kills a party faster than a shortage of ice-cold drinks. Luckily, it takes mere moments to serve drinks chilled to perfection. Wrap a wet paper towel around a lukewarm bottle of vino, beer, or water, and place the bottle in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bottle, then just pop the cork or lid to serve up toast-worthy libations—and keep the party going!
Genius in a Bottle
A nondescript shampoo or lotion bottle is the perfect disguise for a beachside carryall. When strategically hollowed out, 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.
The Seven-Week Itch
Itching to spend the summer outside? Many mosquito encounters later, you might wish you'd 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!
All Fired Up
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 Torch method, cut four quadrants into the top of a log. Fill the grooves with kindling, and then light it up for an evening of outdoor fun.
Brush It Off
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 you from having to vigorously scrape the grate with a grill brush.
Even sun worshippers with a diligent sunscreen routine can get burned. Fortunately, you can have a natural fix waiting right in your fridge. Pour pure aloe vera juice (available at most drugstores) into an ice tray, and then freeze it for an always ready-to-apply salve for sunburns.
Related: 5 Things to Do with… Ice Cubes
Don’t recycle that do-nothing cardboard six-pack container! Repurpose it into this easy-to-carry condiment caddy. To complete the transformation, adhere contact paper to the sides of a six-pack carrier. Then, fill the compartments with condiments, napkins, and other fixings for a scrumptious summer barbecue.
Need to sneak away from the family for some "me time"? Look to this homemade 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.
All Bundled Up
Picnic baskets are so passé compared with this modern-day bindle for summer gatherings. To copy, place silverware, snacks, and other dining 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, just unpack it for an instant spread—picnic blanket included.
Even an impeccably planned alfresco dining experience can go awry when flies land on the main course. Give the pesky intruders the boot with a dynamic duo of fruits and spices. Half an hour before serving time, adorn the table with bowls of lemon halves topped with cloves to ensure a pest-proof party.
Bag of Tricks
This summer, try packing a mess-free chiller in your child’s lunch box or picnic pack. Freeze a clean dish sponge in a ziplock 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.
Slapping a shade on the dashboard does little to deter the sun’s rays from raising the temperature inside your car to sauna-like levels. The real cure for a hot car? Open and close a door five to six times to expel the hot air and invite a cool, comfortable breeze to join you on your summer road trip.
When the matchbox is empty and you need a rapid-fire technique to start a fire, look no further for kindling than a bag of Doritos or other chips. Good for more than satisfying a snack craving, the triangular treats can feed a fledgling fire, thanks to their high fat content.
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.
Just like other foodstuffs that spend too long hibernating in the fridge, ice cream can fall victim to freezer burn. Fortunately for frugal ice cream lovers, a little care can keep your frozen delight safe from this scourge. Simply store your ice cream cartons in ziplock bags to keep them as soft and easy to scoop as they were the day you bought them.
Cold, Hard Truth
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 side 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.
Relief from the Heat
With these great hacks, you'll stay cool even when the temperature soars.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!