campsite at sunrise

19 Hacks to Keep Cool When It’s Super Hot Outdoors

Whatever you have planned—the beach, pool, campground, your own backyard, or pretty much staying indoors—these summer tips, tricks, hacks, and DIYs are sure to offer a sigh of relief to help you do anytime-of-year heat waves like a champ!


Run Cold Water Over Your Wrists

Here’s a little anatomy lesson: Pulse points are the parts of your body where blood vessels are closest to the surface of your skin. If you can cool your blood at these vulnerable points, it will recirculate into the central part of your body and cool you down. Try running cold water over your wrists, right where you can feel your pulse. It really works, and quickly.

Carefully Choose What to Wear

A black top and your favorite pair of jeans is not the outfit you want to be wearing on a 90ºF day! Stick with loose-fitting light-colored clothing made from natural, breathable fabric like cotton or linen. It makes all the difference.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods such as ginger, coconut oil, brown rice, garlic, and cayenne pepper are some of the foods that naturally increase one’s body heat. And you’d be smart to save that big bowl of soup for a chilly summer evening or crisp fall day.

Foods that Cool

If those foods warm you up, are they any that will actually cool you down? There are and they’re the ones that contain a lot of water and help to keep you hydrated: cucumbers, mango, cilantro, watermelon, zucchini, and pineapple should top your summer grocery list.

Fire Starters

You’ll never worry about getting your campfire started when you pack a few of these nifty absolutely free fire-starters: Tightly stuff the empty cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper with dryer lint! That’s it. Dryer lint catches fire easily and the cardboard roll will keep it lit long enough to start the firewood, too.

campsite at sunrise

Keep the Sun Out

If you’re opening windows to allow some air to cool your home, it’s important to know where the sun is. In the morning while it is still cool, close all windows and blinds that face the east and south side of the house–and open all windows on the west and north side. This will allow air to come in without having the sun’s intense rays heat up your space. Reverse this tactic in the late afternoon to keep things cool will be a breeze.

Put a Ceiling Fan to Work

If you’re using a ceiling fan to cool your space (if you don’t have one, you should consider it), make sure that the direction of the fan blades is blowing the air down and not up. Fans don’t actually lower the temperature in a room, but the air currents flowing over your body help to keep your personal temp nice and cool.

Natural Mosquito Repellant

Here’s a charming way to persuade mosquitos to stay away from the picnic table. Cut a lemon or lime in half then press whole cloves into the cut surface of each half. Place the studded citrus around the food. Mosquitos hate that spicy fragrance, but you and your guests won’t. What’s more, this makes for a pretty addition to the table.

studded lemon lime cloves

Seashell Bags

Use mesh laundry bags or even a plastic mesh onion sack for gathering shells at the beach. They’re strong and waterproof, and they sift out most of the sand by themselves. Rinse the bag and its contents under an outdoor faucet and you won’t get a speck of sand in the car or house.

Pack a Fitted Sheet

Take a fitted bed sheet with you to the beach. Do this first thing once you locate your spot. Spread out the sheet and turn up the corners and place something heavy in each one (the cooler, food basket, etc.) This will keep it spread out and all of your gear (and you, too) corralled and free of sand without having to make sure you’re lying on a small towel.

Barbecue Cover

Fold an old vinyl tablecloth in half and sew up the sides to make a cover for your outdoor barbecue grill.

Stay Hydrated the Right Way

Try to avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, as both of those liquids tend to raise your body temperature. And yes, even iced coffee can turn up the heat. So if you’re really hot, good ole water will help cool you down and keep you hydrated. Tip: throw in mint, cucumber, or lemon to add a little flavor!

Credit: Pinterest

Pocket Safe

Sew a coordinating washcloth to a beach towel along three sides and use hook and loop (like Velcro®) tape fasteners to close the fourth. Now you and your kids have an instant pocket for keys, coins, or sunscreen lotion.

Sand-Free Electronics

Stick your smartphone, iPad, CD player, or other electronics inside a zip-type plastic bag and close it up. This will protect your phone from sunscreen, water, sand, and all manner of other outdoor hazards. Now, whenever that device lands in an environment that’s probably not great for phones, it will be safe. The touchscreen works well even when it’s in the bag. And don’t worry about the phone overheating any more than you worry about that when it’s not in a bag. Regardless, it is a good idea to keep all electronics out of direct sun.

Feet, Too

Keep a container of baby powder in your beach bag. Before the kids get back into the car or walk into the house, sprinkle a bit on their legs and feet. Now just a quick rubdown will leave all of that sand at the beach with none of it in the car or house.


Will It Float?

Attach a cork to your key ring when you go boating, or to any other lightweight item you’d rather not sink to the bottom of the lake should you accidentally drop it in. Answer: Yes, corks float.

key on a cork

Crystal-Free Ice Cream

This is not only a summer hack but one you’ll use year-round. Before you put that container of ice cream into the freezer, put the whole thing with the lid securely in place into a gallon-size ziplock freezer bag and zip it shut. For some unknown reason, even if the container is only partially full, it will not form crystals. No freezer burn!

Carry a Personal Fan

Small fans can pack a big punch. If you don’t have immediate access to water or aren’t near a fridge to grab a chill-pack, blast a portable, compact, battery-operated fan on the back of your neck. It’s handy to keep one in your purse, bag, or car all summer long.

Cold as Ice Water Bottles

Tired of trying to melt ice cubes to get them to fit into your water bottle before heading outdoors? Do this: Fill your bottle partway with water the night before. Put the bottle in the freezer, but instead of standing up, lay it on its side. Now you’ll have all the ice you need inside but plenty of room to add fresh water to fill it up.


Question: What is your favorite hack, tip, or trick to keep cool when it’s super hot? Please share it in the comments below. (Remember, no off-topic questions or personal promotion. Comments are moderated and it may take us a while to get to yours, so be patient. Thanks! Team EC)


Updated and republished: 8-30-23

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8 replies
  1. Nancy says:

    Use a thin handtowl dip in cold water put around neck. Keeps me cool and gives me something to wipe my face with when hands are dirty.

  2. Linda Winget says:

    Thanks for the suggestions. Oh and by the way here in Louisiana we had 2 weeks of around 105 degrees with 80 – 90 % humidity. Brutal.

  3. Red says:

    When we used to do wilderness canoe trips we learned that the best way to insure ziplock bags didn’t leak was to double bag the items. Most of the time we were trying to keep wet in and we were surprised at how leaks did get out of the inner bag! Slowly, for sure but there were nearly always leaks.

  4. Margie says:

    on the really hot days here in the DC area, i put an old dish towel damp w/cold water around my neck and it stays nice and cool for my long walks; tucking it inside my shirt keeps it from slipping or moving around.

  5. K. Martin says:

    When the weather starts turning too hot for hot coffee, I switch to iced tea in the mornings. It’s not as caffeinated as coffee but still has enough to help wake me up in the morning and also eliminates the caffeine-withdrawal headache one gets when going “cold turkey” off coffee.

  6. Kevin says:

    Regarding your tip “Will it float?”, a traditional style fishing bobber (red and white) should work too.

  7. Polly says:

    I use a lot of these tips! Also a great idea is freezing a mostly full bottle of water to use in your cooler. It doesn’t melt and get every thing wet and bonus, when most everything else is gone, the water is still nice and cold for the trip home!
    When we used to do canoe trips, we would put the wallet and car keys in a Tupperware container with a string long enough to tie to the canoe and into the waterproof seal of the Tupperware (only round are truly waterproof) that way if you tip the canoe, the container is tied to the canoe!
    Also, a gentle fan aimed at the food table keeps flies from landing.


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