6 Things That Get Extra Dirty During the Summer — And How to Keep Them Clean

published Jun 26, 2022
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Summertime is full of so many fun activities unique to the season. From pool fun and road trips to vacations and beach days, there’s barely enough time to soak up all the summer activities we love. 

The season also comes with a whole set of gear. Keeping on top of summer dirt and clutter is an important part of making sure you have as much time as possible to enjoy all the good family stuff. This way, you won’t have to deal with even bigger messes later and everything will be ready to go the next time you need it. 

In my experience as a busy mom of five, here are six things that get extra dirty or messy in the summer, and how I keep them clean and organized: 

Sunscreen Containers

Putting sunscreen on at the soccer fields or the pool doesn’t get the containers that dirty. At most, they’ll have some smeared-on sunscreen on them, which you can easily wipe off with a rag. But once you take said sunscreen to the beach? Super messy. Stuck-on sand makes sunscreen containers unpleasant to handle, and if the sand gets in face sticks or bottles of lotion, applying sunscreen is scratchy. And if you’re applying sandy sunscreen to kids, well, your day may be off to a screaming start. Once sunscreen containers get sandy, you’ll be transferring that sand to every other bag you use. To prevent sunscreen applications that feel like sandpaper and to keep sand from spreading, take your post-beach sunscreens straight out of your bag and set them in the shower or bath tub. Rinse them off and leave them out to dry before putting them back where they go.

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Sandy Beach Bags

Again with the sand. It’s wonderful to sink your toes into, but it isn’t wonderful all over your floors. Make it a habit to shake sand out of your bag before you bring it into the house, if possible. Empty it out and then shake the bag out over your front lawn or outdoor area. If you must bring it inside, shake it over the garbage can once it’s empty. Some beach bags, like the Bogg bag I just bought (and love!) can be rinsed out, which is extra convenient. 

Inflatable Pools

Inflatable pools bring the soothing coolness of water into your yard or patio, but they can be a pain to keep clean. Ewww, mildew. The best thing to do is to keep them inflated so they can dry thoroughly in the sun before you deflate them and put them away. If you end up with mold issues anyway, you can spray with white vinegar and water and leave it out in the sun, or you can mix a half-and-half solution of bleach and water and apply with a soft scrub brush. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water from a hose. Be advised that bleach will likely fade your inflatable’s colors, but mold will too, eventually. Other grime can be cleaned from your inflatable with a Magic Eraser (just don’t rub too hard). 

Soggy Towels

Soggy towels seem to come from every direction in the summer. Whether it’s water day at summer camp, a beach or pool day, or a towel used to mop up wet footprints from the floor after a run through the sprinklers, summer always means wet towel pileups. The best place for them is in the washing machine (or the dryer if they’re not too dirty). Except when you’re actively doing other laundry, make it a habit to toss wet towels straight into the washing machine. Otherwise, they’ll be sitting around your house or car or bag getting musty, and that is not the kind of towel you want to bring next time you go out for some fun. 

Miscellaneous Water Gear

Dealing with goggles, flip flops, swimsuit cover ups, hats, and all the other stuff of summer fun is a job. The very worst part is trying to gather it all when you’re headed out to a pool party or a few hours on the lake. One great way to prevent this is to have one designated spot at home for all these kinds of items. It could be a cubby in the mudroom or a specific bag that’s always packed and ready to go. This method works whether you’re managing gear for just yourself or for your entire family; you’ll just have to adjust the size of your storage space or bag, of course. To ensure that this method works, have everyone (yourself included!) put their gear back each and every time they return from an outing. Pro tip: I like to separate types of miscellaneous items into their own waterproof pouches. 


Coolers come along for so many summer outings, and they often have the dirt to show for it too! The easiest way to clean coolers is to leave them outside if you can and empty them out there. Toss any trash, put any leftovers that are still good in the fridge, let out any melted ice, and then rinse your cooler, inside and out, with a hose. Leave it to dry in the sun, and if you feel it’s necessary, wipe out the interior with a disinfecting wipe. 

Which summer messes have you learned how to conquer or control? Tell me about it in the comments!

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 6 Things That Get Extra Dirty (and Messy) in the Summer — and How to Keep Them Clean