9 Cool-Down Tips to Beat the Summer Heat

From hydrating to keeping your feet dry, beat the summer heat with our expert tips to help you cool down when temperatures soar.

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How to stay cool in summer

In summer, hot temperatures, humidity, and heat waves are all sweaty reminders that it’s the hottest season of the year. You know to stay hydrated, wear comfortable summer clothing, and use a fan or your air conditioner. However, there are things you may overlook that could make a difference between staying cool and possibly overheating.

To make sure you’re able to cool down even in the hottest days of summer, we spoke with a few experts who offer their tips to beat the heat.

air conditioner

A/C checkup

Don’t wait for the sizzling days of summer to check your air conditioning; have it inspected early to avoid a long and hot delay, waiting for service. “The number one problem we find with air conditioners in the summer is keeping the air filter clean,” says Richard Ciresi, franchisee of the Aire Serv in Louisville, Kentucky. “A dirty, old air filter will force your system to breathe harder than it should, decreasing efficiency and comfort, and increasing your energy bills and carbon footprint.”

If you want to run your A/C more efficiently and effectively, don’t overheat your house with other appliances, says Ciresi. “Use heat-generating appliances like ovens, washers, dryers, and dishwashers in the evening. If you use these appliances in the middle of the day when it’s hottest outside, your cooling system will have to work even harder to cool your home. And don’t place lamps or heat-generating appliances near your thermostat as it will not be able to accurately determine the room temperature and may not run as efficiently as possible.”

Ceiling fans are a helpful addition and can help reduce A/C costs. Remember to switch the blades to a counterclockwise position for the summer months and only run them when someone is in the room. “Running the fan doesn’t lower the temperature, but it does increase evaporation from your skin to help you feel cooler,” says Ciresi.

Keep your feet dry and cool

Hot and sweaty feet are no picnic on a blistering hot day but sometimes flip-flops don’t fit the dress code. The key is to keep your toes dry. “Sweaty feet are more likely to develop athlete’s foot infections, warts, and blisters,” says Joan Oloff, podiatrist and founder of Joan Oloff Shoes. Most people forget to dry between their toes when they get out of the shower or out of the pool. “Just a little bit of moisture can lead to increased sweating through the day,” says Dr. Oloff. (Cooling off in the shower? Just be sure you’re not showering in a thunderstorm.)

When your feet start to sweat, make sure to change your socks right away. Better yet, buy socks that wick away moisture if you’re prone to sweaty feet. Dr. Oloff recommends wearing breathable leather shoes and sandals, rather than ones made of synthetic material. Remember, your feet can get sunburned too, so don’t forget to slather them with sunscreen.

Close-up of woman fitness instructor drinking water
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Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Dehydration can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, and other not-so-pleasant symptoms. “When you sweat, you don’t just lose water but you deplete your body of minerals,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, author of The Magnesium Miracle. “Drink at least half your body weight in pounds, in ounces of water. Put several pinches (up to 1/2 teaspoon) of sea salt or Himalayan salt in each liter of drinking water,” she says. Steer clear of drinks that deplete your body of electrolytes, such as beer, booze, and sugary soda and sports drinks. (You also can replenish your body’s fluids with some hydrating foods.)

woman walking outside in nature
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Work out early or late

If you enjoy a run around lunchtime, you may want to reschedule that for before work or in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day. Reginald Mason, MD, a pulmonary specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Jonesboro, Georgia, recommends keeping your body hydrated before, during, and after your workouts. “If you are exercising for less than an hour, drink 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Substitute a sports drink for water, if your workouts exceed an hour.” (Here are some other benefits of drinking water, besides hydration.)

man drying off sweat after outdoor workout
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Evaporate sweat

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are preventable when proper caution is taken. “A person can suffer from heat exhaustion if they are working or exercising in hot weather and do not drink enough liquids to replace those lost,” says Dr. Mason. “A heat stroke, which is a medical emergency, occurs when the body fails to regulate heat and body temperature rises to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.” Staying hydrated and cool will go a long way when you have to be in the heat.

Consider investing in the Aquabot Sprayer Bottle Top, a  fun water bottle with a hose, mister, and shower feature. Spray a mist of water to cool down your skin, use it to stay hydrated, or use the shower setting to cool yourself head to toe. It’s BPA-free and will fit most wide-mouthed water bottles including favorites such as Nalgene and CamelBak. (High temperatures can also give you a summer cold; here’s how you can avoid getting sick.)

sliced watermelon
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Eat cooling foods

Nothing says summer like a cool wedge of sweet watermelon. “When the sweltering heat of summer kicks in, I like to utilize cooling foods, such as watermelon and mint, to keep hydrated and restore balance and calm to the body’s natural systems,” says Kerri Axelrod, certified holistic health coach. “The menthol in mint has also been shown to trigger a cold sensation in the brain, and calms the mind.”

homemade fruit popsicles
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Eat light

When we sweat we lose potassium, but which foods are best to replace it when you don’t want to eat anything too heavy? Kelly O’Connor, registered dietitian at the Diabetes & Nutrition Center at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, Maryland, suggests potassium-rich fruits, including bananas, strawberries, pomegranates, papaya, mangoes, and oranges. “Instead of eating a plain banana, cut it into pieces ahead of time, put a little bit of melted dark chocolate on it and freeze it so it’s ready when you come in from the heat. Another cold treat can be blending your favorite fruit and putting the mixture into a Popsicle mold with a stick,” says O’Connor. Even mango or papaya on top of angel food cake or frozen yogurt can be a health-conscious way to enjoy a light treat.

bra on hanger
Poh Kim Yeoh / EyeEm/Getty Images

Keep your chest cool

Let’s be honest, a woman’s breasts can be the sweatiest part of her body on a hot day. A sweaty bra is uncomfortable on your skin and makes you feel miserable. Cora Harrington, editor in chief of The Lingerie Addict, says there are three things that help a bra keep you cool when it’s a scorcher: moisture-wicking fabric, spacer cups, and mesh inserts or panels. Vanity Fair Cooling Touch bras have a heat-diffusing fabric that is breathable and light. If you exercise in the heat, it’s essential to have cooling and comfortable support for your chest. When you begin to overheat and perspire, the Columbia Power Mesh sport bra lowers the temperature of the material and the wicking feature transmits heat and moisture away from the body.

man sleeping in bed
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Cool slumber

After an exhausting, hot day, you might find yourself tossing and turning and flipping your pillow to get the cool side. If you don’t have A/C, your body heat—or maybe a partner or pet in the bed—can heat up your space and keep you awake. The recommended sleep temperature is between 60 to 67 degrees, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Here are some tips to stay cool: Keep your mattress cool on a hot night by using the ChiliPad, a mattress pad for your bed that has a cooling and heating temperature control system. It keeps the surface to your specified temp by actively circulating water through a network of microtubes. If you’re always hot and your partner is cool, consider investing in a Wink Bed. It has a dual-sided cool control to keep you both comfortable. If you prefer the feel of a gentle, cool breeze while you sleep, the Bedfan may help you get a restful night. It’s a fan that sits at the foot of your bed, providing a gentle breeze that moves under the sheet, up to the sides of your body to keep you cool throughout the night.

Next up, These weird sleep tricks can help you get to sleep.


Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer and writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and Realtor.com., among others. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.