It's a cruel, cruel summer when the grill gets gunky and your white jeans get funky. These strategies will help keep everything shipshape through Labor Day. By Julia Edelstein and Yolanda Wikiel
Midseason slump: The frame is starting to rust.
How to beat it: "Salt is one of the main causes of rust," says John Carmona, the owner of the Rust Store, in Madison, Wisconsin, a business devoted to getting rid of the brown stuff. Before you fold up your chairs at the end of a beach day, "give them a quick rinse with fresh water to remove the salt," says Carmona. At home, use a towel to wipe them down before storing. For preventive care, you can coat the frame base with car wax: The oil will repel salt and water.
Midseason slump: They're turning dingy and yellow.
How to beat it: One to two wears is the max you can get out of white jeans before cleaning them. "Unless a garment is 100 percent cotton, avoid chlorine bleach, which can cause yellowing," says Linda Cobb, the author of Talking Dirty Laundry (Pocket Books, $10, amazon.com). Instead, use an additive-free version, like Vaska Oxygen-bleach ($7 for 48 ounces, amazon.com). Once jeans start to look dingy at the seams, add a half cup of White Brite ($10 for 30 ounces, walmart.com) to the washer and presoak for five minutes.
Midseason slump: It's grimy with baked-on grease.
How to beat it: Your grill will fare best if you wipe it down immediately after barbecuing. Otherwise grease begins to set in and cast-iron grates start to rust. To clean the grates after a big cookout: Remove from grill and scrub with a grill brush and soapy water, then rinse with a hose. Replace, then fire up the grill to dry. To prevent food buildup, coat all the metal parts with a light cooking oil before each barbecue. For a step-by-step guide, see How to Clean a Grill.
Midseason slump: The fabric is starting to sag and fade.
How to beat it: "Rotate your swim-suits," says Ilene Sofferman of Canyon Beachwear, in New York City. "Spandex is a memory fabric and needs a day to recover its elasticity." Look for a suit whose hang tag lists Xtra Life Lycra-it's more resistant to stretching out than regular spandex. Rinse in cold water after each dip. Every 5 to 10 wears, machine-wash on the gentle cycle with a mild detergent, using a plastic lingerie case to protect the suit's padding and underwire (try Berry Ball & Bag, $14, comforthouse.com). Air-dry out of direct sunlight.
Midseason slump: They're stretched out.
How to beat it: Keep sunglasses in a case, not on top of your head (which stretches the frames), and don't leave them in a hot car (which will warp both the frames and the lenses). You can get a free adjustment from Sunglass Hut (sunglasshut.com for locations), or try your local eyewear shop. Next time look for a pair with flexible-hinge frames (the sales associate can point you in the right direction), which are less likely to stretch.