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We love beach sand … we just prefer not to bring a ton of it home with us.

By Marisa Spyker

Have you ever noticed in an Olympic volleyball game that, even after diving passes and tumbles in the sand, Kerri Walsh Jennings and her USA teammates somehow remain completely sand-free? The reason is that, per the Olympic guidelines, a special type of designer sand must be used, a kind that’s of an ideal weight, size, and non-stick texture—in other words, much different than what you find on your average beach.

For us non-Olympians frequenting beaches from California to Florida, leaving the sand behind can be a much larger feat. That’s because on a typical beach, sand particles come in various sizes, and it’s the smallest of those that find themselves onto your skin, cell phone, towels, and just about everything else in your beach bag.

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You can blame this on science, of course. According to Popular Science, sand is highly hydrophilic, meaning water molecules attach right to each grain, forming little water bridges that subsequently latch onto anything else that’s wet or damp.

So the key to staying sand-free, short of qualifying for the Olympics? Try and limit moisture. Choose gear like bags and beach chairs made from an open material like mesh for minimal sand collection. Wash towels with fabric softener, which is hydrophobic and will repel at least some moisture. Prevent droplets from forming on your drink containers by opting for a reusable double walled tumbler (which keeps drinks cold and prevents the outer layer from hitting the dew point).

As for your skin, if you plan to take a dip in the sea, chances are slim for remaining sand-free. But if you keep a bottle of baby powder—a substance even more hydrophilic than sand—in your beach bag and sprinkle it on sandy feet, the grains should fall away easily.

Here’s to our next day on the sand (and the hope of leaving most of it at the beach where it belongs).