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A day on the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks means lots of fun in the sun....and sand.

Not only is it irritating to leave the beach covered in sand but if your belongings are caked with sand, it can, and will, quickly find its way into your car and vacation home.

Although it is impossible to leave every grain of sand on the beach, you can seriously limit the amount of sand you take off the beach by following a few simple steps.

Try mesh.

Buy an open mesh bag to take to the beach. No matter how hard you try, your bag and belongings collect sand on the beach, but a bag that allows sand to fall out helps you leave as much sand on the beach as possible.

Grab a chair.

Sit on chairs instead of towels. Chairs can be dipped in the water before you leave the beach, ridding them of any excess sand, while wet towels collect sand and get heavy. Use your towels to simply dry yourself off and keep warm. (When you get home, be sure to rinse your chair with water from the hose! Saltwater can corrode your equipment).

Wear flip flops.

Wear flip-flops or other open-toe shoes. Sneakers and closed-toe shoes can become filled with sand and they also do not allow sand to freely fall out while walking.

Take the plunge.

Before packing up and heading home, take a dip in the ocean to loosen and remove sand in your bathing suit.

Next, make sure to swim back to shore in calmer water. Waves tend to stir up loose sand, so catching a wave will just get you gritty all over again.

Rinse.

After a gingerly walk through the sand, do a final rinse under the beachside shower. Don't forget the feet! You're all set for a sand-free walk to the car.

Be sure to also rinse out toys and buckets before packing them up. Rinsing toys isn't always a fun thing to do at the end of the day, but the less sand you bring back, the less mess you have to clean up later. Buckets with sand can weigh you down and you eventually have to get rid of the sand somewhere.

Baby powder...it's not just for babies.

Keep a bottle of baby powder handy. Sprinkle it on your feet and hands to help remove any residual sand before you load up in your car.

Use an old sheet.

Line your trunk with an old bedsheet so you can store all your beach gear on the sheet. Then shake it out and wash it after you return home.

Intercept it.

Keep household members from tracking sand in. Have a hose and a couple of plastic chairs just outside the front door. Instruct the kids to sit down and rinse off their feet before they come into the house.

Trap it.

Bristly "Welcome" mats outside the front and back doors will catch sand on feet before it can get through the door. Small rugs just inside each door will help as well.

Confine it.

Keep swimsuits in one area: a laundry room, back porch, or outdoor shower area is ideal. Instruct kids and other family members to change into and out of their swimsuits only in that area. Include towels, simple hooks where swimsuits can be hung up to dry, and terrycloth robes or a simple change of clothes to encourage everyone to leave behind as much sand as possible.

Suck it up.

You can expect to spend sometime sweeping sand back out the door, but also keep a hand-held rechargeable vacuum cleaner nearby to suck the sand off furniture and out of corners as soon as you spot it.