Surprising Things You Can Clean with Vodka

Vodka removes grease, stains, and streaks from some unlikely places. Here are 15 unexpected things you can clean (or refresh) with a bit of booze!

Not just for cocktails anymore, vodka is a versatile, potent potable with cleaning powers aplenty. The grain-based liquor performs many of the same tasks as vinegar—degreasing cookware, removing stains, refreshing fabrics, neutralizing odors, and disinfecting surfaces—but without any odor, a real plus for people sensitive to chemicals and their smell, says green-cleaning expert Mary Findley of Mary Moppins. Findley and her fellow clean fiends recommend keeping the cheapest vodka you can find on hand to clean and refresh everything from bed linens to jewelry. Here's a look at things that surprisingly benefit from a shot, a spritz, or a swipe of vodka.

Natural Cleaning Recipes

1. Most surfaces. Cleaning expert Leslie Reichert mixes up a batch of her vodka-based Happy Hour Cleaner to use on kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Create the germ-busting cleaner in a spray bottle, mixing four ounces of vodka, eight ounces of white vinegar, four ounces of lemon juice, eight drops of essential lemongrass oil, and two or three drops of Castile soap. Another Reichert formula: Let lemon or orange peels sit in a jar of vodka for a few weeks before transferring the liquid to a spray bottle. The citric acid from the peels will be extracted by the vodka to create a powerful citrus-scented cleaner. Or, even easier, just fill a spray bottle with vodka to use for quick cleanups.

2. Bathroom surfaces. Findley recommends using sprays of straight vodka to remove soap scum from shower walls, polish shower door frames, and remove water spots from faucets.

3. Bed dressings. Promote a good night's sleep by turning down your bed linens 20 minutes before bedtime and refreshing your sheets and pillowcases with a linen spray created by blending a half cup of distilled water, half a cup of cheap vodka, and 30 to 40 drops of lavender essential oils, advises Melissa Maker of Clean My Space. Maker says the spray can also be effective to keep just-used towels smelling fresh as they dry.

4. Dirty mirrors and windows. Spray straight vodka onto windows, mirrors, and glass-topped furniture, taking care not to spray the trim, frames, and stained finishes. Wipe away the vodka with a microfiber cloth to remove streaks and smudges.

5. Sticky tags. Getting adhesive labels and price tags off slick surfaces, such as photo frames, vases, and glassware, can be a bear. Maker recommends easing the removal process by dabbing straight vodka onto stickers with a cotton ball or clean rag. Let the vodka sit for a few seconds, then gently remove the label with your fingernail. It should slide right off.

6. Underarm odors. Mix a cocktail that neutralizes sweaty underarm scents from shirts, blouses, and dry-clean-only tops. Findley fills a spray bottle with four parts water to one part vodka, then she thoroughly moistens both sides of the garment's underarm sections and lets the piece sit overnight. If the odor remains, she uses a stronger three-to-one water and vodka blend to retreat the areas. First, though, test the solution on an interior seam or hem before applying. Then, when you're satisfied the odors are gone, launder washable items in cold water and let them hang dry (heat sets stains and odors, so forgo the dryer to make sure the stink is really off). Let dry-clean-only garments hang dry before returning them to closets or drawers.

7. Germy places. Vodka is rich in disinfecting qualities. When mixed with three to four parts water, it becomes an easy-to-apply antibacterial agent. Findley advises employing the spray during cold and flu season to clean doorknobs, fridge handles, remote controls, and light switches. It will also disinfect kitchen surfaces, such as cutting boards and countertops, that come in contact with raw meat and eggs.

8. Greasy spaces. Use straight vodka or a one-to-one vodka to water mix to degrease the tops of range hoods, backsplashes, and countertops. Apply the vodka or vodka solution to surfaces with a spray bottle or with a vodka-moistened rag or sponge.

9. Oil-slimed kitchenware. Greasy pans and plates get clean faster when you add a jigger or two of vodka to a sink of soapy dishwashing water, says Reichert.

10. Toilet rings. Pour a half cup of vodka into your toilet once a month to keep rings from forming, recommends Findley. While you're at it, disinfect by wiping down both the tops and undersides of toilet seats.

11. Musty towels. Findley offers this laundry-day idea for freshening stale towels: Add one third of a cup of vodka to your washing machine as it's filling with water, then add laundry soap, and when the tub finishes filling, pause the machine. Place your towels in the washer and let them soak for an hour or two before washing as usual. Don't overcrowd the washing-machine tub, though, since overfilled machines won't agitate correctly, which results in funky-smelling towels.

12. Smelly clothing. Cigarette and campfire smoke and cooking endeavors produce odors that permeate clothing. Simply hang smelly garments, spritz them with straight vodka, and let them dry. Odors will be neutralized, and you'll save yourself a trip to the dry cleaner.

13. Red wine, grass, and vomit stains. Vodka acts as a solvent, according to the folks at Smart Klean, and it can be used to effectively remove wine, grass, and vomit stains. Lay a stained garment atop an old towel or rag (this will protect your work surface) and blot the stain with a vodka-soaked rag. Rinse the area with clean water and repeat the process until the stain has disappeared. Reichert notes that straight vodka can also be used to remove grease stains on carpets—spray the stain with vodka, and blot the area with a dry cloth, followed by a clean wet cloth. Let the area dry. Stain still there? Repeat the process.

14. Houseplants. Keep aphids at bay by washing houseplant leaves with tap water and then dabbing the leaves with a cotton ball dipped in vodka, according to those in the know at Apartment Therapy. Employ this treatment only on plants with sturdy or waxy leaves, as the vodka could damage delicate-leafed plants like African violets. Speaking of pests ... spray vodka along incoming ant trails to keep ants out of the house.

15. Fine and not-so-fine jewelry. Shine up your baubles and beads with a swish or two of vodka, advises the Magnolia Network. Before tackling this chore, sort out soft metals and delicate gems, like opals and pearls, which could be damaged by the vodka. Swish rings, pendants, or earrings back and forth through a bowl of vodka and dry the pieces with a clean cloth. Soak very dirty jewelry pieces in vodka to loosen debris before cleaning them with a toothbrush.

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