Vodka is one of the world’s most popular spirits – and for good reasons. Besides being an immensely versatile alcohol, vodka has loads of other uses besides drinking. (Though the drinking use can be good, too.) Though most people are familiar with its uses in cocktails (or are longing to forget it), vodka can serve as an effective household product for anything from disinfecting counter tops and bathrooms to improving our cooking. Whether it’s the cheap bottle of vodka a cheap friend brought to the party or a bottle you’ve had in the back of your liquor cabinet and will never use, now is the time to break it out. It’s more useful than you may think. For uses from the kitchen to the garden, from the window to the wall (ok, just the window), here are 25 home uses for cheap vodka besides drinking.
As alcohol is useful in killing bacteria, the odorless, colorless wonder that is vodka can be used to freshen up your clothes. Put some vodka in a spray bottle and spritz your clothes before hanging them to dry – the liquor will kill bacteria which cause funky scents on your threads.
Makes hair shinier
Forget about a shower beer – now you can bathe with vodka. Add 50 milliliters (about a shot) of vodka per 12 ounces (350 mL) of shampoo and shake up the bottle. Vodka’s low pH cleanses the scalp, eliminates toxins, stimulates hair growth, brings frizzy hair under control, and even makes your strands shinier. That’s a huge benefit for one little shot!
Bakes a lighter pie crust
When water comes into contact with flour, it creates gluten. When baking, gluten can become tough and produce a less desirable texture. To circumvent this, replace a third of the water in your pie crust dough recipe with vodka which, containing less water than pure water (alcohol takes up the rest of the percentage, generally 40%), will create less gluten, thus producing a more tender pie crust.
Cures poison ivy
If you’re on a long-hike through the woods (or a short one to go boozing), you might brush across the stinging poison ivy. To prevent irritation, pour vodka onto the affected areas (wait…how did you get poison ivy on your tongue?) and it’ll rinse away the plant’s urushiol oil, the cause of the irritation.
Makes your face more beautiful
Though other peoples’ faces look more beautiful after we drink vodka, here’s a unusual use for the spirit to make your own look better. Brew up a cup of green tea and add 1/4 teaspoon of vodka. Moisten a cotton pad and swab it around your face. Catechins in the green tea help sooth the skin while the vodka helps close pores and tighten your skin. It also works well as an aftershave!
Repels pesky insects
If you have sweet skin that is always being devoured by mosquitoes or frequented by other flying critters, you may want to carry a bit of vodka on you. (No, officer, this is for medical purposes.) A spritz of vodka can take down mosquitoes or other insects already on you and repel those on their way.
To bring a shine back to your cutlery (and your jewelry), soak the pieces for five minutes in vodka before rinsing with water and drying.
An unusual home use for vodka which may become a staple in your arsenal, soak rusted items (screws, scissors, etc.) in vodka for a few hours before rubbing the rust off.
Dries out a clogged ear
Another useful alternative for cheap vodka is in clearing out your ears after swimming. If water is lodged in your ears, put in a few drops of vodka to dry them out. If your ear is feeling tender or sore, avoid this unusual home vodka use as it could burn the tender skin!
Keeps your plants alive longer
So we’re not suggesting you dump bottles of vodka on your garden, but if you’ve been given some flowers, vodka can help extend their lives. Add a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vodka to the water in your flower vase to keep flowers looking bright for longer.
Remember when we said not to pour vodka on your garden? Well, it’s true you should keep vodka away from your tomatoes and carrots, but if you’re looking to take down some weeds without adding chemical herbicides, mix vodka with water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Spray liberally onto the pesky weeds.
Cleans household fixtures
Forget about expensive home cleaners – cheap vodka can easily be used for cleaning fixtures, too. Spray a small towel with vodka and rub over any glass, chrome, or porcelain items in your house to lift off grime and dirt.
If you’re cleaning the bathroom fixtures with vodka and find some mold or other dark stains in the corners of the shower, spray on some vodka and let sit for 15 minutes. Put in a bit of elbow grease to scrub the area clean.
Cures jellyfish stings
It’s a popular conception that urinating on a jellyfish sting will ease the pain and kill the toxin, but urine isn’t as effective (or clean) as vodka. Pouring vodka over a jellyfish sting can take the pain out of affected area.
Eliminates foot odor
To freshen up stinky shoes, spritz vodka into them to cut the odor. To take care of your own feet, add some vodka to the water of your foot soak to penetrate deep and cut out the nasty odors.
Removes sticker glue
The residue left by stickers on glass bottles or anywhere else attracts all kinds of grime. Lift the adhesive off with ease by rubbing a vodka-soaked cloth over the area. The same method works great on stovetop grime and for removing adhesive bandages without pain (though if the cut is still open, it will sting like hell).
Freshens your breath
Sorry, we’re not at a use where you can’t drink it (yet). This home remedy with vodka involves using it as a mouthwash. Add a few drops of pure cinnamon, spearmint, or tea tree oil to a small amount of vodka and leave it to infuse for at least 14 days. (Or do as the Mythbusters did on their show and add 9 tablespoons of powdered cinnamon to 1 cup of vodka.) If the mixture is too pungent, cut down the alcohol level with some water; and don’t swallow it after swishing!
Eliminates the smell of cigarettes
Working like a homemade Febreze, add one tablespoon of vodka to three tablespoon of water and spritz it onto your furniture or anywhere else you want to remove a cigarette smell. It also works on clothes.
Cleans windows and mirrors
To remove hairspray residue on mirrors or to clear streaks off of windows, put away the harsh chemicals and spray the area with watered-down vodka then just wipe it down. You can use it on your eyeglasses as well – though check with your provider to make sure it won’t remove any added films.
Eases aches & pains
Though vodka can generally ease aches and pains if ingested, here’s another unusual homemade use for vodka that doesn’t involve drinking it. Add fresh lavender flowers and vodka into a glass jar and put it out in the sun for three days (longer if you live in a cloudy place) to extract the oils and goodness. Strain the mixture and rub it onto any aches or pains you have.
Soothes a toothache
Finally! A method that involves actually drinking the vodka. To ease a toothache, swirl a shot of vodka around your mouth, especially around the painful area, to disinfect it and numb some of the pain. You can even swallow the shot afterwards.
Makes DIY extracts
Store bought extracts – whether they’re lemon, almond, or vanilla – are pretty pricey. Take more control over your cooking (and wallet) by making your own extracts at home with this unusual vodka use. Take whatever item you’re looking to extract the essence from – oranges or mint, for example – and seal them in a Mason jar with vodka for a week or more. Since you’ll be tasting the vodka indirectly, you may want to use a little nicer vodka than the cheapest on hand!
For a natural way to take care of dandruff, crush a tablespoon of dried rosemary to release the oils then add it to a cup of vodka for a few days. Strain the liquid and rub it onto your scalp but don’t wash it off – let the mixture dry for maximum effect.
Removes red wine and stains
So you’ve just had that party and red wine (or any other tinted substance) was spilled on your new carpet or couch. Turn to that open bottle of vodka for help! To remove ink, red wine, and some food stains from formerly pristine possessions, use a vodka-soaked cloth to dab the area. Lightly dab with a dry towel after a few minutes to lift the stain.
If your muscles are tense and sore after a long session at the gym or after running a marathon, add equal parts vodka and water into a zip-top bag and freeze it. The vodka will prevent the mixture from freezing entirely, making it more like a slushy which is better suited as an ice pack on aching muscles. What unusual ways do you use vodka in your own home?