Surprising Household Uses for Vodka (Other Than Drinking It)

Whether you’re dealing with the funk of a teenager’s gym bag, or you have a stubborn carpet stain, look no further than a good ol’ bottle of cheap vodka. At around $7, it’s one of the cheapest and most versatile cleaning agents in your cupboard—except for possibly vinegar (but without the pungent smell).

Here’s how you can use a spray bottle of vodka to clean your home. 

In the Kitchen

Vodka makes for an efficient degreaser that’s safe to use on kitchen appliances and surfaces, such as stainless steel stoves, marble countertops, and wooden cutting boards. But take note that vodka, at around 40% alcohol by volume, is not a disinfectant.

“Alcohol concentrations below 60% do a very poor job of killing bacteria and viruses,” says Andre P. Walther, Ph.D., associate professor and director of Genetic Engineering in the Department of Biological Sciences at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA. He notes that vodka is not a substitute for good old-fashioned soap and warm water when it comes to sanitizing surfaces.

That said, for general tidying up and as a quick, last-minute wipe down before company arrives (that won’t leave your kitchen smelling like vinaigrette), vodka is the way to go.

The spirit is also useful for removing adhesive left behind from stickers or labels on things like plastic storage bins or other containers. Either spray it on, or dab it on a cotton ball, and saturate the sticky bits. The vodka will soften and loosen it enough to be rubbed away.

In the Bathroom

Spritz any mildew or soap scum in the shower or sink and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water and wipe it clean.

As for windows and mirrors, you’ll be amazed at how well vodka works. They’ll actually be streak-free! And unlike when using vinegar or commercial cleaning products, you don’t have to move any toothbrushes or other personal items out of the way when you clean the mirror (in case any spray or mist falls on them). Once the vodka dries, it’s fine—and it dries fast. Vodka takes care of flecks of dried toothpaste, as well as smudges and fingerprints. It is the only thing I will ever use on my glass surfaces from now on.

In the Living Room or Bedroom

Just as vodka is a great mixer for cocktails, it’s also a great mixer for essential oils. Adding a couple drops of tea tree, thyme, eucalyptus, clove, or lavender not only makes the spray smell good, but these oils have antimicrobial and disinfectant properties of their own.

When mixed in this way, you can spritz it in a room as an air freshener. Or spray it as a deodorizer in shoes, gym bags and gear, garbage cans, or on mattresses or linens. (Always allow things to air dry before using or putting away.)

Vodka can also eradicate fresh carpet stains. First blot the stain, then spray it with vodka. After allowing it to sit for 10 minutes, blot again. Repeat as necessary. (While I can vouch that this worked on puppy puke on my own new bedroom carpet, not everyone may be comfortable trying out a DIY cleaner on such an expensive centerpiece of the home.)

Lastly, vodka can make your jewelry sparkle. Just be sure the jewelry is gold, silver (including sterling), tungsten, platinum, or stainless steel before giving it a brief soak in vodka.

The Bottom Line

Unlike the adage for cooking with wine—use only wine that you’d want to drink—you don’t want to use the good vodka you’re saving for martinis or vodka sauce. In fact, the cheaper the better. You can also stretch your vodka dollar by mixing it in a 50/50 solution with water. As always, when creating your own cleaning products, be sure to to label the bottle clearly.

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