21 of the Best Household Uses for Vodka, Besides the Obvious
Vodka is a bar staple that you’re definitely already familiar with if you’ve ever ordered a cocktail, but did you know it has plenty of uses outside of drinking? You can use vodka around your home for a variety of things, from removing stains, to pepping up a boquet of flowers, to soothing pain and shining up your hair. Here are some of the most useful–but unexpected–things you can do with vodka.
Vodka can also be used to kill mildew and help remove the stains it leaves behind–because alcohol is a solvent, it will help wash away the marks that mildew leaves even as it kills the mold to stop it from spreading. In addition to removing the stain, vodka will also help take the damp smell out of fabrics. Make sure to dry the area you’re cleaning before applying vodka for best results.
You can use vodka to remove rust from hardware by soaking it for a few hours. For this application, a higher acidity works best, so cheap vodka actually works better than the smoother, more expensive stuff. Just drop your hardware into a vodka bath and allow it to soak for a few hours, then make sure to wipe it dry afterwards. Vodka will also help remove the stains caused by rust. Just use a clean cloth dampened with vodka and blot the affected area. For deeper stains, try soaking the area for a few hours before blotting.
To revive cut flowers, add a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar to the water in your vase. Ethylene is produced by plants and acts as a ripening agent. It is thought that alcohol prevents the production of ethylene, which keeps flowers from moving quickly on to their next life stage in an attempt to produce viable seeds. Meanwhile, the sugar helps feed the flowers and keeps them alive for longer.
One trick we’ve stood by for years is using vodka to polish your chrome or jewelry. Don’t use it on any jewelry that has gems or stones, but feel free to dab some on a microfiber cloth and polish up any plain jewelry or chrome you have at home.
Ever woken up after a night out with your hair a tangled mess? The very thing that got you here might just be your saving grace: vodka. Peel and chop some lemons into chunks, then put them in two cups of boiling water. Simmer until half the liquid is gone, strain them out, put the liquid in a spray bottle, and add some vodka. Spray it through your hair and comb with ease. Here’s our full guide.
Alcohol is the key to breaking down sticky residue, which is why some hairsprays work great for getting price tag gunk off your new stuff. Vodka, of course, works too, and we’ve recommended it for this purpose before. Soak a cloth in the stuff and rub it over any sticky residue you need gone. It’s that easy.
Mix some vodka, which has disinfecting properties, with some essential oil, which smells nice, and add it to a spray bottle for a wonderful fabric freshener, according to Tasting Table. Spritz it on sheets, pillows, curtains, and other fabrics to give them an instant boost of clean scent.
All you need to make flavorful, homemade vanilla extract is vodka and vanilla beans. Here’s an exact recipe on how to do it, but even if you don’t feel like making a whole bottle of extract on your own and prefer yours store-bought, vodka has a purpose: Rinse your empty extract bottles with vodka to add a little flavoring to the liquor before using it in your next cocktail.
Vodka might be effective as a bug spray, too. Think back to your last big summertime shindig. Maybe the reason you didn’t notice bugs nibbling you wasn’t just that you were too drunk to care, but what you were drunk on. Mix a cup of vodka, two tablespoons of aloe vera juice, two teaspoons of oil like soybean or castor, and one and a half teaspoons of an essential oil blend. Add it to a spray bottle and keep it on hand for the next time the mosquitos are out. (But if it doesn’t work, go back to the old standbys: Bug spray and a fan.)
Alcohol is really helpful in cleaning glass, from weed pipes to windshields. Vodka is great for this, too. According to DIY Natural’s, all you need to do is mix one cup of high-proof vodka, one-fourth cup of white vinegar, and a little water (plus half a teaspoon of liquid soap if your windows are really dirty) and stick it in a spray bottle. Now you have a solution for a streak-free shine.
Remember the Mythbusters episode where they tested out whether vodka works as a mouthwash? They found that it does work to freshen breath and that’s because the alcohol kills some bacteria in your mouth. You can swirl and gargle it as you would any mouthwash, then spit or swallow it, depending on if you need any extra courage to lean in close to speak to someone.
If you have a fresh wine stain, you can use vodka (or any high-proof liquor) to remove it. Pour the liquor right on the stain and soak up as much of it as you can with a rag. Here’s our full guide on how to do it, but it’s pretty simple and effective.
Vodka is a secret ingredient for excellent pie crust. Swap cold vodka for water in your crust recipe to ensure a flakier, more tender crust. It’s a tip we’ve been recommending for years.
Like egg whites and flat beer, vodka is one of those ingredients that DIY blogs swear can really make your hair beautiful. I’ve tried it (as well as the egg whites and flat beer, thank you) and can confirm it does enhance shine. All you do is run vodka through your wet hair after a wash, then dry as normal. Don’t do it too often, though, and do follow up with some heat protectant or leave-in conditioner as your move on to your drying routine.
Vodka kills broadleaf weeds like dandelions, wild onions, mullien, and plantain weeds. Fill a spray bottle with vodka and spritz every weed you see but do it carefully, as you don’t want to kill the grass around it. This doesn’t have the chemicals most store-bought weed killers do, so it’s a little better for the environment and surrounding animals. Here’s our full guide.
Remember that Mythbusters episode we talked about? They also tested out how effective vodka is at reducing stings and itchiness associated with outdoor hazards like poison ivy and jellyfish (and we’ve told you about this before, too). Pour it over the irritated area after an unfortunate encounter with one of these nuisances and let the alcohol inside the vodka counteract the unpleasant sensations.
Thrillist recommends adding a few drops of vodka to a vase of cut flowers to extend how long they’ll last. Swap out this mixture daily to really maximize how long the bouquet will keep looking fresh.
We’ve already been over how helpful vodka is for freshening your linens, but for this fabric hack, you don’t even need the essential oils. Vodka works in a pinch to de-stink your nasty clothes if you don’t have time for a dry cleaning. Spritz it wherever the smell is coming from and you’ll notice a major neutralizing effect, as we’ve mentioned before.
Another tip from Thrillist is about cold sores, which the site says you can dry out with vodka if you absolutely have to. Swig it around in your mouth, then spit or swallow, depending on your preference, or dab it on external sores with a q-tip.
As we’ve suggested before, rest your razor in vodka after shaving to keep the blades disinfected and rust-free.
When we say to use vodka for pain relief, we don’t (always) mean to just do some shots. Grab a Ziplock bag and fill it with one part water and one part vodka, then stick it in the freezer so you have a slushy, reusable ice pack the next time your body is aching.
This article was originally published in November 2022 and updated on March 13, 2023 with additional uses: eliminating mildrew, removing rust, and reviving cut flowers.