Absolut Repurposing: 17 Uses for Vodka


In college, I studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. In a place where you can buy a liter of some of the finest vodka for only $3 and street stands sell bottles of the drink for 50 cents, it's no surprise that I came across some odd uses for the vodka while abroad. Here are ways (besides drinking) to make the most of it. (See also: Cocktail Time: Great Budget Liquors)

Household Cleaning

Did your in-laws just call giving you a 10-minute warning that they're on their way over — and you're all out of cleaning supplies? For the following remedies, mix one part vodka to three parts water in a spray bottle for any of the following cleaning methods. Then let sit and wipe clean with a damp cloth.

1. Shine and Polish Most Surfaces and Jewelry

Porcelain, glass, chrome, stainless steel, and most metals can be polished with the help of vodka. (Always be sure to test an out-of-sight spot on any surface you're unsure of.) And don't try to clean any sensitive jewelry, like pearls, opals, and porous jewels with vodka.

2. Remove Soap Scum

Whether it's on your bathtub, shower, sink, or faucet, soap scum can be easily removed with vodka.

3. Clean and Kill Mildew

You know the pink mildew that builds up on your bathroom caulk? The vodka's alcohol will kill it.

4. Clean Mirrors and Windows

Vodka works wonders in removing everything from toothpaste to hairspray from your mirrors and things like kids' fingerprints and dog-nose prints from your windows.

5. Remove Glue (and Other Sticky Stuff)

When the price tag glue on your newest purchase stubbornly refuses to budge, dab a bit of vodka on it and let sit for a few minutes before rubbing off with a wet washcloth. It even works on bumper sticker adhesive.

Plants and Pets

Vodka is useful for cleaning and killing problems caused by plants and pets.

6. Kill Weeds

Dandelions can be killed with the help of vodka. Mix a half a cup of vodka and four cups of water in a bottle and thoroughly spray the weeds in your yard. Make sure the sun is bright; the alcohol and sun will work to dehydrate the weed and kill them for good.

7. Kill Pests

Next time you trap a bee in your windowsill, spray some vodka/water on it to kill it. And aphids can be killed on plants by spraying the plants with a well-diluted vodka solution (one teaspoon of vodka for each cup of water is best).

8. Remove Pet Odors

If your cat or dog stunk up your carpet, spray the spot with one part vodka to four parts water, and let dry.


Vodka dries without an odor and is extremely useful in doing your laundry. Here are two ways it helps.

9. Remove Stains

Treat ink, lipstick, and grass/plant stains with a bit of vodka. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before throwing in the washing machine with the rest of your laundry.

10. Clean Mildewy and Moldy Towels

If your bath towels, washcloths, and kitchen towels are smelling a little rank, put a half to full cup of vodka in with your regular wash to remove the smell.

Personal Hygiene

You probably don't feel the most hygienic after drinking too much vodka, but the alcohol can actually be used in several hygienic ways.

11. Use as a Toner

Most toners contain a large percentage of alcohol. So, if you're in a pinch, apply vodka to your face with a cotton ball before showering.

12. Cure Dandruff

Cleanse your hair with a mixture of rosemary and a few tablespoons of vodka to prevent and cure dandruff.

13. Make Mouthwash

This mouthwash recipe calls for vodka, baking soda, water, Stevia, and herbs. I've also seen similar recipes that omit the baking soda and Stevia, and instead use cinnamon, vodka, and water. Try experimenting to find the best proportions for you. Just be sure to avoid swallowing.


These are at-home alternative medicine treatments. Always consult your physician before trying to treat an ailment with a non-prescribed treatment.

14. Treat Earaches and Toothaches

In Russia, mothers used to put vodka in their children's ears and mouths for earaches and toothaches. I would never try this on my kid, but if the dentist can't see you until tomorrow, vodka treatment might be worth a try.

15. Treat Cold Sores

Supposedly, by treating your cold sore with a bit of vodka, the alcohol will dry up the sore.

16. Relieve Jellyfish Stings

If you're at the beach and would rather avoid a Friends moment, grab the vodka and pour it over the sting instead.

17. Relieve Poison Ivy

If you've brought vodka on your camping-trip-gone-awry, use it to remove the plant's oils that cause the reaction.

Have you ever used vodka for something other than drinking? What for? And did it work?

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Guest's picture

America's Test Kitchen substitutes vodka for half the water in pie crust. That provides enough moisture to make it easy to roll, then the alcohol evaporates in the oven and leaves the crust extra flaky.

Guest's picture

I've made wonderful vanilla extract with vodka - far better than store bought!

Andrea Karim's picture

Nothing about quieting fussy infants? Or is that only in my family. ;)

Guest's picture

All that and good to drink too! WOW, it's a miracle.

Guest's picture

Treating a cat's abcess. Did it work? Well, both cats that got the vodka treatment
lived to a ripe old age......

Guest's picture

Vodka mouthwash. Now you're talking! Just maybe not right before work. Or driving.

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