As versatile a liquid as vodka is in a glass—pairing just as well with tomato juice as it does orange juice—it’s equally multipurpose in a non-drinking setting. In honor of National Vodka Day, here are some surprising uses for the popular spirit.
1. ALL-PURPOSE CLEANSER
No Windex? No problem. As a natural disinfectant, all it takes is a quick transfer from liquor bottle to spray bottle to turn vodka into an amazingly powerful all-purpose cleanser that tackles everything from windows and mirrors to countertops and cabinets.
Typically, spilling a cocktail on yourself would be a good indicator that it’s time to switch to water. But a spritz of vodka on your clothing, be it a musty old sweater or your favorite pair of gym shoes, can actually help freshen you up as it kills odor-causing bacteria on the spot (without leaving any chemical-like scent).
3. MOLD AND MILDEW REMOVER
Vodka’s antimicrobial properties make it a worthy opponent against mold and mildew. The best part? The cheaper the bottle, the less filtered it’s likely to be, which is good news when it comes to killing mold (but not so great when it comes to potential hangovers).
4. INSECT REPELLENT
While several studies have shown that drinking beer can make you more prone to mosquito bites, a quick way to help repel those pesky insects is by spraying yourself with vodka. Just make sure it’s not one a flavored (read: sugary) kind. Though straight-up is the most effective method, because it can leave a scent that lingers, there are a variety of recipes online to make this repellent more palatable to the nose.
5. WEED KILLER
Vodka can help to eliminate garden weeds, but it needs the assistance of the sun. Reader’s Digest suggests mixing one ounce of vodka with two cups of water and a few drops of dish soap, to be applied “at midday on a sunny day to weeds growing in direct sunlight, because the alcohol breaks down the waxy cuticle covering on leaves, leaving them susceptible to dehydration in sunlight. It won’t work in shade.”
6. FLOWER LIFE-EXTENDER
A shot of vodka can be a vase full of fresh flowers’ best friend. According to North Carolina State University horticulture professor John Dole, adding some vodka in with water can help flowers stay fresher longer, most likely as a result of inhibiting ethylene production. As with your own vodka consumption, just don’t overdo it: “Plants—like many people—can only tolerate small concentrations of alcohol,” according to Scientific American.
7. DANDRUFF REMOVER
From frizz to dandruff, vodka has become a go-to solution for a variety of hair care problems. “Vodka has a low pH level and is naturally acidic, which when added to conditioner can help maintain and lower a high pH level found in the hair,” hairstylist Marc Mena said. “[It] has the ability to seal the hair cuticle which will manage and reduce the appearance of frizz, resulting in softer and shinier strands.” Adding a shot of vodka to your bottle of shampoo can also help in relieving itchy scalps, thus reducing dandruff.
An earlier version of this article ran in 2015.