Surprising Uses for Alcohol that Don’t Involve Drunkenness


Alcohol doesn’t have to be only for drinking. From cleaning to sprucing up your garden, the booze you have in your cabinets can do a variety of jobs.


Vodka is one of the world’s most popular alcohols, not only because its ingredients (potatoes or grain) are ubiquitous, but also because its less severe flavor makes it perfect for mixing.

Vodka has cleaning power of all kinds. Spritz your laundry with the stuff as a freshener; the alcohol kills odor-causing bacteria, but doesn’t leave behind a scent after it has dried. Or use it to polish glass and porcelain and get rid of mold by simply scrubbing with a vodka-moistened towel.

Healing Poison Ivy
It’s not the best option to treating poison ivy, but vodka can help disinfect skin and reduce the symptoms of the rash.

Flower Freshener
As we learned over the holidays, packaged flower fresheners generally contain an acid, sugar and a biocide that kills bacteria. By adding vodka and a spoonful of sugar to the water of your bouquets, you can take care of those three components.


Whiskey is made from fermented grain mash, everything from barley to maize, and aged in wooden casks. While more than 15 countries produce whiskey in some capacity, it’s highly regulated, and each country produces different varieties based on specific rules.

Curing Congestion
Whiskey has long been used to treat colds and congestion. The alcohol is usually heated and combined with honey, lemon, water and other herbs based on the symptoms. Find recipes here.

Soothing a Toothache
Another ancient remedy that includes whiskey is for toothaches. Simply dab whiskey on both sides of a bad tooth using a cloth or use a shot of it as a mouthwash.

NPR reported last year that scientists have developed a fuel-grade biofuel that uses the waste from distilling whiskey, and it’s 30 percent more powerful than most biofuels.


Behind water and tea, beer is the most consumed beverage in the world. Other than slaking the thirst of thousands, beer can have a variety of uses.

Shiny Hair
The vitamin B and sugars in beer can help restore shine in hair. Make sure you have some warm, flat beer on hand and simply work it through your hair after you’ve shampooed it. Rinse thoroughly with cool water and style as usual.

Better Soil
We did this as a science project in middle school, and it worked! Pouring a few tablespoons of beer over soil helped grass grow fuller and faster. Thank the yeast; it helps support plant growth.

Beer Baths
They’re all the rage in the Czech Republic, but you don’t need to visit the Chodovar brewery to partake in beer bathing. Beer can soften your skin, especially darker beers with more malt.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

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