Having a well-appointed home bar doesn’t just make for great hostessing — it can also be a treasure trove of cleaning supplies! These are some of my favorite uses for booze, mixers and garnishes that any amateur mixologist worth his or her artisanal bitters will have on hand, that can be used to make your home look as good as your cocktails taste.
Vodka can be used odor eliminator—stick with the cheap stuff, there’s no point in wasting your Chopin on a stale-smelling suit jacket. A spray bottle will make the application a breeze; decant a cup or two of vodka from its bottle into one fitted with a nozzle and spritz spritz spritz your way to fresher smelling clothes, upholstery, and mattresses.
That same cheap vodka will make short work of removing sticky residue from price tags, labels, and suchlike. Apply to a rag or cotton ball and wipe the stickum away.
If you run out of Windex, vodka can also serve as a glass and chrome cleaner. Pair it with paper towels or microfiber clothes for streak-free results.
There’s a good reason that waiters are so quick to bring a glass of club soda to your table when you dribble or spill on your shirt — the combination of the water and the sodium that’s added to club soda gives the standard mixer extra stain-removing power. Just remember that it must be club soda, not seltzer or sparkling water.
Tabasco & V8
The essentials for your killer bloody mary are also the essentials for keeping those copper Moscow Mule cups shiny and bright: The combination of acid and salt in those two products will remove tarnish from copper and brass.
This is an old hostess trick that really does work — white wine can be used to remove red wine stains from clothing, upholstery and carpet. Pour some of the white wine on a white or light-colored cloth or rag and tamp at the red wine stain to remove.
Bar Fruit (Lemons, Limes, etc.)
Citrus is both a great cleaner and odor eliminator and we could be here all day talking about the many uses for lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges when it comes to getting your home clean. But let’s stick with just three of my favorites for the time being.
Citrus peels make for a lovely cocktail garnish, and an even lovelier way to eliminate odors and infuse your home with a fresh-smelling aroma by tossing them in a pot with 4-6 cups of water and bringing to a boil before reducing to a low simmer for 15-30 minutes.
Those peels can also be combined with cheap vodka to make a DIY linen spray; pour 3 Oz. of vodka into a small spray bottle, add 3-5 good-sized strips of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit peels to the bottle, top off with one to two cups of distilled water, and store for a week in a dark, cool place to infuse before using.
Lemons and grapefruit can be used to clean all manner of household items, from stinking cutting boards to your bathtub. Just lop one in half, sprinkle with kosher salt and use it to scrub surfaces.
Yes, even good old Coke, the Cuba Libre (and hangover, let’s be honest) staple, can be used in your housekeeping efforts. Oh man, you’re gonna love this one so much: Do you know that Coke is an amazing drain clearer? Well, now you do! It can even be the stuff that’s gone flat — which you’d probably dump down the drain anyway. Coke works because one of its ingredients is phosphoric acid, which, when allowed to sit overnight in a stopped or slow-moving drain, will dissolve the clog.
Cola is also a great toilet cleaner; just dump some of it in the bowl, allow it to sit for an hour and then flush. Your commode will sparkle.
Can you handle one last use? Got an oil spill in your driveway? Yup, Coke will remove that too. Use a stiff bristled brush to scrub at the stain with the soda and hose off. Your concrete will look brand new.
Do you have any favorite uses for home bar items beyond the highball glass? Let us know in the comments!