19 Surprising Alka-Seltzer Uses for the Home and Garden
This medicine cabinet staple is a treatment for far more than relieving digestive issues. Put Alka-Seltzer tablets to work cleaning stained coffee cups, dishwashers—even laundry stains!
That recognizable refrain of “plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is” can be applied to many problems that have nothing to do with heartburn or indigestion. Alka-Seltzer, sold in audibly effervescent tablets, can help you handle a host of issues around the house—and provide some fun and entertaining activities for families. The secret lies in Alka-Seltzer’s patented blend of citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, and aspirin, which unleashes powerful cleaning power on tough household grime and stains. Here are just a few unexpected ways Alka-Seltzer can come in handy around the house.
1. Clean the Coffee Maker
If your morning cup of joe tastes a bit stale, your coffee machine probably needs a good cleaning. Alka-Seltzer can help make it fresh again. Fill the chamber of your coffee maker chamber with water, and drop in four Alka-Seltzer tablets. Let the fizzing action work for 15 minutes, and then run a brew cycle to thoroughly clean the machine’s inner workings. Rinse the chamber two or three times, and finish by running one more brew cycle with plain water before making coffee.
2. Banish Bowl Residue
A pair of Alka-Seltzer tablets can relieve you of tough toilet bowl stains. Drop in the tablets, wait 20 to 30 minutes, give the bowl a quick scrub with a toilet brush, and flush. The stains will be history, and the toilet clean and deodorized.
3. Fashion a Funky Lamp
Bring back the spirit of the ’60s with a DIY lava lamp. Remove the label from an old soda bottle or other clear plastic container. Fill a quarter of the bottle with water, and then add vegetable oil up to the halfway mark. Add 10 to 12 drops of food coloring before breaking an Alka-Seltzer tablet into six pieces and dropping them into the mixture. To complete the effect, go into a dark room and shine a flashlight through the bottom of the bottle. Groovy!
4. Unclog the Drain
Get quick relief from a sluggish or clogged drain by dropping a few Alka-Seltzer tablets down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture work for 5 to 10 minutes, or until you hear the fizzing stop. While the Alka-Seltzer is doing its job, boil a kettle of hot water on the stove, then pour it down the drain to rid your pipes of any remaining residue. (If the clog is stubborn, it might require a second dose of hot water.) Bonus: Flushing the drain with hot water should also help with unpleasant drain odors.
5. Revive Jewelry
Make your own inexpensive jewelry cleaner by combining two Alka-Seltzer tablets and a cup of water. Place dull or discolored jewelry into the water for a couple of minutes until the fizzing stops, and then rinse with water. Your jewelry will shine like new! Don’t try this trick with delicate pieces or porous jewelry, such as pearls or opals, because the citric acid in the Alka-Seltzer may damage them.
6. Get Glass Sparkling
Stubborn stains or wine residue that lingers on the bottom of narrow-necked vases or decanters can often be tricky to remove using standard methods. Once again, Alka-Seltzer comes to the rescue: Fill the container halfway with water, and drop in two tablets. Let stand until the fizzing stops, and then rinse the vessel thoroughly with plain water. (The container may need a second treatment if it’s very dirty.) This method can also be used to clean a dirty glass thermos.
7. Remove Stains From Clothing
White clothes can inevitably become dingy over time, with T-shirts and dress shirts alike bearing telltale yellow underarm stains that can be tricky to remove. While there are products that are specially formulated to eliminate this stubborn discoloration, Alka-Seltzer also does the trick. Put the affected items in a gallon of warm water and add two Alka-Seltzer tablets. Let them soak for half an hour and then scrub the stained areas before throwing the laundry into the washing machine.
8. Blast Burnt Food
If your glass cooking dishes have acquired a grimy patina of burnt and baked-on food residue, use Alka-Seltzer to blast them clean. Fill the kitchen sink with water, and drop in five or six tablets. Place all your gunked-up glass cookware in the sink, and let it soak for about an hour. Lightly scrub and rinse with water—the burnt-on bits should flake off easily. For extra cleaning power on tough stains, add a cup of vinegar to the soaking water.
9. Freshen the Fridge
Sometimes even the cleanest refrigerator can take on an unappealing smell. Deodorize the fridge with one tablet of Alka-Seltzer in a cup of water. Keep the cup in the fridge for about 30 minutes to eliminate lingering scents. Repeat every week or so to ensure that the appliance retains its fresh scent.
RELATED: How to Clean a Refrigerator
10. Clean Plastic Containers
Plastic food containers are handy for storing leftovers and packing a lunch for work or school, but when they’re filled with tomato-based sauces they can become stained with an orange tinge. Eliminate this discoloration by filling the container with warm water and adding a tablet or two of Alka-Seltzer, depending on the container’s size. Allow the mixture to sit for ½ hour before rinsing it out, and the container will be as good as new.
11. Deodorize a Cooler
After a camping trip or a day tailgating, unpleasant odors can linger in the cooler. While you can try cleaning it with soap and water, Alka-Seltzer may actually be more effective. Fill the cooler with 2 inches of water, then drop in three tablets and let them dissolve. Let the mixture sit for an hour before rinsing out the cooler.
11. Eliminate Caffeine Stains
When you drink tea or coffee from the same mug every day and don’t rinse it out right away, brown stains tend to develop around the bottom. Because Alka-Seltzer is slightly abrasive, it’s able to scrub away those stubborn stains even when your standard dishwashing detergent can’t get the job done. Fill the mug with warm water and drop a tablet in before allowing it to sit for 10 minutes.
12. Soothe Bug Bites
Itchy mosquito bites are a nuisance, and they can be maddening if you don’t have calamine lotion or another treatment on hand to soothe the discomfort. An Alka-Seltzer in the medicine cabinet can save you a trip to the drugstore. Add a tablet to warm water and then apply the mixture to a cotton ball and dab the bite for instant relief.
13. All-Purpose Cleaner
While Alka-Seltzer comes in handy for a variety of specific tasks, it can also be used generally as an all-purpose cleaner. Add three tablets to 8 ounces of warm water and allow them to foam up. Use the mixture to clean practically any hard surface in your home, aside from delicate materials that can’t handle even a gentle abrasion.
14. Polish Silverware
You can polish more than just jewelry with Alka-Seltzer. To give silverware a shine, simply drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet in a bowl of warm water and place the silverware in the solution. Let it soak for a few minutes so the Alka-Seltzer can break down tarnish and residue. Rinse the silverware with water and dry it with a clean cloth.
15. Clean the Dishwasher
If you’re out of dishwasher detergent, Alka-Seltzer can be the next best thing. Place a tablet in the detergent compartment of the dishwasher and run a hot water cycle. The mixture of Alka-Seltzer with hot water helps break down grease and grime, leaving your dishwasher squeaky clean.
RELATED: How to Clean a Dishwasher
16. Remove Algae From a Bird Bath
If your bird bath is in need of a clean, Alka-Seltzer can be a simple and effective method to get rid of built-up algae. Use a dry brush to lightly scrub the bird bath. Add one to two crushed Alka-Seltzer tablets on the dry surface and continue to scrub. Rinse the bird bath thoroughly to get rid of any remaining grime.
17. Remove Rust From Tools
Fill a container large enough to cover the rusty tool part with warm water and drop one to two Alka-Seltzer tablets into it. Place the rusty tools into the solution, ensuring they’re fully submerged, and let them soak for a few hours. After soaking, use a metal file or brass brush to remove any remaining rust.
18. Clean Grout
To clean grout effectively, crush four or five Alka-Seltzer tablets in a small bowl of warm water, letting them dissolve completely. Pour the fizzy mixture into a spray bottle and spray onto the grout lines between the tiles. Scrub the grout with a dry brush (an old toothbrush can work, too) to remove dirt or stains. Rinse the area with water to reveal clean and fresh tile.
RELATED: 8 Ways to Clean Stained Grout
19. Repel Mice and Rats
While there isn’t much scientific evidence as to why Alka-Seltzer will get rid of mice and rats, it’s a widely accepted remedy. Cover one to two tablets with peanut butter and place them in areas of your home where you’ve noticed rodent activity. While it may work for some, it’s not a long-term solution for rodent control, and more conventional pest control methods are recommended as a follow-up.