10 Times Boiling Water Can Help Around the House

Water is everywhere around us, and in most of the United States it's so safe and plentiful that we often take it for granted as we use it to drink, cook, clean, bathe, and play. But no matter how you use tap water at home, you may be surprised to learn that you can unlock even more uses for water just by boiling it. Indeed, boiling water can be used all over the house and garden. Be careful, though: Boiling water can burn the skin, so use it cautiously. Wear closed-toe shoes, appropriate clothing, and gloves to protect yourself from hot water that may splash and sting. Now, here's a look at some of the most ingenious ways to use boiling water at home.
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Natural Weed Killer


Many common weeds that grow through the cracks in your sidewalk or driveway can be killed with a liberal application of boiling water. This method of weed removal is especially effective against annual weeds, such as meadow grass, groundsel, creeping wood sorrel, chickweed, and willow herb. Some perennial weeds with long taproots and broad leaves, such as dandelions, thistles, mallow, and dock weeds, may need additional treatments.

Related: Wage War on Weeds with 7 Unbeatable Tools

Unclog a Drain


Many small drain blockages can be cleared with a pot or two of boiling water. Begin by removing any standing water from the clogged area, then pour boiling water straight into the drain. This method should be used only if you have metal pipes. Use hot tap water if you have PVC pipes, as boiling water will damage them.

Related: No Plunger Needed: 7 Easier Ways to Clear a Clog

Quickly Thaw Frozen Foods


When you want to thaw food quickly, a microwave really delivers, but that small but mighty appliance might not be the best solution for every frozen food. For instance, frozen vegetables or fruits can quickly turn to mush in the microwave. A better way to thaw delicate foods? Dip them in boiling water for a few seconds at a time, removing the container and shaking it gently in between dunks to ensure that the food thaws evenly.

Related: 13 Things Never to Put in the Microwave

Remove Stains


Certain types of stains (and fabrics) respond well to being treated with boiling water. Good candidates include fruit stains from raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, watermelon, and grapes. For table linens or clothing, immerse the stained area in a pot of boiling water until the stain is gone. For carpets, remove a pot of boiling water from the stove (use pot holders!) and carefully pour a little on the stain. Keep sponges and towels handy to sop up any excess water.

Related: The 7 Weirdest Things That Can Clean Your Laundry

Relieve Clogged Sinuses


Whether you have a cold or seasonal allergies or your nose is just stuffy after you’ve dusted and vacuumed, the steam from boiling water can loosen congestion and help you breathe freely. First, boil some water on the stove, then transfer the liquid to a cup or bowl; place a towel over your head and lean down over the bowl. With your head and the bowl tented underneath the towel, breathe in the steam. Never place your head over a pot of boiling water on the stove, as the superheated steam could burn your face.

Related: Allergy-Proof Your Home in 7 Steps

Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts


Even the most diligent of homeowners can end up with a clogged gutter or downspout every now and then. Rather than poking around with tools and possibly scratching or damaging your gutters, try clearing out the debris by pouring several large pots of boiling water into the gutter and through the downspouts. You might be amazed at what comes out the bottom!

Related: The 12 Fall Home Maintenance Tasks You Can’t Ignore

Remove Oil and Grease Stains


Those pesky little drops of oil from your car’s engine can leave an unsightly mess on your driveway or garage floor. You can regularly douse any stained areas with boiling water to remove those nasty grease stains, although older stains might require extra scrubbing with a stiff brush dipped in the boiling water.

Related: 10 Things You Need to Keep Your Car Clean

Disinfect Cutting Boards


Even if you practice good kitchen hygiene and use separate cutting boards for meat and veggies, cutting boards can still be a source of cross-contamination. A quick dunk in a pot of boiling water can clean and disinfect the surface.

Related: Would Your Kitchen Pass a Restaurant Health Inspection?

Keep Safe in an Emergency


Sometimes, storms, accidents, or even routine maintenance can contaminate drinking water supplies. Boiling water for at least three minutes can remove disease-carrying organisms from the water, making it safe to drink and to use for cooking and bathing. Typically, if the water supply has been adversely affected, your local municipality will issue a boil water advisory and let you know when the problem has been corrected. 

Related: Prep for Disaster: 10 Things You’ll Need in a Home Emergency

Make Your Own "Snow"


Here’s a great way to delight the kids on a long winter’s day: If you live in an area where the temperature drops below zero, take a cup of boiling water outside, toss it into the air, and make your own “snow.” This works only in subfreezing temperatures—on a warmer day, all you’ll make is a big mess!

Related: The 10 Best Winter Buys for a Happy, Healthy Home

Boiling Point


Who knew something as simple as boiling water could do so much around the house?