13 Amazing Alka-Seltzer Uses That Have Nothing to Do With Heartburn

This medicine cabinet staple does so much more than relieve digestive issues: It's also great for stain removal, cleaning, and deodorizing.

How Fizz Can Help with Household Fixes

How Fizz Can Help with Household Fixes

That recognizable refrain of “plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is” can be applied to many problems that go beyond heartburn and 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 Coffeemaker

How to Clean Coffee Maker

If your morning cup of joe tastes a bit stale, use Alka-Seltzer to make it fresh again. Fill your coffee maker's 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 insides. Rinse the chamber two or three times, and finish by running one more brew cycle with plain water before making coffee.

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2. Banish Bowl Residue

How to Clean Toilet Bowl

A pair of Alka-Seltzer tablets can fizzle away tough toilet bowl stains. Drop in the tablets, wait 20 to 30 minutes, give the bowl a quick once-over with a toilet brush, and flush. Stains will disappear, and the toilet will be left clean and deodorized.

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3. Fashion a Funky Lamp

DIY Lava 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!

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4. Unclog the Drain

How to Clear Clogged 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.) The bonus? Dumping the water should also help with unpleasant drain odors.

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5. Revive Jewelry

How to Clean 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 may damage them.

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6. Get Glass Sparkling

How to Clean A Decanter

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.

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7. Remove Stains From Clothing

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. 

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8. Blast Burnt Food

How to Clean Glass Cookware

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 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 easily flake off. Note: For extra cleaning power on tough stains, add a cup of vinegar to the soaking water.

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9. Freshen the Fridge

How to Get Rid of Fridge Smell

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. 

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10. Clean Plastic Containers

10. Clean Plastic Containers

Reusable plastic 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 based on the container’s size. Allow the mixture to sit for half an hour before rinsing it out, and the container will be as good as new. 

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11. Deodorize a Cooler

11. Deodorize a Cooler

After a camping trip or a day tailgating, unpleasant odors can linger in your 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. 

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12. Eliminate Caffeine Stains

12. Eliminate Caffeine Stains

When you repeatedly drink tea or coffee from the same mug 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 seem to get the job done. Fill the mug with warm water and drop a tablet in before allowing it to sit for 10 minutes. 

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13. Soothe Bug Bites

13. 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 your 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. 

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14. All-Purpose Cleaner

14. 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. 

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