Interesting household uses for alcohol

Beer can be used to clean jewellery. Photo: MartinFredy, Bigstock

Want shinier hair? More artistic nails? How about guaranteed flaky pie crusts?

Spirits, beer and even champagne can be used as home remedies to sort out all your household woes.

Here are 8 uses for alcohol (other than drinking it) that you should know.

1. Cleaning jewellery

Alcohol can do wonders for jewellery. It’s most effective on metals like gold or silver and precious gemstones. Avoid using for pearls (try a mild shampoo instead).

Gold:

Submerge in a freshly poured beer and wipe down with a lint-free cloth. The fizz in the beer helps break down dirt particles and you’ll be left with shinier jewellery.

Diamonds:

Spot clean your precious gemstones (like diamonds, rubies or emeralds) with clear spirits. Swirl them in vodka or gin and gently scrub with a soft toothbrush. If you have a cluster of gems, say on a ring, then submerge the jewellery in alcohol to dissolve the dirt and grease buildup in the cracks.

Stay organised with bedroom jewellery storage.

2. Make flowers last longer

Looking for ways to keep your freshly cut flowers looking their best? Try adding a teaspoon each of vodka and sugar to the water. Change the mixture daily for best results. Cutting the stems each time you change the water will also help keep the stems open to absorb moisture.

3. Newspaper nails

Have a thing for words? Why not include them in your nail art. Newspaper nails are simple to create and the only extra step is pouring yourself a shot. Most tutorials recommend rubbing alcohol but a shot of clear alcohol (vodka, gin) will work just as well.

  • Paint your nails and allow them to dry
  • Cut nail sized strips of newspaper and set aside
  • Pour a shot of alcohol and dip your nail in
  • Lay a strip of newspaper over your nail and press down for a few seconds
  • As you peel it off the newsprint should be transferred onto the nail

Repeat with all your nails. Make sure you wait a good while before applying a top coat to avoid smudges. Find a full tutorial here.

4. Flaky crust pies

Cooking is really just science you can eat. Getting a flaky pie crust every time is made easier with this alcohol hack. Adding water to your dough activates the network of proteins that form gluten and too much gluten is a recipe for leathery crusts. Alcohol, however, is a liquid that comprises much less water and will still help bind your dough. It burns off in the oven as well so you can’t taste it or be inebriated after cooking.

Vodka is the top choice for flaky pies but in a pinch, any hard liquor (gin, rum, whisky) will do the trick. Substitute 50% of the water recommended in a recipe with alcohol and never fail to pull off the perfect pie crust. Using a proper pie tin couldn’t hurt either.

5. Shinier hair

If it’s good enough for Catherine Zeta-Jones it’s good enough for us. She often uses a beer rinse to increase the shine and volume of her hair. According to hair experts the natural ingredients in beer like vitamin B, hops, malt and sucrose are great for hydrating your hair and tightening the cuticle. The results? Softer, thicker and glossier hair for styling.

Try rinsing your hair with room-temp beer after a wash. Leave it on for around 3 minutes and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Apply a leave-in conditioner as well if you’re worried about leftover beer scent.

Champagne is another drink that can work wonders on your hair, especially for blondes. The sugar in the drink will break down product buildup which means clearer colour while the alcohol content enhances volume. But the high alcohol content can end up drying your hair if used too often. Rinse champagne out of your locks after no more than 3 minutes and follow up with a light conditioner to prevent dryness.

6. Get rid of odours

It’s vodka to the rescue again! The high alcohol content successfully destroys odour-causing bacteria and makes it useful in more than one sticky situation.

Musty clothing: Anything you’ve left in the cupboard too long can be freshened up with a misting of unflavoured vodka.

Overdid the perfume: Take a cotton bud and dab a little vodka on a few spots you applied perfume to neutralise the scent.

Stinky shoes: Mix half water, half vodka in a spray bottle and generously spritz your old shoes. Leave out in a cool, airy place to dry. You could add a few drops of scented oils if you’d prefer to give them a new scent. Or if your feet are the real issue give them a wipe down with some vodka to clear up sweat and bacteria.

7. Greener looking lawns

What should you do when you’ve let a bunch of beer go flat? You could throw it away, or you could try fixing up your lawn. A popular home ingredient tonic is as follows:

1 beer

1 can of non-diet soda

½ cup mouthwash

½ cup household ammonia

½ cup dish soap

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 10-gallon hose end sprayer. Dampen your lawn with the mixture. Reapply every three weeks.

The main benefits of a beer wash for your lawn is a lusher, greener appearance. If every three weeks feels too often there’s always an evergreen artificial lawn which doesn’t require a green thumb.

8. Streak-free windows and mirrors

How many times have you fallen for the streak-free cleaning promise only to find it doesn’t deliver? The answer has been in your alcohol cabinet all along. After cleaning mirrors or windows with your regular products reach for the vodka to achieve a streak-free finish. Spray vodka directly onto the surface and wipe away with a clean cloth. You should find a shiny, clear reflection staring back at you.

Julia Hammond :Julia Hammond is a lifestyle blogger from Melbourne who currently publishes a weekly content series for the Mydeal.com.au blog. She loves writing about all things health, beauty, travel, fashion and more.