The Secret Miracle Cleaner You’ve Had in Your Apartment Since College

published Mar 24, 2018
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(Image credit: Diana Liang)

When you’re looking for an effective cleaner, most of us would love to find something inexpensive, non-toxic and — while we’re being picky — something we already have at home. Often white vinegar, the darling of every DIY cleaning maven, fits the bill. But some people just cannot stand the smell.

So can we suggest another substance to fulfill your green clean dreams? One that you may have buried in your freezer or pantry (or out on the bar cart) already?

Cheap vodka is an odorless, colorless and, it turns out, quite potent and multi-purpose cleaner. Because of its alcohol content, obviously caution is required around kids and pets. But it’s vodka’s alcohol content that gives it disinfectant properties that come in handy all over the house.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

All-purpose cleaning

Vodka is good at cutting grease and also evaporates quickly. Pour some in a spray bottle and use it everywhere for general cleaning. Add some essential oils if you’d like to add a pleasant scent.

Bathroom cleaner

A bit of vodka on a sponge or rag is great for removing soap scum and water spots in the bathroom.

Glass cleaner

Vodka evaporates quickly, making it an ideal glass and mirror cleaner. Spray and wipe thoroughly with a microfiber cloth.

Sticky label remover

Dab vodka onto stuck-on gunk with a cotton ball, let it sit for a bit to saturate the goo, and then scrape off with your fingernails.


Mix a 1:1 solution of water and vodka and spray on grease splatters around the range hood, stove top, and countertops.

Cutting board disinfectant

Give thoroughly washed cutting boards a spritz with vodka for an extra germ-busting boost before a final rinse.

Jewelry cleaner

Soak diamond jewelry (or any other hearty stones like emeralds) in vodka to loosen dirt and debris and then scrub gently with a soft toothbrush. But b careful — you don’t want to use vodka with opals, pearls, or other delicate gems that could be damaged.

Refresh musty towels

When towels smell not-so-fresh even after washing, try giving them a soak in water and one third of a cup of vodka.

Protect plants from aphids

If one of your houseplants suffers from an aphid infestation, wipe off the leaves with water and then dab on some vodka with a cotton ball. (Don’t use on delicate leaves like those of an African Violet.)

(Image credit: Quentin Bacon)

Linen spray

For a lightly scented linen spray, add a few drops of lavender essential oil (or your scent of choice) to your cheap vodka and mist lightly onto sheets and pillows.

Stop the spread of poison ivy

Pour vodka directly onto the affected area to rinse away the poisonous, itch-causing plant oil.

Mold and mildew killer

Spray straight vodka onto mold- or mildew-affected areas, let it sit, and wipe clean.

Weed killer

Mix vodka with a few drops of liquid dish soap for a homemade weed killer.


To freshen clothes that need it before you’re able to or when you can’t wash them (think campfire smoke-imbued clothes, hoodies that could use a quick underarm treatment, or the insides of funky-smelling shoes you can’t wash), mist lightly with undiluted vodka.

Prolong the life of cut flowers

Mix a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar in your flowers’ water to inhibit bacterial growth and provide some food.