7 Surprising Uses for Vodka

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Because as versatile a liquid as vodka is in a glass—pairing as well with tomato juice as it does orange juice—it’s equally multipurpose in a non-drinking setting.

1. ALL-PURPOSE CLEANSER

No Windex? No problem. As a natural disinfectant, all it takes is a quick transfer from liquor bottle to spray bottle to turn vodka into an amazingly powerful all-purpose cleanser that tackles everything from windows and mirrors to countertops and cabinets.

2. DEODORIZER

Typically, spilling a cocktail on yourself would be a good indicator that it’s time to switch to water. But a spritz of vodka on your clothing, be it a musty old sweater or your favorite pair of gym shoes, can actually help freshen you up as it kills odor-causing bacteria on the spot (without leaving any chemical-like scent).

3. MOLD AND MILDEW REMOVER

Vodka’s antimicrobial properties make it a worthy opponent against mold and mildew. The best part? The cheaper the bottle, the less filtered it’s likely to be, which is good news when it comes to killing mold (but not so great when it comes to potential hangovers).

4. INSECT REPELLENT

While several studies have shown that drinking beer can make you more prone to mosquito bites, a quick way to help repel those pesky insects is by spraying yourself with vodka. Just make sure it’s not one of the flavored (read: sugary) kind. Though straight-up is the most effective method, because it can leave a scent that lingers, there are a variety of recipes online to make this repellent more palatable to the nose.

5. WEED KILLER

Vodka can help to eliminate garden weeds, but it needs the assistance of the sun. Reader’s Digest suggests mixing one ounce of vodka with two cups of water and a few drops of dish soap, to be applied “at midday on a sunny day to weeds growing in direct sunlight, because the alcohol breaks down the waxy cuticle covering on leaves, leaving them susceptible to dehydration in sunlight. It won’t work in shade.”

6. FLOWER LIFE-EXTENDER

A shot of vodka can be a vase full of fresh flowers’ best friend. North Carolina State University horticulture professor John Dole says that adding some vodka in with water can help flowers stay fresher longer, most likely as a result of inhibiting ethylene production. As with your own vodka consumption, just don’t overdo it: “Plants—like many people—can only tolerate small concentrations of alcohol,” according to Scientific American.

7. DANDRUFF REMOVER

From frizz to dandruff, vodka has become a go-to solution for a variety of hair care problems. “Vodka has a low pH level and is naturally acidic, which when added to conditioner can help maintain and lower a high pH level found in the hair,” says Warren-Tricomi stylist Marc Mena. “[It] has the ability to seal the hair cuticle which will manage and reduce the appearance of frizz, resulting in softer and shinier strands.” Adding a shot of vodka to your bottle of shampoo can also help in relieving itchy scalps, thus reducing dandruff.

Oregon Launches the Country's First State-Wide Refillable Beer Bottle Program

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Being a frequent beer drinker doesn't just affect your waistline. It's also not good for the environment—all those cans and bottles add up. But Oregonians soon won't have to feel guilty for the bottles piling up in their trash cans, because the state just launched the first state-wide refillable beer bottle program in the U.S., as NPR and EarthFix report.

Oregon breweries are selling their beer in thicker, heavier beer bottles that customers can return to be cleaned and refilled, just like the milk bottles of yore. Seven craft breweries whose beers are available in stores across the state are currently participating in the refillable bottle program, but the distinct bottles can be used and refilled at any brewery in the state, and the program will likely expand in the coming years.

The bottles, stamped with the word "refillable," are made from recycled glass and can be reused up to 40 times. The design was developed by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, and customers can drop them off at any of the group's 21 redemption centers. The organization also runs the state's general container deposit-refund system, so customers can bring them to the same locations as any other recyclables.

The thicker shape allows them to be separated out from other recyclables that get dropped off at bottle deposit sites, ensuring that they get sorted out to be refilled rather than recycled with standard glass bottles.

Oregon passed the first state bottle bill in the nation in 1971 as a way to encourage recycling. In 2018, the state increased the bottle deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents, hoping to increase redemptions. About 73 percent of metal, glass, and plastic recyclables were actually redeemed in 2017, up from 64 percent in 2016.

While refillable beverage containers aren't the norm in the U.S., other countries are far ahead of us. Some provinces in Canada have nearly a 99 percent return rate for their refillable bottles, and the average bottle is reused 15 times. Most beer in Germany is sold in mehrweg, or reusable, bottles, and consumers can return them to any store that sells reusable-bottle beer to get their deposit back.

Though the Oregon program is an environmental boon, the carbon savings won't be as high as they could be. Oregon doesn't yet have a bottle washing facility to process the refillables, so they currently have to be shipped to Montana for washing. Eventually, the program will set up some of these washing facilities in-state, increasing its utility.

[h/t NPR]

Spoiler: You’re Probably Storing Your Wine Wrong

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If you love wine, you should invest in a wine rack. No, not because of the space-saving potential or how good it will look in your kitchen. It will make your wine last longer and taste better.

According to Lifehacker, the proper way to store a bottle of wine is on its side, at least if the wine has a cork. That's because if you store a bottle upright, the cork can dry out. When a bottle is stored sideways, there's always liquid coming into contact with the cork. This keeps the cork expanded, ensuring the bottle's tight seal. If the cork dries out, it can shrink, letting air get into the wine, causing it to age prematurely and taste less than delicious.

Note that this only applies to bottles with real corks. You can store your screw-top wine bottles any way you'd like, since you don’t have to worry about the seal.

The sideways method does have its critics—notably, a major cork producer in Portugal recently questioned the storage technique's efficacy, saying that the humidity within the bottle will keep the cork moist no matter what. However, other wine experts maintain that sideways is the way to go.

Wine aficionados have a few other tips when it comes to storage. Essentially, you want to mimic the environment of a wine cellar as much as possible. You want to keep your wine in a cool place away from light. The environment should be humid, helping to keep the cork sealed tight. Vibrations can also affect wines, so you want to keep your bottles from clanking around.

Once you've opened a bottle of wine, you want to make sure it stays fresh. If you're not going to drink it all in one sitting, make sure to replace the cork. While it's much easier to stick the clean side back in the bottle first, make sure to replace the cork as it was, meaning the stain side down. The top of the cork has been exposed to the elements for the bottle's entire lifespan, so it may be tainted, and you don't want that coming into contact with your wine. (Or just invest in a wine stopper.) And, because wine likes cool environments, make sure to stick it in the fridge once it's opened—yes, even if it's a red.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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