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Alka Seltzer Makes a Surprisingly Helpful Cleaning Tool

Alka Seltzer is a popular over-the-counter medication, but it can also be used to clean, brighten, and refresh a number of places around your home. Whether you’ve got to remove odors from a smelly fridge, brighten white clothing, or remove coffee stains, a few tablets of Alka Seltzer can replace and work even better than traditional cleaners. Read on to find out the specifics of what and how you can clean with this medicine cabinet staple.

What is Alka Seltzer anyway?

Alka Seltzer Tablet Dissolving
Image source: Ebarella_R/ Flickr

Alka Seltzer is a fizzy tablet that dissolves easily in water. It works as a pain reliever and an antacid in one. Each tablet contains sodium bicarbonate, aspirin, and citric acid. This over-the-counter medication is used for a variety of minor ailments, such as heartburn, indigestion, body aches, headaches, or flu symptoms, which makes it an incredibly popular medication.

To give you a perspective of just how common it is, just know that Bayer, the producer of Alka Seltzer, sells over 2,5 billion tablets of this medication per year in the United States alone.

Dropping a table of Alka Seltzer in a glass of water
And not all of it is going to relieve acid reflux or body aches, as this medication also has a wide range of uses around the home. The ingredients and the fizziness of these tablets make them a surprisingly versatile yet gentle cleaning agent. So whenever you’re out of your usual cleaner for the following household items, you can use a few tablets of Alka Seltzer.

Clearing a drain

Alka Seltzer Uses Clearing a drain

When you’re dealing with a clogged or slow-draining sink, a few tablets of Alka Seltzer can help restore water flow. The combination of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate creates a fizzing action that’s able to break down grease that often causes blockages.

Directions: Drop 3-4 tablets of Alka Seltzer into the drain and top it off with 1 cup of white vinegar. Let the tablets work for 10 minutes, then open the tap and flush out the pipes with hot water.


Related article: 11 Things Notorious for Clogging Up the Kitchen Sink


Remove stains from plastic containers

Alka Seltzer Uses Remove stains from plastic containers

Plastic food containers are great for storing food, but they can get stained by orange, yellow, or red foods. The resulting yellow stain can be impossible to eliminate with regular dish soap. This discoloration can be cleaned up with 1-2 tablets of Alka Seltzer. 

Directions: Fill the stained container with warm water. Then add 1-2 tablets of Alka Seltzer depending on the side of the container. Let the mixture do its magic for 30-60 minutes, and then rinse the container with warm water. Et voila, the annoying orange stain will be completely eliminated.

Cleaning thermoses, water bottles, and narrow containers

Alka Seltzer Uses Cleaning thermoses, water bottles, and narrow containers

Thermoses, water bottles, vases, and pitchers can be ridiculously tough to clean on the inside. So what do you do to remove any stains or odors? Instead of buying specialized brushes, use a few tablets of Alka Seltzer. It’s so much easier!

Directions: Just fill the dirty container with hot water and then drop 2-3 tablets of Alka Seltzer inside. Wait for an hour, and then rinse your water bottle with more lukewarm water. All dirt and odors will be banished for good.

Remove coffee stains from cups and furniture

Alka Seltzer Uses Remove coffee stains from cups and furniture

Did you notice coffee rings on your white desk? Or maybe you paid attention to the inside of your favorite coffee mug, which is now a brownish color. These brown stains can be difficult to remove without any bleaching agents, but you don’t want to use bleach on cups or furniture because it’s too harsh. Instead, we recommend Alka Seltzer. Since it’s very slightly abrasive, it can be more effective than dish soap but is still a gentle detergent.

Directions: Fill the dirty mug with lukewarm water, then drop 1 tablet of Alka Seltzer in the mug. Wait for 10 minutes, and then rinse the mug. It should be as good as new. 

For removing coffee stains on furniture, use a solution of 1 tablet of Alka Seltzer per 1 cup of water. Apply the solution to the stain with a sponge, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and then wipe it away and you’re done.

Get rid of fridge odors

Alka Seltzer Uses

An old refrigerator may be smelly even if you clean it every week. In this case, you need some kind of odor-absorbing cleaning agent to make the unpleasant smells vanish. Alka Seltzer is especially effective at this task.

Directions: Dilute 1 tablet of Alka Seltzer in 1 cup of water, then place the cup with the solution in the refrigerator for about 30-60 minutes. If there are any remaining odors, dilute another tablet in another cup of water, and use the solution to wipe down the walls and shelves of the fridge. You can also repeat this process every 1-2 weeks to prevent unpleasant smells from building up in the future.


Related article: How to Get Rid of Bad Odors In Your Fridge


Deep-cleaning the coffee maker

Alka Seltzer Uses Deep-cleaning the coffee maker

The water dispensing system of all coffee machines must be cleaned and descaled 1-2 times every year. Still, the descaling tablets available for coffee makers tend to be quite harsh and full of chemicals. For a milder method that won’t harm your body or the environment, use Alka Seltzer.

Directions: Drop 3 tablets of Alka Seltzer in the full water chamber of a coffee maker. Once the tablets have dissolved, run the coffee machine without any coffee on either the descaling cycle or the regular brew cycle until no water remains. Then rinse the water chamber with lukewarm water, and your machine will be ready to run. The fizzy liquid will gently clean the internal system of the coffee machine, and you may even notice that it starts working more efficiently afterwards.

An effective all-purpose cleaner

Alka Seltzer Uses An effective all-purpose cleaner

If you’re running low on your usual all-purpose cleaner, you can use Alka Seltzer in a pinch. 

Directions: Drop 3 tablets of Alka Seltzer into a spray bottle filled with 8 ounces of water. Shake and let the liquid foam up. Then use this mixture to wipe down any solid surface that needs cleaning, be it the counter, living room furniture, or tile. If you have any leftover liquid, you can also use it to clean the floors. It’s truly universal.

Purify a smelly cooler

Alka Seltzer Uses Purify a smelly cooler

Opening the picnic season often comes with unpleasant surprises. One common issue is a foul odor from a cooler that’s been closed all winter. Most people will just rinse it out with some dish soap and water, but we think that Alka Seltzer may actually be superior. 

Directions: Fill the bottom of the cooler with 2-3 inches of warm water. Then add 3-4 tablets of Alka Selzer. Let the tablets dissolve, and leave the mixture in the cooler for another 30-60 minutes. Then rinse the cooler, and you’re done.

Scrub away burnt-on food residue

Alka Seltzer Uses Scrub away burnt-on food residue

We all love our bacon and eggs with a delicious golden crust, but baked-on residue may choose to develop on the bottom of the frying pan too. What can you do to remove burnt-on food from nonstick pans, glass dishes, or stainless steel pots without scratching the surface? We think you know the secret ingredient, so let’s get straight to the technique… 

Directions: Fill your kitchen sink with warm water, and then add 5-6 tablets of Alka Seltzer to the mix. Soak the dirty cookware in this liquid solution for 1 hour. Part of the baked-on food residue will slide off on its own, but you can lightly scrub the remaining bits off with a sponge. Rinse the cookware with lukewarm water, and your pots and pans will be spick and span.

Related article: How to Remove Burnt-on Food Residue From Pots and Pans


Make glassware shine

Alka Seltzer Uses Make glassware shine
Even if all your cookware is in pristine condition, you may have a few glasses with white calcium water residue or persistent wine stains. Repeat the same steps in the method above, rinsing your glassware in the sink with some Alka Seltzer water, and the glass will shine like brand new. For an extra punch, you can also add 1 cup of white vinegar into the mix. Don’t worry about the smell, the vinegar odor will dissipate very quickly.

Relieve insect bites

Alka Seltzer Uses Relieve insect bites

This next method isn’t really about cleaning the house, but we just had to include it anyway because it’s so clever and effective. Alka Seltzer can relieve the maddening itch and swelling after insect bites. The citric acid in the tablets is also effective at cleaning the wound, whereas the remaining ingredients will help diminish itching and inflammation.

Directions: Drop 2 tablets of Alka Seltzer into 1 cup of warm water. Once dissolved, take a cotton ball and soak it in the solution. Apply to the insect bite and secure the cotton ball with a bandage for around 30 minutes. You should notice relief almost instantly.

Remove water stains from the toilet bowl

Alka Seltzer Uses Remove water stains from the toilet bowl

Some of us live in areas with hard water. This can be annoying, as some hard-water residue may appear as unsightly yellow stains in the bathroom, sink, and toilet bowl. Luckily, the citric acid in Alka Seltzer can do wonders for these types of stains, including the difficult-to-reach areas of the toilet. Moreover, the tablets will also help reduce odors too!

Directions: Drop 2-3 tablets of Alka Selzer into the toilet. Let them dissolve, and use the toilet brush to coat the inside of the toilet bowl, especially the stained areas, with the fizzy solution. Wait for 20-30 minutes, and then brush the residue away with a toilet brush again. Then flush to rinse everything, and your toilet should look as clean as new.

Refresh jewelry

Alka Seltzer Uses Refresh jewelry

Cleaning jewelry is a touchy subject, as using the wrong product can tarnish your favorite jewelry. Just so you know, you can save some cash on professional jewelry cleaning by using Alka Seltzer. The fizzy tablets make a gentle yet effective jewelry cleaner that’s also very affordable.

Note: This method should not be used for opals and pearls because the acidic liquid can ruin them.

Directions: Combine 2 tablets of Alka Seltzer in 1 cup of warm water in a deep bowl. Place the jewelry into the bowl for up to 20 minutes, then empty the bowl and rinse your jewelry. Finish by drying and polishing the jewelry with a clean towel, and watch your precious pieces shine again.

Brighten white garments

Alka Seltzer Uses Brighten white garments

White linens and clothes will turn yellow or grey over time, and using bleach doesn’t always help either. While it’s true that there are specialized laundry products that can help with this type of discoloration, why not try a home remedy before you spend money on a product you’ll only use once in a lifetime? If you have a few Alka-Seltzer tablets left in the medicine cabinet, try this trick. 

Directions: Dissolve 2 Alka Selzer tablets in a gallon of warm water, and soak the garments in this solution for 30 minutes. For stained underarms or collars, gently rub these areas to let the solution penetrate deep into the fabric fibers. Finish by washing the garments in the washing machine as usual. The clothes will come out of the washer bright white, and we recommend that you air-dry them in the sun to lift the color even further.

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