By Ande Waggener
Some people, like my husband, love to drink cola. Some people, like me, don’t care for it. But whether you want to drink it or not, you might have heard that cola soft drinks (such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi) have uses that have nothing to do with quenching your thirst.
I learned most of these cola tricks from a friend who works in the deli section of our local grocery store. She said she and her coworkers use cola for all sorts of cleaning tasks both on the job and at home.
Are these uses for real or are they a myth? I did some testing, and I discovered how to use cola around the house in seven ways that are actually pretty helpful. Now instead of nagging my husband for drinking too much cola, I can just pilfer a few cans or bottles from his supply and use them to help me take care of tasks around our home.
Here are seven ways you can use cola for common household tasks.
1. Clean Pots and Pans
If you cook, you need to know how to remove cooked-on foods from your pots and pans without exerting a ton of elbow grease. Cola can be a surprising helper in this war against blackened cookware. Just soak the blackened area in cola for at least an hour. (Leave it overnight for heavily-blackened cookware.) Then use a scrubber to scour away the mess. No, the cola doesn’t magically remove the cooked-on food, but it does loosen it up enough that it requires very little effort to scrub a pot or pan clean.
If you ever burned food inside a pan or pot, try pouring an inch or so of cola into the pot, let it simmer for 20 minutes or more, and then scrub it clean. I haven’t tried this myself, but my friend swears by this method for undoing what she calls “stupid cook” mistakes.
2. Unclog a Drain
Do you have a clogged drain and no drain cleaner? Try this cola trick. To unclog a drain with cola, pour a can or bottle of cola down the drain and don’t use the drain for at least a half hour. Then flush it with hot water.
This cola trick won’t work for really tough clogs, but it’s quite effective for moderate clogs. The fact that this trick really does work gives me great cause for concern about my husband’s digestive system. He’s not fazed though. He continues to drink cola.
3. Remove Marker Stains
If you’ve ever been using a permanent marker and had it slip from your hands and onto the carpet, this next trick could help you out. Of course, the business end of the marker is what hits the floor first. And now you have a marker stain on your carpet. What to do? Well, get out the cola, of course.
Yeah, it’s not the first thing I would have thought of either. But believe it or not, it works. Just pour a bit of cola on the marker stain. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Scrub the stain out. Then clean the spot with a little soapy water (to remove the sticky residue left behind by the cola). If the spot isn’t gone after the first time you do this, repeat the process. The second time around finished the job when I used this technique to remove a streak of permanent marker from my carpet.
4. Clean the Toilet Bowl
Just as it concerns me that cola unclogs a drain, the fact that it does a better job of cleaning mineral deposits from the toilet bowl than many commercial toilet bowl cleaners is even more disturbing. But my husband’s soda-drinking habits aside, I do love what cola does in my toilet because I love effective, chemical-free cleaning. All you need to do to clean a toilet with cola is pour it around the inside of the bowl, as far up under the rim as you can. (Try using an old turkey baster to shoot it up under the rim — just don’t use that baster in the kitchen again!) Then let the cola sit for an hour or longer. Scrub and flush.
When you use cola in the toilet, however, be aware that although cola can remove mineral and rust stains, it doesn’t kill bacteria. Also, it will leave a sticky residue in the toilet if you don’t thoroughly rinse it, and that residue can lead to even more bacteria. Only use cola in conjunction with other cleaners that will kill bacteria.
5. Remove Grease or Blood Stains
Getting greasy stains and blood stains out of clothes is always a challenge. I shudder to think of the amount of money I’ve spent on stain removers over the years. If only I’d known what I could do with cola. I recently tried this cola trick after I got a greasy stain on a shirt I like, and it worked like a charm. All you need to do to use cola to remove a grease or blood stain is soak the stain in cola (I did it overnight just to be sure), and then wash the garment as usual.
6. Remove Gas or Oil Odors from Fabrics
Have you ever spilled gas on your clothes? If you have, you probably found out that just throwing the clothes in the wash wasn’t enough to get the smell out.
My husband used to work in a bowling alley, and he spent hours working with the lane oils and lubricating oils used in the pin-setting equipment. When he came home, his clothes would reek of oil. Regular washing didn’t remove the smell. When I went looking for a solution, I was shocked to find cola coming to the rescue.
All you have to do to remove the smell of gas or oil from fabrics is pour a cup or two of cola in the washing machine as it fills with water. Then add your smelly clothes and regular laundry detergent, and let the washing machine do its thing. The fabrics will come out smelling clean.
7. Remove Oil Stains from the Garage Floor
Oil stains on garage floors are something most of us just live with. My old solution was to cover them with cardboard and pretend they weren’t there. Now, however, I know that if I want the stain gone, and if I’m willing to exert just a bit of effort, I can remove the stain with the help of some cola.
To get an oil stain off the garage floor, pour cola over the stain. Let it sit overnight. Blot up any liquid that remains in the morning, and then scrub the area with some soap and water (so you don’t leave stickiness on the floor). For really old oil stains, you’ll need to repeat this process a couple of times.
If you do an Internet search for “uses for cola,” you’ll find many more ideas for using cola around the house. If you want to know if they work, you’ll have to try them out on your own. I can only attest to the above seven cola tricks. They definitely helped out around my home.
Have you discovered other household uses for cola? Please share what worked for you in the comments below!
Images used with permission, courtesy of Ande Waggener