You may think beer’s good for drinking. Well, cheers to that, but there are other really good uses you can put beer to, so you’d better get another round in.
You see, beer’s got alcohol in it. No kidding, right? The point is, alcohol has amazing cleaning properties, which is why rubbing alcohol features in cleaning cupboards all over the world.
The fact that this is in a drinkable form means that the alcohol is weaker, but it still packs a punch.
So, is beer good for cleaning, and what can you use it on? Yes, it can be good for cleaning, and you can use it on a wide variety of things, as we’ll see.
Uses for Beer in Cleaning
1. Treating carpet stains
If you’ve gone and got coffee or tea on the carpet, you’d normally reach for the carpet cleaner and let it do its restorative thing.
But – oh no! – we’ve run out of carpet cleaner and that stain’s spreading. Make a lunge fridge-wards and get yourself a can of beer. No, not to drown your sorrows with. You’re going to administer that brew onto the carpet as it’s a handy carpet stain hack.
Start with a bit of carpet that’s nice and out of sight, just to make sure it doesn’t end up looking worse than the original stain did (tip – use lighter beer. Stout and porter are dark enough to make a light carpet go positively off-colour).
Then pour a small snifter onto the stain and blot it with a clean cloth. You’ll then need to use a little soap and water to lift any beer residue from the carpet afterwards. Or your lounge will end up with a distinctive aroma and you’ll end up with a distinctive reputation.
So no, it’s not the most straightforward stain-away op, but it’s a great stand-in when other carpet cleaners are AWOL.
Your only problem at the end of the job is knowing what to do with any leftover beer. No, not much of a problem, really.
2. Furniture polishing
Here’s a great use for leftover beer, as it needs to be flat for best effect. Pour a little on a soft clean dry cloth and rub it into the grain to give your wooden furniture a deeply nourishing treat.
As ever, test it on an inconspicuous part of the piece first, just in case this grain doesn’t agree with that grain. In general though, beer is an excellent polish alternative.
3. Shining copper
Copper’s one of those metals that looks amazing when clean and downright awful when tarnished.
There are lots of copper cleaning methods you can try but one of the best ways to help it stay on the shiny side of life by giving it a beer bath.
Soak it in the suds for 10 minutes or so, then rub it all over with a soft cloth.
You can also give particular areas of tarnish a boozy buffing by applying a little on a soft cloth and rubbing that blemish away.
4. Removing rust
A burst of fizz from a beer can help break up rust, so if you’re struggling with an oxidised screw, try pouring some beer straight from the can or bottle onto the offending area, leave the carbonation to do its thing, then give it another try.
The same effervescence we just mentioned will do a remarkable job of giving your spigot some sparkle. So, for tip-top taps, rub on a little beer, rinse off, and get a load of that shine.
6. Sanitising toilets and keeping drains fresh
In some households, this will be heresy, but a lot of good can be done by pouring beer down the drain. No, we don’t mean in a Prohibition-era style frenzy. We mean as a means of keeping drains fresh.
The alcohol in the beer will help to sanitise areas such as this, and can even be a clog-easing method, too. So, if you’ve got a drain that needs cleaning, give it a drink.
You can clean and sanitise a toilet brush with beer too. Leave to soak for an hour or more and you’ll have a brush to be proud of.
Other Household Uses for Beer
Beer’s associated with a nice head, but not necessarily in this way. Whack it on your hair to give it some body.
This takes a little prep, as follows. Heat some beer in a pan on the stove, leaving it to boil off about ¾ of its total volume. This will get rid of the alcohol as well as concentrate the nutrient-rich part of the liquid.
Then mix with shampoo in a 3:1 ratio, leaving you with about the same volume of liquid that you started with. Use on your hair as normal and get ready to toast your luscious locks.
Give your tired feed a tonic, not with a G&T, but with a refreshing footbath. Next time you’ve had a hard day, try this on your weary soles.
Put some warm water in a bowl – enough to cover your feet – then pour half a bottle of beer in there too.
The enzymes within will help soften skin, going to work on calluses while you set about sipping away at the rest of the bottle.
Apart from the obvious, beer’s also good for helping you get to sleep. No, I said apart from the obvious. It’s the hops’ effect we’re after here, not the alcohol’s.
Wash your pillowcase with half a cup of high-hop beer (IPA’s a good bet) mixed in with your laundry detergent, and you’ll be hopping off to happyland in no time at all.
So long slugs!
It’s not often that the innocent “what’s your poison?” query can actually have deadly consequences. When you ask slugs, they’ll instantly thrust their hands up for beer.
No, you don’t often see their hands. They normally keep them in their pockets, unless they get excited, like they do at the mention of beer.
So, put sunken troughs in your flower beds and fill them with beer. Yes, the slugs will drink it. Yes, they will drown in it. Yes, they will die happy.
Break Out the Beer
Beer’s qualities as a household help are not as well-known as its more renowned cleanliness-crusading cupboard-mates, such as bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, but it deserves to be more celebrated, and not just for its role in celebrations.
As Plato once philosophically remarked when supping in an Athens high street boozer, “He is a wise man who invented beer”. That wisdom extended to bestowing on us a supremely versatile cleaner, which warrants our warm (or chilled) appreciation.
So, for an ale-purpose cleaning agent that’ll never leave you bitter, let’s raise a glass to beer.
Martin’s life revolves around films, dogs and food, but rarely all at the same time. At least two out of these three like to give clothes and furniture a hard time, and Martin enjoys discovering and writing about new ways to stop them doing their worst.