13 Surprising Ways You Can Use Coca-Cola Around The House

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Coca-Cola has been around for more than 135 years and was developed by a pharmacist who declared it could cure common ailments. The original formula contained cocaine, so there may have been some truth to claims that his cola made people feel energetic. That stimulant drug was removed long ago, but the current ingredients make this grocery store staple a useful, multi-purpose product that can be substituted for others around the house.

For example, Coca-Cola Original has high fructose corn syrup, carbonated water, caffeine, and phosphoric acid. Those tiny bubbles and acid are the two things that turn Coke into a household product. Besides food and drink products, phosphoric acid can be found in personal care products, fertilizers, and yes, household cleaners.  3M even makes a  Phosphoric Acid Restroom Cleaner that's recommended for toilet bowls and urinals.

You'll also see phosphoric acid in rust removal products. The acid reacts with rust, making it blackened and easier to remove. The carbon dioxide bubbles add more cleaning power because they also cut through crud and hard water deposits. Plus, the energy created by the phosphates helps plants grow. Diet Coke is also effective and contains another powerful cleaning agent: citric acid. This is weaker than phosphoric acid and is naturally sourced from fruits like limes and lemons. Intrigued? Here are all of the ways to use Coca-Cola around your house.

1. Rust removal

Coca-Cola costs less than commercial rust removal products but doesn't work as fast, so you need a little patience. Also, keep in mind that it can work on surface rust, but it won't be able to reverse the damage if the problem becomes structural. Extensive rust needs to be treated by professionals, so you can turn to auto body shops and restoration experts. 

Coca-Cola will eliminate minor rust stains on metal surfaces, but if you don't want it to fizz up too much when you pour it out, make sure that it's a bit flat. To use it on large items like chrome car bumpers, pour a small amount onto a clean, damp sponge or a folded-up piece of aluminum foil. If using the latter, fold it over enough times to make it strong enough to work with — it has a mild abrasive action. Work the Coke into the rust, gently scrubbing until the rust starts flaking off. Repeat if needed, wipe it away with soap and water, and dry it completely with clean, lint-free towels.

To remove rust from smaller items like tools, nuts, and bolts, place them in a container and pour in enough Coke to cover them completely. Let them soak for 24 hours, and scrub each piece with a non-metal scrubbing pad. You may need to repeat this as well, and it can take a few days until the rust is completely gone.

2. Clean pots and pans

Don't be too upset if you've burnt a favorite cooking pot or pan. We've all been there. But instead of dropping it into the trash, hold onto it and grab a can or bottle of Coca-Cola. Those seemingly impossible-to-remove blackened spots don't have to ruin things. Pour that bubbly stuff onto the charred parts and let it work its way in for a few hours. Then, pour the soda into the sink and gently scrape any residue with a plastic scraper or non-abrasive sponge.

This hack also removes cooked-on grease, so you should be able to see the original shine. But if Coca-Cola only did half the job, pour a little bit more in. Then, add some salt to your cleaning tool and work it into the residue. This added step should make your pots and pans look like new. You can also try Coke and salt on blackened burner pans, too.

3. Tackle greasy clothing stains

Oh, no — that new white shirt has a big grease stain right in the front, courtesy of last night's lo mein. The Coke you drank with it can be brought out of the refrigerator and put to work because that phosphoric acid can break down dried oil on fabrics. However, don't do this on expensive materials like silk and cashmere because you could ruin them. In those cases, taking them to a dry cleaner is the safest move.

With other fabrics like cotton and polyester, pour the soda directly onto the stain and work it in gently with a clean, soft toothbrush or sponge. Let this DIY laundry stain remover sit for about 15 minutes and handwash or toss it in the washing machine. Don't put it in the dryer immediately afterward, though. Check the fabric to see if the stain is still there, and if it is, pretreat and wash again. If the stain dries onto your shirt, removing it'll be much harder. Another option is adding Coca-Cola right into your laundry along with the detergent. It'll boost the cleaning power and make your laundry smell nice.

4. Clean mirrors, windows, and glass

Mirrors, windows, and glasses can get coated with dirt, grime, and hard water spots. The latter happens when water contains higher amounts of minerals like calcium carbonate. The liquid evaporates and white spots are left behind. Citric acid removes all of these unsightly stains, which is why products like Mrs. Meyer's Mirror & Window Cleaner contain it. And since it's also found in Diet Coke, you can swap it out for store-bought glass cleaners and save some money. It will work on household, car mirrors, and eyeglasses, too. You can even try it on drinking glasses and glass shower doors.

To make a homemade Diet Coke mirror and glass cleaner, pour some into a clean, empty spray bottle. Spritz a small amount on the surface and wipe it away with a clean rag. This will leave a sticky residue, but you can wipe that away with warm water.

5. Clean oil stains from driveways and sidewalks

Cars parked outside can leak oil onto driveways, but these stains can also come from lawnmower oil and other kinds of greasy substances. This can really downgrade your curb appeal, but Coca-Cola's acidity can come to the rescue even when the stains have been there for a long time. But for this one, you'll need a few other household items for the best results.

The Coke is used to pretreat the stain, just like with clothing. To get started, pour one can or 12 ounces of it onto the oil mark. Leave it alone until the next day, and pour warm, soapy water over it. While it's still wet, cover the area with an absorbent material like sawdust or cat litter and scrub away with a wire brush. The next step is to sprinkle 1 cup of powdered dish detergent on top. While that's resting, boil a large amount of water and slowly pour that over the detergent. Scrub and rinse again, and the oil stain should be gone. For even more cleaning power, add bleach to the soapy water for the first washdown. And if the stain still doesn't budge, you might need to use a pressure washer.

6. Kill indoor and outdoor bugs

Here's a clever hack that traps and kills fruit flies and other small insects in your home. Cut about one-quarter off the top of an empty Coca-Cola bottle straight across with a utility knife, turn it upside down, and fit it into the bottom. Pour in about 1 cup of fresh Coca-Cola and place this trap close to where the insects are invading. The sweetness of the soda will draw them in, and they will either drown or be unable to escape through the narrow opening. 

Diet Coke is great for killing outdoor pests like mealybugs and aphids. Add the fresh soda into a spray bottle and spritz it directly onto your plants. Coca-Cola can also work, but the sugar will attract ants, and you don't want that. And if you have slugs but no ants, leave a bowl of regular Coke in your garden overnight. The slimy creatures will be attracted to it and be doomed to drown.

7. Clean tile grout

It's now time to take that Coca-Cola into the bathroom because it can also remove grout stains. These develop over time from soap scum, mold, and grime buildup. If you let it go for too long, the grout might have to be removed and regrouted. That's not an easy job, so regular cleanings are recommended.

Store-bought grout cleaners like GooGone can contain ingredients like Benzenesulfonic acid sodium salts, and Coca-Cola's acidity can work similarly. You can use a spray bottle, apply it directly onto the surface with a sponge, or work it in with a clean toothbrush. But since soda can be sticky, don't apply too much of it. Otherwise, it will take longer to clean it up. Give it about 15 minutes and wipe it down with soapy water. Coca-Cola can be used to clean grout in kitchens and other rooms, too.

8. Remove the smell of skunk

Few things smell as bad as skunk spray, and if a skunk ever targeted you, a friend, a family member, or a pet, you know how hard it is to eliminate that intense odor. That's because the spray is produced by the animal's anal glands and contains sulfur, the same chemical that makes hard-boiled eggs smell noxious. Sulfur atoms bond strongly with other atoms, and breaking this connection isn't easy. 

There's more than one way to eliminate this powerful smell, including hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda and dishwashing liquid. But if you don't have all three handy, just use Coca-Cola. You will likely need several 2-liter bottles for heavy skunk sprays. Pour the soda into the bathtub, remove your clothes, and use a large container to pour it all over your body. Dump it on your hair, too, if it was sprayed. You can also soak your skunked clothing in Coca-Cola, as it will also remove the odor from the fabric. Wash yourself and your clothes afterward with soap and water to remove the residue.

9. Make your garden grow

Experienced gardeners rave about the benefits of composting, and believe it or not, Coca-Cola is the perfect addition. Composting piles include natural things like leaves and kitchen scraps, which decompose naturally over time. The aged ingredients are then added to the soil, and the nutrients get recycled into the ground, helping plants thrive. 

So why would you add Coca-Cola to a composting pile? The sugars in the soda attract microorganisms that work on breaking down the natural ingredients. And on top of that, the acidity speeds up the process. The soda can be fresh or flat and poured into the pile once a week. Acid-loving plants like rhododendrons and azaleas might also benefit from a drink of Coke once in a while. Pour some into the surrounding soil to reduce the pH level. Some gardeners also claim that Coca-Cola is also a good weed killer, so that might be an added benefit.

10. Remove ink stains

Ink stains are another household problem with many possible solutions, and some people successfully use hairspray, dish detergent, rubbing alcohol, or Coke. No matter the method, the first step is to remove any ink on your hands. You can try scrubbing them with Coke and then rinsing them with soap and water. Dry off with paper towels, but repeat the process when you still see ink stains on the towels after wiping.

If the ink is still wet, blot it carefully with a clean, dry paper towel, taking care not to push the ink into the material. Then, pour a small amount of Coca-Cola into a container, and gently dab it onto the mark. You can also sprinkle on a bit of salt and use cotton balls for the dabbing. For clothing ink stains, apply the Coke and blot on both sides of the fabric. Once the stain has disappeared, launder as usual.

11. Clean your swimming pool fixtures

Coming back around to the topic of pH levels, the correct one for a swimming pool ranges from 7 to 7.6. If it's too low, the water might sting the eyes. And if it's too high, it can cause rashes. But if you think that pouring Coke right into the pool is a good idea, stop. Mixing cola and chlorine produces dangerous chlorine gas that could damage your lungs. 

But all is not lost since Coca-Cola is fine for cleaning pool fixtures and handrails. That phosphorus acid can clean and shine them and remove any rust spots. It can also remove any hard water (limescale) stains that you find. Be careful to avoid getting the soda into the pool water, and be sure to test it often for safety. It's also best to keep food and drink out of the pool, although a small spill shouldn't do any real damage.

12. Strip paint from metal surfaces

When you want to remove paint from metal surfaces, reach for a bottle or can of Coca-Cola. If the paint isn't too old or stubborn, you might be able to soak a towel in the soda and use it to rub the paint off. Smaller items can just be soaked in the stuff. If this doesn't work after a few passes, you can try heating the surface with a heat gun or hairdryer before applying the Coke.

Once the paint has softened and flakes, you can remove it with a paint scraper or putty knife. If the paint doesn't budge, you might need to use a sander or an angle grinder. And for the best results, wipe down the surfaces with mineral spirits once the paint has been removed. But don't pour Coke on wood because it can leave stains!

13. Clean the john

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, Coca-Cola is a versatile cleaner that can also be used inside toilet bowls. You can use it in the same way as store-bought toilet cleaning products. To use it correctly, pour the liquid into an empty toilet cleaner bottle or another container with a nozzle. That way, you can aim it beneath the rim, where much of the bacteria and other crud accumulates. It'll then drip down into the sides of the bowl.

Squirt the Coke all around underneath the rim, but don't flush. Close the lid and put a note on there, reminding everyone in the house not to use it. Allow it to fizz and work overnight. The following day, all you have to do is flush. If the bowl isn't sparkling clean, pour in a bit more and scrub with a toilet brush. And if you have stained teacups and coffee mugs, a good Coca-Cola soaking can also tackle those with ease.