Can Alka-Seltzer Really Double As An Effective All-Purpose Cleaner? Our Cleaning Expert Weighs In

We're always looking for new ways to keep our homes sparkling — preferably with fewer chemicals involved. So when word went around that Alka-Seltzer could serve as an alternative cleaning agent, we had to know: does it really work? House Digest turned to Housewife How-Tos cleaning expert and author of "30 Days to a Clean and Organized House," Katie Berry, for her thoughts.

"It helps to remember that Alka-Seltzer is citric acid and baking soda pressed together to form a tablet," Berry said of the medication. "When added to water, these ingredients come in contact and create carbon dioxide — a fizzing reaction very similar to what you get when combining vinegar and baking soda." 

From personal experience, the fizzing effect can help break up messes like those in a toilet bowl. In that respect, Alka-Seltzer can be helpful, though Berry notes that the tablets aren't a perfect solution. 

Alka-Seltzer isn't a disinfectant

Alka-Seltzer has other household benefits, but that isn't its intended purpose. Since the tablets aren't meant for cleansing, they aren't built with disinfecting in mind. Cleaning expert Katie Berry exclusively spoke with House Digest about how we can still use Alka-Seltzer as a cleaning tool ... with a small added agent after the fact. 

"That last bit is important to keep in mind: Alka-Seltzer isn't a disinfectant," Berry said. "So depending on where you use it, you may need to rinse, then apply disinfectant too. That's not much of a time-saver and, given the cost of Alka-Seltzer tablets, unless you have extras sitting around after your kid grows out of needing a retainer, it's not a very cost-effective cleaner, either."

On top of needing an additional disinfectant, Berry warned that it's vital to recognize the surface that you're washing. She said that citric acid-based agents, like Alka-Seltzer, shouldn't be used on unfinished metal, raw stone, or unsealed grout. 

Best uses for Alka-Seltzer in cleaning

Okay, so Alka-Seltzer isn't a perfect cleaning alternative. That doesn't mean it can't have practical applications in your arsenal, though! Cleaning expert Katie Berry exclusively told House Digest that there are a lot of ways to use these tablets in everyday chores. 

"... Alka-Seltzer is ideal for loosening stubborn grime in things like crusty vases, grimy sinks, or burnt food stuck in pans," she explained. "... You can pop it into smelly reusable water bottles to clean and deodorize them, or add it to a sink of water to deodorize smelly flip flops." Thanks to the fizzing action of the tablets interacting with water, they're perfect for messes that involve a lot of scrubbing. 

They are definitely still an excellent alternative to some harsh chemical degreasers too. Alka-Seltzer tables will be kinder to your dishes if you use them as scrubbing power. The next time you need a washing partner, try checking your medicine cabinet before you run out to buy more cleaning supplies!