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Add It to a Load of Laundry to Sleep Better — and 15 Other Surprising Uses for Stale Beer

Put that leftover, stale beer to good use around the house, in your beauty routine, for cooking and more.

Next time you discover a forgotten six-pack that’s gone stale or realize as you’re cleaning up empties that some, well, aren’t completely empty, don’t automatically toss out the golden brew. It turns out leftover or stale beer can come in handy in a number of ways. We talked to cooking, cleaning and beauty experts to find out just how you can use leftover brew to tackle the peskiest of problems. Whether you’re a fan of light beer, lager, amber or IPAs, your leftover beer will certainly be put to good use!

Stale beer gives hair extra shine

If your hair is looking a bit lackluster, skip pricey store-bought products to revitalize them. Beer, especially darker ales, can give your hair a glossy shine due to the vitamins and natural sugars it contains,” says beauty professional Anna Peterson, creator of Salon Route, an online salon guide. “Simply rinse your hair with flat beer, leave it for a few minutes, then wash it out.”

Stale beer lifts tea stains from carpeting

Oops! You accidentally stumbled while carrying your glass of iced tea, and now there’s a noticeable stain on your carpet. To remove the stain, pour just enough stale beer to wet the area, then blot with a soft cloth and cool water until the spot disappears. (Be sure to spot-test in a small area first.) Beer’s carbonic acid loosens tea’s tannins so they can be lifted from carpet fibers. (Click through for more ways to lift stubborn stains from carpets.)

Stale beer soothes tired, achy feet

After a long day on your feet, a beer soak can revive tired, achy feet. The remedy to get relief: Fill a basin with enough cold stale beer to cover your feet and soak for 10 minutes. Enzymes in the beer will soften skin and smooth calluses while the cold temperature will refresh achy feet. Bonus: The alcohol in the drink will kill any odor-causing bacteria so your feet smell fresh!

Stale beer lifts rust from hardware

While cleaning out your garage, you notice you have some old hardware stored away that has rusty spots. Don’t toss them out just yet! “You can use stale beer to remove rust from screws and bolts,” says Alessandro Gazzo of Emily’s Maids in North Dallas. “Just soak them for 24 hours and the rust will be gone! Of course, rinse with plenty of water and dry with a microfiber cloth afterward.” The brew’s carbonic acid will dissolve the rust so the pieces look and work good as new.

It eliminates a slug problem

The plants in your garden are thriving, but you worry that the hungry slugs you’ve been spotting around the greenery will soon destroy them. To protect your crops, fill a disposable foil pie plate with stale beer and place it in your garden. Slugs and snails will be attracted to the smell of the beer so they’ll crawl in the pan but will be unable to escape.

It easily cleans bathroom fixtures

To get a chrome faucet sparkling, pour stale beer into a large plastic zip-top bag, fit it around the fixture so the faucet is submerged in the brew and use a rubber band to secure. Let sit overnight, then wipe down with a damp cloth. Acids in the beer will dissolve the grime — without leaving spots.

It uncovers glowing skin for pennies

No need to splurge on pricey beauty masks to give your skin a healthy glow. Instead, try this: Mix 1/2 cup of stale beer, 2 tsp. of lime juice and 1 egg white and apply to your face. Leave in place for 10 minutes before rinsing. The hops, B vitamins, and yeast in the beer will dissolve dead skin cells, the citric acid in the lime will exfoliate and the egg white will hydrate.

It cooks up tender meat

“My favorite use of stale beer is in braising meats,” shares former restaurant owner Brian Nagele, CEO of Restaurant Clicks, a restaurant marketing website. “Spices, sugar, beer and a bit of water make a flavorful braising liquid that will infuse the meat with moisture and flavor. Plus, cooking methods that take a long time will cook off any residual alcohol, which can still be present in stale beer.” You can also marinate meat for a few hours before cooking. The brew’s acids will break down tough muscle fibers, ensuring a tender entrée. 

It attracts butterflies to your yard

Nothing brightens a day quite like the sight of beautiful butterflies. To welcome them into your yard, mix a small amount of stale beer with some mashed, overripe banana and spread on a rock or tree stump near your garden. The insects will be attracted to the scent of the beer and will be fluttering about your yard in no time to enjoy the delicious taste of both the fruit and beer you have offered.

It adds shine to furniture

You want to spiff up your coffee table before guests arrive but you’re all out of furniture polish. The fast save: Soak a soft cloth in stale beer and use it to wipe the table, then buff with a clean, dry cloth. The drink’s foam loosens dust, the color from the malt brings out wood’s hue and the alcohol adds a like-new sheen.

It polishes gold jewelry

No need to buy pricey jewelry cleaner when your favorite gold bracelet or earrings start looking dull. Instead, try this: Pour a splash of pale, stale beer into a shallow bowl and add the jewelry. The beer will break down jewelry-dulling oils and dirt, while it’s carbonation will lift grime. Then after soaking for 10 minutes and buffing with a clean cloth, your jewelry will be sparkling again.

It deodorizes a skunk-sprayed pup

Yikes! During his nightly potty break, your dog accidentally crossed paths with a skunk. The fix to get rid of the stink: Rub a can or two worth of stale beer into his coat, then rinse with water and bathe him with doggie shampoo to remove any beer scent. Beer’s yeast cultures penetrate the skunk spray’s water-resistant oils so that the carbonic acid in the drink can dissolve them. Buster will smell fresh again in no time.

It gets stainless steel clean

Even with regular cleaning, it seems like you can never your stainless steel appliances in the kitchen free of caked-on grime. What can help: Stale beer! “Because of its acidity, it works well to remove dirt from stainless steel appliances as well as counters, tiles, and other surfaces,” says CJ Lloyd, the owner of Utah’s Best Home Pros. “Simply use the stale beer to moisten a cloth or sponge, gently scrape the stain and then rinse with water.”

It helps you fall asleep in a blink

For the past few days, you’ve been having trouble drifting off to sleep. What can help: Toss your pillowcases in the washing machine, add 3 to 5 Tbs. of stale beer to the cycle and wash as usual. Hops in beer have natural sedative properties so the light aroma of the drink on the fabric can help lull you to sleep. (For more powerful results, use India pale ale, which contains more hops.) 

It makes copper pots look new

You love using your copper cookware set, but lately some of the pots are starting to show signs of tarnish. The fix: Dip a clean cloth in a light-colored, stale beer and use it to polish the spots. Finish by rinsing and buffing dry. The acidic beer will break up the dark copper oxide that causes tarnishing.

It greens up your lawn

Lately you’ve noticed some brown spots creeping up in your yard. The surprising fertilizer you have on hand? Stale beer! The brew is packed with lawn-fortifying nutrients. Just pour 1 can of stale dark beer, 1⁄2 cup of dish soap, 1 cup of cola (non-diet), 1⁄2 cup of dark molasses and 1⁄2 cup of mouthwash into a lawn sprayer, attach to your hose and spray on your lawn, advises Erik Olsen of “This delivers good bacteria that green up your grass.”

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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