Carbonated water — a.k.a. club soda — is probably best-known as a drink mixer. It’s a staple in famous cocktails like the Tom Collins, gin rickey, or Paloma; it’s also tasty in non-alcoholic beverages like Italian soda or sparkling lemonade. But there are many surprising (and exciting!) household uses for club soda, too. Keep reading for ten of our favorite club soda uses, from cleaning stains to reviving plants.
1. Whip up extra fluffy pancakes.
Whether you’re feeding the family, serving brunch to guests, or enjoying a tasty breakfast solo, the secret to serving up the fluffiest of pancakes? Substituting the water or milk required in your favorite pancake recipe with club soda. The soda’s tiny bubbles will hold their shape in the batter to yield extra-fluffy flapjacks.
2. Unclog a stuck drain for less.
Instead of using pricey chemical solutions to remedy a slow-draining sink, combine 2 cups of club soda with 2 tablespoons of salt and pour the mix down the drain. After a minute, follow up with a kettleful of boiling water. The soda and abrasive salt help dissolve grime while the water washes it away. Note: it won’t be good for your pipes to use this method regularly. So if you have a tough or consistent blockage, call a plumber!
3. Save newspaper clippings.
A little one in your life got featured in the local paper and you want to scrapbook the clipping. The trick to preserving it: Dissolve a milk of magnesia tablet in 1 liter of club soda and refrigerate overnight. The next day, stir well, then soak the clipping in the solution for 1 hour. The ingredients will gently deactivate the paper’s acids so it doesn’t yellow later.
4. Deodorize a pet stain.
Buster had an accident on the carpet and you worry that if he catches a whiff of the spot, even after cleaning, he’ll go there again. To break the cycle without shelling out for sprays, simply saturate the area with club soda. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then blot with paper towels. Minerals in the drink deodorize the spot so Buster won’t sniff it out.
5. Get shiny gorgeous hair.
The secret to silky, healthy-looking locks? Club soda! Simply shampoo and rinse as usual, then pour a cup of the soda over your hair. Immediately follow with a cool-water rinse. Sodium bicarbonate in the drink will eliminate any built-up residue for soft, shiny hair.
6. Green up fading houseplants.
Houseplant looking less than lush? Club soda can help. Just let the water go flat first (the carbon dioxide will stunt a plant’s growth), then pour into the pot. Minerals like sodium citrate and disodium phosphate enrich the soil, encouraging healthy, green growth.
7. Get a rusty screw to turn.
You finally found time to replace the towel bar in your bathroom, but one of the screws is rusted and it won’t budge. The quick save: Pour club soda on the hardware and let it sit for 5 minutes, then twist again with the screwdriver. Carbon dioxide in the soda reacts with rust to bubble it away, so you can turn the screw with more ease.
8. Lift tea stains from mugs.
A hot cup of tea is your go-to drink on chilly days. The only problem? The tannins in the tea usually leave a noticeable brown tinge on the inside of your white mug. Rather than waste time endlessly trying to scrub it away, try this hands-off trick: Pour club soda into the mug and let it sit overnight. The acids in the soda will dissolve the stain so it can be rinsed away with water in the morning.
9. Calm an upset stomach.
That slice of pizza was pure heaven last night, but you woke up with a sour stomach as a result. Get instant relief by sipping on a little club soda. The sodium bicarbonate in the soft drink can help neutralize stomach acid while the carbonation will encourage burping to relieve pressure in the stomach. You could be feeling better in a flash.
10. Wipe away prints from stainless steel.
Your new stainless steel refrigerator looks great — if only it weren’t always covered in smudges! The low-cost way to get the appliance sparkling again: Dampen a soft, clean cloth with club soda and use it to buff the surface. Wipe dry with another clean cloth. Carbonated molecules in the soft drink will fizz away the grime without leaving behind any spots.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.