Alka-Seltzer can feel like a lifesaver when you’ve over-indulged in food or drink, but did you know they can do a lot more than deal with a hangover or upset stomach?
The simple but effective mix of ingredients in Alka-Seltzer effervescent tablets makes them useful for everything from cleaning and deodorizing to brightening your whites! Here, I’ll share a few brilliant ideas you might not have heard about before.
What is Alka-Seltzer?
If you’re not already familiar with it, Alka-Seltzer is an effervescent antacid and pain reliever.
As well as Alka-Seltzer original tablets, you can also buy Alka-Seltzer Extra Strength, which contains a larger dose of aspirin. Or, if you have cold or flu symptoms, Alka-Seltzer Plus has the same ingredients as the original effervescent tablets, but with an added antihistamine and decongestant.
While Alka-Seltzer is the brand name most people are familiar with, there are other products on the market with very similar ingredients, including Medi-Seltzer and Neutralin.
What’s in an Alka-Seltzer Tablet?
Alka-Seltzer is a brand name used to describe a combination of generic medicines. Each tablet contains:
- Aspirin (325mg)
- Anhydrous citric acid (1000mg)
- Sodium bicarbonate (1916mg)
Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It provides pain-relief by blocking the production of a substance in your body that causes swelling and inflammation.
Sodium bicarbonate neutralizes the excess acid in your stomach, helping to relieve indigestion and heartburn. Sodium bicarbonate also reacts with the anhydrous citric acid in Alka-Seltzer to dissolve the tablets and make a fizzy drink.
What is Alka-Seltzer Mainly Used For?
In the US alone, Bayer produces and sells around 2.5 billion tablets each year. Almost all of those will be taken by people hoping to ease acid indigestion or heartburn, relieve minor body aches, or treat headaches.
Alka-Seltzer is a nonprescription medication, but that doesn’t mean health professionals don’t occasionally prescribe it for certain conditions. The aspirin in an Alka-Seltzer is sometimes recommended at a low dose to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in high-risk individuals.
Of course, if you plan to use it for any medical reason, you should always check the product guidelines and follow the advice of your physician.
Surprisingly Useful Ways to Use Alka Seltzer
Now we know a little more about how it is used medically, we can move on to the less conventional uses!
Unclogging a Drain
If you’ve got a slow draining sink or basin, the sodium bicarbonate and citric acid in Alka-Seltzer can help!
The fizz that’s created when you drop two tablets into water is even more powerful when mixed with another mild acid. In fact, it’s powerful enough to breakdown the greasy build-up that’s often responsible for blocking plumbing completely.
Drop four tablets into your drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Wait for about ten minutes, then flush the pipes with a pot of boiling water. Nasty clogs will be washed away, and the reaction will help the drain smell better too!
Cleaning a Toilet
Who knew that Alka-Seltzer could help you clean if unannounced guests show up?! Drop two tablets into your toilet, then leave them to fizz and soak for around 20 minutes. When the time’s up, use your toilet brush to scrub away any grime and limescale, then flush!
Although it’s mild enough to be used as a medicine, the citric acid works wonders as a cleaner when it’s mixed with water. Your toilet will sparkle, and the citric acid will even help to deodorize too.
Are you running low on a surface cleaner? Or perhaps you just prefer to use a product without any overly harsh chemicals?
If so, Alka-Seltzer is the answer! Drop three tablets into eight ounces of warm water, then wait for the fizzing to stop. When it’s ready, dip a sponge or cloth into the solution, and use it to wipe down counters, tiles, tubs, and more.
Save any leftover solution for next time by pouring it into a spray bottle. Or if you need a bucket full to mop your floor, five tablets in ½ gallon of water will make your floors shine!
Soothe Insect Bites
When you’re bitten or stung by an insect, it causes a histamine response in your body that can lead to severe itching and discomfort.
The good news is, Alka-Seltzer can help!
Drop two tablets into warm water, then, when it stops fizzing, soak a cotton ball in the solution. Hold against the bite for 30 minutes, and you’ll get some relief from the itching. The citric acid helps to clean the wound too, so there’s less chance you’ll be left with a mark or a scar.
Removing burnt-on food
Sometimes, baked or burnt-on food just can’t be helped. The trouble is, lots of scrubbing and harsh chemicals can damage your pots and pans. So, what’s the answer?
Surprisingly, Alka-Seltzer can be a secret weapon that brings an effortless shine to your cookware.
Drop five tablets into a sink full of hot water, then let your pans and utensils soak for an hour. A lot of the burnt food will come off in the water, and the rest will come off with a little scrubbing!
Treat Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Around six million people suffer from a UTI each year. If you’ve ever had one, you’ll know just how distracting and painful they can be.
Although it’s not one of its more common uses, Alka-Seltzer can offer quick relief if you take two chewable Alka Seltzer tablets in a glass of water as soon as you notice any symptoms.
It’s important to remember that Alka-Seltzer comes with a few warnings. For example, you shouldn’t use it if you’re breastfeeding, in the final three months of pregnancy, or have high blood pressure.
Deodorizing the Fridge
The same dinnertime smells that make your mouth water can become unpleasant if they hang around longer than they’re welcome. If your fridge could use a freshen-up, Alka-Seltzer is perfect for the job!
Drop one tablet into a cup of water and leave it in your closed refrigerator for around 30 minutes. If any food smells linger, wipe down the inside with another tablet dissolved in a cup of warm water to leave everything odor-free.
Cleaning Narrow Containers
If you’ve got reusable drinks bottles or narrow vases, you’ll know just how difficult it can be to make them sparkle inside.
Instead of overnight soaking or using awkward bottle brushes, a couple of Alka-Seltzer tablets will make the job hassle-free! Drop two tablets into the container, then add hot water. Swish the solution around until the tablets are dissolved, then leave it to stand for an hour. When you rinse it out, your container will be spotless!
Restore Stained Plastic Containers
Isn’t it frustrating when tomato-based spaghetti sauces leave your plastic containers discolored?
Alka-Seltzer can save them from the trash!
Fill your container with hot water and add one or two tablets, depending on the size of the container. When the fizzing stops, let them sit for 30 minutes, and your containers will be as good as new.
Jewelry can be very tricky to clean. If you use the wrong product, you can tarnish or mark your favorite pieces, and may need a professional to put right.
Since the citric acid in Alka-Seltzer is powerful but non-abrasive, it’s perfect for cleaning your rings, earrings, and necklaces. Simply drop two tablets in a bowl of warm water, then let your jewelry soak for 20 minutes.
Keep in mind that it isn’t safe to clean pearls and opals this way, but it will make most precious metals and stones sparkle!
Cleaning Your Coffee Maker
Most coffee makers need to be descaled now and again, but many descaling tablets contain very harsh chemicals. If you’d prefer to use something that won’t irritate your skin or harm the environment, Alka-Seltzer is perfect!
Fill the water chamber of your coffee maker then drop in three tablets. Wait for the tablets to dissolve, then run a brew cycle (or descaling cycle if you have one.) The combination of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate will gently remove any scale from the internal components. Run another cycle with clean water before brewing your next pot of coffee.
Whiten and Brighten Laundry
Laundry labels can be difficult to follow. In fact, I’ve dedicated a whole post to understanding them! Unless they’re washed correctly every time, white cotton garments can quickly start to look grey, dull, or even slightly yellow, even after just a couple of washes.
If you’ve got whites that could be brighter, Alka-Seltzer can help.
Add two tablets to one gallon of warm water, then let them soak for an hour. They’ll look fresher as soon as you lift them out, but you’ll get even better results if you hang them in the sun to dry!
Unless they’re cleaned thoroughly, coolers can sometimes smell unpleasant the next time you want to use them.
Alka-Seltzer makes cleaning your cooler completely effortless. Add around one inch of water to the bottom of the cooler, then drop four tablets in. Let the solution sit for an hour, then rinse and dry. Any lingering smells with completely disappear, and your cooler will be ready for your next adventure!
Cleaning Dentures or Retainers
Denture and retainer cleansing products can be quite expensive, but you don’t want to cut corners on keeping everything clean.
Alka-Seltzer isn’t just a cost-effective way of cleaning your dentures and other prosthetic dental work, it’s also more effective!
Drop one tablet into a glass of warm water, then add your dentures or retainer. The sodium bicarbonate and citric acid will remove even tough stains as they react with each other, and you’ll be left with a sparkling smile!
How Do I Store or Throw Out Alka-Seltzer?
Whether you’re using Alka-Seltzer to tackle indigestion or clean your coffee machine, it’s important to remember that it’s a medicine that needs to be handled correctly.
Make sure you store it at room temperature and avoid any direct heat. You should also make sure all drugs are kept in a safe place, out of the reach of children and pets.
Don’t be tempted to keep drugs that you won’t use or have already expired. In some cases, medicines that are beyond their expiry date can be dangerous! Don’t assume that it’s okay to flush them down the toilet either; ask your pharmacist about the best way to dispose of old drugs.
As long as you handle and store it safely, Alka-Seltzer is a great addition to your medicine cupboard. Those tablets won’t just ease your headache; they can even remove the headache from lots of household jobs!