Dennis Hetzel-Did You Know? Vodka.

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By Dennis Hetzel

Vodka, a colorless liquor made from cereal grains such as rye or wheat or occasionally from potatoes. It normally contains 40% alcohol and is frequently drunk “neat” without ice or a mix. When mixed, common drinks include the vodka martini, screwdriver, and bloody-mary.

Vodka has a long history of use as medicine, having been sold in olden days by druggists to cure everything from infertility to colic and the plague. While some of those historic promoters were half-cocked, it’s true that vodka has a wide range of potential uses beyond serving as a relaxer and social lubricant. So, what’s vodka good for? Thus, the inspiration for this column. I recently read about several alternative uses for vodka. Here are a few of them. So if your wife finds your hidden bottle, you could tell her the vodka’s really for cleaning windows.

If she didn’t believe the window cleaning story, you may need to buy flowers from Tagaytay’s Flower Market to restore domestic harmony. Add a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar to the water in the flower vase. It will help keep the flowers fresh longer. It works best if you freshen the ingredients daily.

Got a toothache? You should see a dentist. But sometimes you can’t get an appointment right away or the professionals tell you it will heal without treatment. In that case, try swishing a shot of vodka over the affected area. It will help disinfect and should numb some of the pain. Just beware that your significant other may accuse you of smelling like a saloon.

You can keep your clothes smelling fresh with vodka — really! Simply spritz your duds then dry in a well-ventilated area. Vodka kills odor-causing bacteria and doesn’t leave a scent when dry. (Experts recommend doing a spot-test first to be sure colors don’t fade.)

Use vodka at your next BBQ to kill pesky insects. Pour a little in a spray bottle and squirt it on pesky little buggers. Or, spray on yourself as a repellent.

Vodka can actually make you prettier. How? Just add a jigger (1½ ounces) to a 12-ounce bottle of shampoo. Thanks to its low pH, vodka makes both shampoo and conditioner better. It will also help de-frizz hair and fight oily build-up.

Deodorize your feet. Soak those smelly puppies in a natural deodorizer for an extra deep clean. You can even spray diluted vodka directly into shoes for an easy, natural refresher.

Looking for something to kill weeds? Mix vodka with water and a few drops of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle. Spritz directly onto your target. Presto, a weed-free garden. And, maybe you can take a nip or two directly from the bottle while you’re concealed behind a big bush.

Peeling off a price tag often leaves unwanted residue behind. Scrub the gunk with some vodka, then rinse for a smooth surface.

Need to clean metal or ceramic sink and light fixtures? Use a cloth soaked in vodka for extra sparkle.

If your jewels are looking dingy, try soaking them in vodka for five minutes, and then rinsing them with water. It’s safe for diamonds and most other hard gemstones but maybe not for pearls or opals.

Stop mildew and mold from growing on your bathroom tiles with a spritz of vodka. Let it soak for 15 minutes, then scrub with an old brush and rinse.

If you visit North America, remember: Leaves three, leave it be. Poison ivy and poison oak are limited to North America but if you happen to get this itchy rash and need a quick fix, pour vodka directly onto the affected skin. The alcohol will rinse away the chemical (urushiol oil) that causes the itch.

So, when at the market and your wife questions you about a bottle of vodka in the shopping cart, tell her it’s for treating jellyfish stings.

PS: I understand that vodka’s sanitizing capability comes from its 40% alcohol content. You could probably substitute medicinal rubbing alcohol for the vodka and save a bunch of money. But be careful. Rubbing alcohol is much stronger, usually between 70% and 95%. So, you may want to water it down a little before using it to clean around the house.

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