As we mentioned a little while ago, we got to meet up with Almost-Doctor Dan on our recent whirlwind trip to New York and were once again able to pick his giant brain.
We asked him if he had any more home-related tips that might be of use to our readers and he thought for about a nano-second before spitting out this brilliant solution: cleaning old rusty tools with a common household item. That item, you ask? Well, it’s none other than some good ‘ol thirst-quenching Coca-Cola. Here’s what Almost Doctor Dan has to say on the subject:
To clean old rusty tools with Coke, submerge the tools in a tub or bowl of Coca-Cola overnight (not sure if Diet Coke or Pepsi will work – best to stick with original Coke). If you can still see rust, leave them for a few more days. Rinse them thoroughly, let them dry, and oil them if necessary to prevent future rusting. This works because Coca-Cola is loaded with phosphoric acid, which dissolves both iron and iron oxide (rust), but dissolves the iron oxide much more quickly. If you left the tools in there for months and months you would probably see significant dissolution (corrosion) of the steel, but for just a few days this isn’t a problem. For those who may be scared to drink Coca-Cola after learning this, just know that the contents of a healthy stomach are about 100 times more acidic than Coca-Cola. You aren’t harming your digestive system by ingesting Coke or any other dilute acid (i.e. vinegar, citrus juice), although they can be harmful to your teeth and esophagus. Of course Coke isn’t the healthiest beverage for those watching their waistline, so submerging your tools in it might just be the best way to use it.
So there you have it, a simple way to get rid of pesky rust and keep your tools in tip top shape. We know we’ll be breaking out some Coke whenever ours are looking a bit worse for wear, and you can’t beat the fifty-cents-a-can cost! And heck, it could also work for rusty metal candlesticks, vases and other decorative objects. Good to know. But what about you guys? Any other household items that you use to keep things clean or otherwise functional in your home sweet home? Do tell.
What makes Almost-Doctor Dan the smartest guy we know? Learn more about our resident braniac (and my little brother) right here.
I know this is going to sound insane but if you have old wooden furniture with waterspots grab a jar of mayo. Smear mayo across the furniture completely coated it and then place papertowels on top and pat them down. Leave it alone for 30 minutes and then come and wipe away the mayo. The paper towels will look orange. Clean it off and use a damp cloth to remove all mayo residue (it does have egg in it after all) You will be shocked with how beautiful your wood items look!
Jenni, there used to be a radio show celebrity here that had a late night show and he was telling us that he had a party one evening and somebody evidently sat a cold drink on his Baby Grand piano and he didn’t notice it till the party was over and it was too late then,as the ring was really noticeable..He talked about it the next evening on the air and some listener called in about the mayonaise solution that you gave and he tried it the next day and mentioned it on the air how it had worked..Even mentioned the lady’s name to Thank Her..
Valerie (Kyriosity) says
I need to remove and prevent further rust on an old metal advertising sign. After I Coke it, what kind of oil should I use to protect it?
I think you should just be good rinsing the Coke off afterwards and drying the sign thoroughly. No oil is needed since the sign doesn’t have moving parts that need to stay lubricated like some tools do. Hope it helps!
Jenny @ Words On Wendhurst says
Years ago my mom tried to prove to us how terrible Coke was for you, by placing some screws into a two liter. The screws were supposed to be eaten away by the acid in the Coke. All that happened was that the screws came out ridiculously shiny! We would joke after that about our stomachs needing a good cleaning, so they would be all sparkly. Bring on the Coke!
Erica R. says
You can use a lemon to clean plastic cutting boards. Slice a lemon in half, squeeze onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing. I like to clean my cutting boards after making lemon chicken, fish, or any other food item that doesn’t require the use of an entire lemon. It really gets all the stains off your cutting board and leaves them sparkly clean!
Another good tip I learned it to use cooking oil to remove Removing adhesive from glasses. I hate when I buy new houseware items and I have to struggle to get the price tags off. Just apply cooking oil to the sticker using a paper towel or a soft cloth, rub firmly, then rinse with warm, soapy water. I love that its one less product to buy and I no longer have to keep my house stocked with Goo Gone.
Great post. Have definitely done the whole clean-a-penny-in-a-glass-of-coke thing before. Another good household item tip is to clean jewelry with toothpaste. I have a jewelry cleaner, but honestly, sometimes toothpaste works better! Just dabbing a little toothpaste on a toothbrush (I keep a separate toothbrush set aside just for this purpose) an little scrubadubdub – and my wedding rings or various earrings, etc. are all sparkly and good as new!
I used Coke to clean my rusty bicycle growing up :)
Jenny @ DIY Newlyweds says
These are great tips! I’ve also heard that coke can be used to clean toilets. My mom also adds a little coke and drop of bleach into the water of cut flowers which keeps them lasting much longer.
Hi again Sherry,
When I saw the picture in your post it reminded me of a silly cleaning-related question that I have for you about the rug in your kitchen.
I’d like to put a rug in our kitchen but I’m wondering whether or not it might hinder my kitchen cleaning. Do you vacuum your rug and just swiffer around where the hardwood is? Also, do you have a rug mat or something underneath to keep it from sliding out from underneath you? (I can just picture myself taking something out of the oven and tripping over the carpet, eek!)
We do have one of those rug pads under our little jute rug in the kitchen. Definitely helps! As for cleaning, I usually use my beloved Kurv to get under the cabinets and around the wood part of the floor and either vacuum or shake the rug outside to de-crumb it, depending on my mood. Gotta love easy everything-bounces-right-out jute rugs!
My dad uses Coke for its cleaning power, and as a result we have cans that are way out of date – they still work for cleaning. We don’t tend to drink it, but we always have to make sure that guests know it’s there as a tool rather than a beverage! A friend who worked in a restaurant where they had fresh flowers learned to put sparkling water in with regular water (they said the bubbles helped the stems stay firm), so based on what Jenny is saying above it sounds like any carbonated beverage would do.
THANKS!!! I can’t wait to tell my hubby *who has MANY greasy, rusty tools LOL*.
1. Use straight ammonia on greasy *motor oil greasy* work clothes, then add a cup of ammonia to your load of work clothes, let set for an hour or so……wash. It works amazingly. My husband is a millwright, comes home like a grease monkey every night. The ammonia also cleans your washer at the same time, while washing those grimey clothes. ;-)
2. We use liquid Lysol to clean jewelry with, it makes it shine shine shine. We have also used toothpaste in the past, but have found Lysol *a jeweler told my daughter the trick* to make them shine even more.
3. Use staight lemon juice *real lemon in a bottle works* and a little sugar to get pitch, grease, off hands. We put the sugar and lemon juice on dry hands, rub around, then wash off. This will also remove stains on counters etc.
4. To get the onion garlic smell off your hands, just rub them on your kitchen faucet *I use the water spout itself*, this will take away all the odors. You can buy an egg shaped metal ball for removing odors, but WHY waste the money. :-D
5. To get chewing gum off clothes, furniture, carseats, put an ice cube on it, wait for it to get hard, then gently scrape off with a knife.
6. You can remove MOST ink stains by spraying *aerosol can only* hairspray on them……..they will come right out…..you can see MOST of the ink stains fade right before your eyes. ;-)
I COULD GO ON AND ON……….LOL
piper jacquelyn says
Oddly enough, the other day while eating dinner, my boyfriend dropped A-1 on our copper coffee table. When he wiped it away, it looked a new, shiny copper penny! I have no idea what’s in A-1, but I was thrilled. Though I’ve yet to pour an entire bottle of steak sauce on it….
Julie K says
I think my favorite thing about this post is that you REALLY do illustrate the fact that you two are serious DIY-ers. I don’t think I could give up precious drawer space in my kitchen, especially right next to the stove for tool storage!
ONE MORE: MY FAVORITE THING…..washable, reusable swiffer duster pads. I bought microfiber dishtowels from Grocery Outlet stores, or Dollar Tree *dollar store*, folded them, cut them to the size of the original swiffer duster pads……sewed them up on my machine. THEY WORK GREAT!!!! SO EASY to make and they pick up the dust so well. ENJOY!!! I am making them for Christmas gifts, out of bright coral, bright yellow, bright turquoise, bright lime green microfiber towels. LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM!!!!
P.S. Have to give my friend kudo’s for this one, she showed me the one her grandma made for her. ;-)
[email protected] says
This sounds like a great idea, but if you have a little ant problem like I do, I suggest leaving it to soak outside or in the garage. Ants would love the sugar in Coke!
Jill Stigs says
Great post……….I seem to remember an email I received with a bunch of uses for Coke and Bounce dryer sheets. I do use the dryer sheet to clean out the lint trap.
BTW– tell the truth, did you straighten out your tool drawer to take the pic or does it always look like that? My “junk” drawer in my kitchen which has a bunch of stuff, not just tools, always looks terrible (and I have some drawer organizers too). UGH.
Also…….where do you keep your vacuum and ironing board? Just curious.
Tool drawer always looks like that. Honest. I’m kind of weird like that so I like everything in its place. As for the vacuum, that’s in the third bedroom closet and the ironing board slips into the two inch gap between the wall and John’s Ikea wardrobe (which is hidden by a curtain that hangs in front of it). Hope it helps!
I just thought of another handy tip, though it’s not about cleaning. If you have cut tulips in a glass – put a penny at the bottom of the vase and it helps them stand up straight longer! Tulips are prone to droop fast. So are gerber daisies, though I’ve never tried the penny trick with any other flowers. :)
Jill Stigs says
Thanks for the answers………..you guys are just too clever!
I just soaked my very gross and increasingly sticky scissors in a cup of Coke for 30 minutes after seeing your post and they’re like new! Thanks for the tip :)
[email protected] says
I’ve also seen Coke used on rusty car batteries to re-establish a connection. Probably not the best solution, but it works in a pinch.
My mom showed me the probably easiest way ever to clean things made of silver that have become dark and dull, like cutlery or jewelry. Line your kitchen sink (bottom and sides) or a bowl with aluminum foil, pour salt in it (not too little) and fill the whole thing with boiling water. Then place your jewelry or whatever silver item you want to clean in it and you can watch it getting all clean and pretty again. It amazes me every time how quick and easy this works!
The best way to clean chrome is to use a balled up, slightly damp piece of aluminum foil. When I owned a vintage European car with chrome bumpers, I used this trick on the chrome bumpers and they gleamed like new. It also got rid of little patches of rust!
Valerie (Kyriosity) says
Hmmm…if the sign rusted once, it’ll rust again if I don’t put something on it, won’t it?
Things usually rust because they’re consistently exposed to water/rain or kept in a moist environment (like a wet basement) for some time, so assuming you keep the sign in a nice dry room that gets decent ventilation after ridding it of rust with a little Coke bath, it should stay pretty clean and new looking. Hope it helps!
Here’s my favorite fix-it trick. If you’re having trouble starting the car and think it may be the battery, open up the hood and check it out yourself. If the battery has rust or greenish build up around it, pour a bottle of sprite or seven up onto the battery. Let the pop fizz and work it’s magic, then wipe away with paper towels. I have surprised friends on multiple occasions with this trick (most think I’m crazy when I pull it out of my bag of tricks) but it really does work!!!!
The pop will keep your car running long enough to take it to a mechanic, rather than having to spend a couple hundred on a tow truck! In fact, your car will keep running even longer (the first time I tried this trick I went months before bringing my car in for a new battery….which it desperately needed!!!)
Rachael Sudlow says
Yup, I always heard that cops carry a 2 liter of coke in their trunk to put on bloodstains on the highway. EW.
I’ll be dunking my pruning shears in some coke now!
Richard, let me know if it cleans up your pruning shears because I am horrible taking care of mine and I went out and bought a new pair because I didn’t know how to clean the old ones up.
Amy @ Renovation Innovation says
The best (cheapest and most eco-friendly) way to clean your microwave is to use water! Simply put a small bowl of water with a dash of lemon juice in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. The steam dislodges any stuck-on foods – all you have to do is wipe a cloth over the surfaces and the microwave is clean! Saves endless time scrubbing those hard-to-remove spills with cleaners – I always hated the idea of using chemicals in the place where food is cooked.
The drivers of Coke trucks (used for delivery) clean out their engines with coke. I simply can’t image anyone wanting to ingest the stuff. (High fructose corn syrup, no thanks!) But for anything old & rusty, yes please!
Valerie (Kyriosity) says
Thanks, Sherry. It’ll be hung in the kitchen, so I guess that’ll be dry enough.
very cool. thanks! good to know. do you think it will work with rust that has been stained on glass? i guess theres one way to find out…………………
Baking soda + white vinegar (yes, the same stuff you used to make a volcano in elementary school, minus the red food coloring) is a great all-purpose scrubber, but mainly we use it to refresh our stainless steel chef’s pan. We like to deglaze our pans whenever we cook anything, so we typically prefer cast iron and stainless steel and rarely use non-stick. Well the stainless steel is, in our opinion, just as easy to clean, but it does gradually get dingy-looking with brownish stains that just don’t come out with dish soap. But pour in some baking soda & vinegar and BOOM, they look like the day we bought them! Best part is, I can stir or flip with metal utensils and don’t have to worry about scratching my non-stick, plus I can pop the whole thing in the oven, or heat the pan when it’s dry, or whatever. I think non-stick is only useful for grilled cheese sandwiches and sunny-side-up eggs, otherwise it’s too much hassle to care for!
Baking soda + vinegar is also a good drain cleaner, and it leaves the metal drain in the bottom of your sink looking sparkly clean and new as well.
If you know it is going to rain and you are going to be driving then pour a can of coke on your car windshield and it works better then any RAIN-X would!! The rain water will just bead and run right off!!
I also can’t believe how organized your tool drawer is!! If you haven’t done a post like this before, I’d love to hear all about your organizational processes. Like what do you do with stuff left over after projects? Do you believe in the rule if you haven’t used it in 6 months throw it out? My husband keeps every single scrap of anything left over after home improvement projects.
Also, if you had a Wii (which you may), how would you store a game like rock band? or would you leave it out in case the urge to play strikes:) or even home exercise equipment. Our household is drowning in too much stuff!
If you check out the “Organization Ideas” section on our How-To page you should find tons of ideas. Here’s a post about a million ways we store things around the house to maintain some semblance of order: https://www.younghouselove.com/2009/04/how-ya-bin/
We also are big believers in paring down and only storing things that make sense to keep around for the long haul (otherwise it’s off to Goodwill or a friend or family member). How much money would we really be saving if we had a closet full of things that feel messy and jumbled? They would probably just sit there unused due to the avoid-the-messy-closet mentality, you know? Of course we keep a pile of scrap wood and stuff in the garage, but we do try to be organized about it so we’re more likely to actually use things in the pile (if it looked like a pile of garbage we would probably just go to Home Depot instead, which sort of defeats the purpose, right?). And as for Wii accessory storage, we don’t have one but we have always liked the idea of a long semi-shallow basket that can be slipped under the legs of a TV stand like ours for seamless storage and within-reach gaming stuff. If you don’t have a leggy media center maybe a basket next to the sofa (higher and less shallow) will do. Ikea sells a ton of larger baskets so that’s a good place to start. Hope it helps!
sparkling water is a GREAT! carpet cleaner!
I’ve been told that ketchup works wonders for rusty ice skates! I don’t skate much myself so I’ve never got the chance to try it, but I guess it’s the acids in the ketchup that does the trick!
Accidental Parisian says
In a pinch, you can also pour Coke down a blocked sink. Apparently it will eat away at the blockage…
Juliette R. says
Try putting a kid’s lost tooth in a glass of Coke for a week and watch it dissolve. My dad and his siblings used to do that. Should convince any kid that it’s not worth drinking.
Clean your drains with Coke. Another tip from dad for my first apt woes. First toss a pot of boiling water down, then a ton of Coke. Let it sit. 15 minutes later throw another pot of boiling water down there. Should work. If they’re extra stuck, put a bunch of baking soda down the drain before doing a Coke chaser, then the boiling water 15 min later. It’s awesome.
Jessica B. says
I would love to see Almost-Doctor-Dan as a regular contributor to your blog – what a great resource! I have a question for him that I’ve been wondering about for quite awhile. I try to purchase organic fruits, vegetables, milk, cereals, etc. whenever possible, but often wonder what exactly I’m keeping out of my system by doing so. (I mean, if we just paid attention to the word “organic”, then we would be buying VOC-loaded paint on purpose! :) Does he know what specific kinds of pesticide residue are left on produce sprayed with pesticides, what the harmful effects are likely to be if routinely eaten, and what kinds of produce aren’t worth the trouble and expense of buying organic? For example, I’ve heard fruits like pineapple aren’t any better organic because the residue is cut off with the outside rind that no one eats. Conversely, I know that some fruits and veggies have systemic pesticides permeating the inside that cannot be washed off. Also, I’ve heard that fruits and veggies from countries such as Mexico and Chile are loaded with extra pesticides that aren’t allowed to be utilized in the US. It’s enough to confuse anybody, but I figure if anyone can sort it out, it’s an almost Doctor.
Love, love your blog.
Hey Jessica B.,
We ran your question by Almost-Doctor Dan but when it comes to pesticides on fruits and veggies it’s really not his area of expertise. Of course he’s apologetic because geniuses like him like to know everything about everything, but for what it’s worth, ewg.org puts out a great list of fruits and veggies that are found to be the most polluted (which you can dodge by eating these organically) and list others that aren’t as polluted (so you can enjoy them without worrying as much about purity). Hope it helps!
This may already be mentioned, but everyone please keep in mind that what Coke did for those tools, it also does for the enamel on our teeth. That’s the real danger of soda, diet or regular. While our stomachs can do battle with the acid, our teeth have nowhere to hide as the soda bathes each tooth with every swig we take.
This is why we have populations of little children with terrible teeth at very young ages. Maybe we should just consider Coke a cleaning product?
I read somewhere that coke could clean your toilet. When we moved into our new house, the downstairs bathroom toilet was gross and stained, so I tried it. I poured 2 cans of coke in it and let it sit for 2 days, then flushed. NOTHING HAPPENED. That myth is BUSTED! Then I cleaned the toilet for real. hehe
Sherry, thank you for the links! I don’t think I saw the how-ya-bin post before. I will use that for inspiration and thinking about more clever storage for around the house. To think outside the box! (but put everything else in them) Thanks!
Yet more proof I shouldn’t drink Coke. It’s just SO good!
Love these tips. Here are a few more:
A cup of vinegar in the washing machine with new clothes that are likely to bleed (new denim, red t’s) helps to set the color.
Run your dishwasher with lemon juice to remove buildup and help with odors.
If you get candle wax on carpet or upholstery, let it dry and then scrape off what you can. Then, layer paper towels over the dried way and run a hot iron over it. You’ll need to keep replacing the paper towels until no more wax appears on them. A little time consuming but really works.
For pet stains and other bio stains on carpet or some upholstery, mix vinegar, baking soda and a little dish detergent (be ready for the bubbles)and clean. I’ve gotten out the darndest stains with this and it also deodorizes.
A great way to remove rust from things is to ball up aluminum foil, dip it in water or vinegar, and scrub away. It’s amazing!
Kevin M says
Aluminium foil and vegetable oil (any oil really) is good for rust too. Put some oil on the rust, ball up the aluminium foil and scrub the rust off. Save the Coke for a refreshing drink after you’re done!
Joy George says
The scary part about this is…we also drink the stuff! So if it’s cleaning RUST off of tools due to the acidity, think what it’s doing to our insides!? Yikes.
Check out what Almost-Doctor Dan says about that in the end of his quote in the post (interesting about our stomach acid, huh?)- although he does mention that it can be bad for people’s teeth and esophagus. He’s such a know-it-all! Hehe.
I just had to use the Coke to clean corrosion off of car battery terminals last month. They were so bad, I couldn’t jump the car to go get the battery replaced. A quick pour of Coke over the terminals, and and it was good to go.
I’m not sure where to post this qu… This seems like as good a place as any. Any tips or tricks on how to remove those annoying sticky Home Depot bar code price tag thingys from wood bannister spindles?
I just use my nails and it takes forever. Sometimes some soapy water. You don’t want to get the wood too moist or let it absorb too much of something like Goo Gone because it can hurt the stain absorption in that area. Hope it helps!
good tip. I’ll have to give that a whirl next weekend :)