21 of the Greatest Uses for Coca-Cola Besides Drinking

A glass bottle of Coca-Cola is photographed against a magenta background.
Coca-Cola can be used for more than quenching your thirst. You can use the soda as an ingredient for a cake, to clean your toilet or to repel pests, among other things. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Coca-Cola has been offering that refreshing fizz on a hot day for more than a century. You’re probably used to sipping on a Coke at dinner, ordering a Coke at the drive thru or, on nights you’re feeling adventurous, mixing it with your favorite brand of rum.

But there are a whole lot more uses for Coca-Cola than just plain drinking.

If you’ve got a 12-pack or 2-liter bottle of Coke taking up space in your fridge, think of it as more than just a drink. You can use Coke for everything from baking a cake to cleaning your toilet to repelling pests. And when a 2-liter of Coke goes for just a few bucks at the grocery store, it’s a cheaper alternative to whatever household item you’re using it in place of.

21 Ways to Use Coca-Cola Around the House

Coca-Cola, or any brand of dark carbonated soda, is good for more than quenching thirst. Cola’s carbonation and phosphoric acid combine to create a powerful household and garden workhorse. In some cases, diet versions can alter the results.

Cleaning With Coke

Both the carbonation of Coca-Cola and its phosphoric acid make it a great substitute for traditional cleaners. When scrubbing surfaces, just remember to follow up with warm water to avoid the sticky aftermath.

1. Scrubbing Pots and Pans

The phosphoric acid in a can of Coke is great at cutting through grease. If you cooked up a particularly greasy meal in a pot or pan and are having trouble completely cleaning it with traditional hot water and soap, try letting the cookware soak in some Coca-Cola. Place the pot or pan directly on a stovetop burner on low heat for half an hour while it soaks, then try cleaning it with soap and water again.

And it’s not just grease that cola is tough against. If your pan has charred or burnt food that just won’t budge, the same Coke soak will break down the food until you’re able to scrub or scrape it away.

2. Removing Grease Stains From Clothes

And it’s not just grease in the kitchen. You can use Coca-Cola to treat tough grease stains on dark laundry, including jeans, shirts and linens (because who doesn’t eat in bed from time to time?).

Just pour a little soda on a fresh stain as an alternative to a spot remover, then wash your garment as you normally would (warm water recommended).

If you stain a lighter piece of clothing or sheet, use a clear, lemon-lime soda, like Sprite, Starry or 7UP.

3. Cleaning the Toilet Bowl

It’s a chore no one wants to do — but it’s got to be done. If you’re finding that regular toilet bowl cleaner just isn’t cutting through the grime (or if you’re just plain out), pour about two cans’ worth of Coke into the toilet and let it sit for at least an hour. Then scrub the toilet bowl with a brush and watch the grime just disappear.

4. Cleaning Tile Grout

Coke can be an effective cleaning agent for the tile grout in your bathroom and kitchen. Soak discolored grout in Coca-Cola for several minutes before wiping up. Remember to follow up with warm water. If you have a large tile surface to cover, consider pouring from a 2-liter of cola into a spray bottle to make it easier to apply.

5. Wiping Windows, Mirrors and More

Cleaning your windows throughout the year gives you a nice, clear view of the outside. But if you don’t have your typical glass cleaner lying around, you can reach into the fridge for a bottle of soda. Use that same spray bottle you assembled for cleaning the grout to easily spray down your windows and wipe them clean. Follow with warm water.

The same trick works on bathroom mirrors, which can get dirty with a mix of grime and dried toothpaste. If you wear glasses and you’re out of lens cleaner, you can even use Coke to clean those in a pinch!

6. Scrubbing Out the Tub

You’ve cleaned the toilet and the bathroom mirror, but you’re not quite done yet. Coke has even more uses in the bathroom. If your porcelain tub is full of grime, mildew or even rust, Coke can help you get it looking fresh and new quite easily. While bleach is great for the mildew, it doesn’t have the same impact on rust that Coca-Cola does, whose phosphoric acid reacts with iron oxide and allows rust to dissolve.

To clean your tub with cola, apply liberally with a sponge or rag, especially on any rust spots. Let the soda sit for about an hour before taking that same sponge or rag and scrubbing with all your might. Then rinse the tub with warm water from the showerhead.

Tubs with particularly bad rust spots will need multiple treatments and will likely not go all the way back to that good-as-new look.

A can of Coke and Pepsi stand next to each other.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Working Around the House With Coke

You might have thought the chores were done, but you can use Coca-Cola for more than just cleaning. Grab a 2-liter and head to the garage — it’s time to banish garage oil stains, clean the car’s battery terminal, get rid of rust buildup on your tools and more.

7. Clearing Up Driveway or Garage Oil Stains

In the same way that Coke can cut through tough grease stains in your laundry or on your pots and pans, it can combat oil stains on your driveway pavement or the cement in your garage.

To really fight through the stain, it’s best to let it soak in a healthy puddle of Coke for a few hours, if not overnight, before you hose it down.

If you’re worried about attracting ants to your driveway, you can use Diet Coke. Because Diet Coke is artificially sweetened with aspartame, ants are not attracted to it. (Coke Zero Sugar and its artificial sucralose follow the same basic principle.)

8. Cleaning Your Car Battery Terminal

Since you’re already out in the garage, pop the hood to your car and have a look at the battery. If you notice any corrosion, Coke will do the trick.

Don’t worry: Coke’s acidity won’t react with the battery acid, so you can actually pour some soda from a 12-ounce can straight onto the battery and let it do its magic. Just remember to disconnect the cables first!

After the battery has soaked for a little bit, you can scrub the rust directly; you’ll need a little elbow grease. Then towel dry the battery and reattach the cables.

9. Removing Rust From Tools

You’ve probably heard the (untrue) rumor that if you leave a tooth in a glass of Coke overnight, it’ll dissolve. While the science doesn’t check out there, the acid in Coke can be useful for stripping rust from your tools. To restore rusty tools or hardware, let them soak in a bowl of cola for a day or two, then scrub them and give them a rinse.

10. Loosening a Rusty Bolt

If a bolt or a screw is rusted and just won’t budge but you need to remove it, just crack open a can of Coke. Dampen a cloth with the soda and rub it onto the bolt or screw. This should remove enough rust so that you can loosen it and continue on with your project.

Gardening With Coca-Cola

Soda may not grow on trees, but it can certainly be helpful in the garden. There are a few ways that you can promote healthy growth in your own backyard with nothing but a bottle of cola, including speeding up composting and repelling slugs and snails.

11. Speeding Up Composting

Have a compost pile? You can speed up the composting process by adding some Coke into the mix. Coke has sugars that attract microorganisms, which then break down the organic materials in your compost pile — and the cola’s acid helps move the process along!

12. Repelling Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails seem harmless and, if you’re not put off by the slime, maybe even kind of cute. But gardeners know that they can wreak havoc on your plants and flowers.

To keep these pests out of your garden, set out a bowl of Coke and leave it out overnight. The slugs and snails will be attracted to the soda, crawl into the bowl and drown — leaving your garden untouched.

13. Promoting Plant Growth

Nature’s weird: You can kill a mighty succulent by accidentally overwatering it, yet there are certain acid-loving plants that will thrive if you dump some Coke into their soil.

Don’t overdo it, of course, but a small amount of Coke can reduce the soil’s pH level, which can benefit plants like azaleas, bergenia, astilbes, foxgloves and gardenias.

A bottle of Coke is shown laying on it's side.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Cooking With Coca-Cola

Drinking Coca-Cola on a hot day can be refreshing, but there are other ways to consume Coke that don’t involve glugging it out of a can. Some unique ways to use cola in the kitchen include making a Coca-Cola cake, slow cooking a ham and even flavoring wings.

14. Baking a Coca-Cola Cake

Coke is sweet, cake is sweet, and they’re just one letter off from each other. They’re practically the same thing, eh?

We love this recipe for Classic Coca-Cola Cake, a chocolate cake that utilizes soda for the actual cake and the icing. In total, you’ll only need 1 ⅓ cup of Coke, so you can save the rest to wash the cake down.

Not a Coke fan? The recipe creator at Spicy Southern Kitchen says you can sub in Dr. Pepper or even root beer.

15. Cooking a Ham

Want to try something new for your next holiday dinner? Slow Cooker Coca-Cola Ham from Good Housekeeping will certainly impress your guests. The fizz of the cola helps to elicit more flavor from the meat. You’ll need an entire 2-liter of Coke to add to the slow cooker.

16. Tossing Chicken Wings in a Cola Sauce

What’s your favorite wing sauce: garlic parmesan, mango habanero or maybe just the classic Buffalo? Spice things up the next time you make wings at home with this cola sauce recipe from the recipe site Tablespoon.

If you aren’t confident about breading and frying the wings yourself, you can buy precooked frozen wings and still make the sauce.

17. Grilling Some Burgers

A Coca-Cola is the perfect complement to a burger, but did you know you can also use Coke to make your burgers? This burger recipe from Taste of Home calls for using the cola as a kind of glaze; just don’t use Diet Coke, per the instructions!

Using Coke in an Emergency

Sugary soda has been tied to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, tooth decay and more. Consuming it regularly is not healthy by any stretch of the imagination.

Oh yeah, and that old urban myth about flat Coke or a sparkling lemon-side soda curing an upset stomach? Not true. In fact, the World Health Organization advises against it.

That said, you can use it in certain health emergencies — and for some other tricky situations.

18. Stopping an Asthma Attack

If you suffer from asthma, you should always have your inhaler on you. That’s the No. 1 way to stop an asthma attack.

But if your inhaler isn’t on hand but you’ve got a couple cans of Coke nearby, they might be your best bet for counteracting the breathing issues associated with asthma.

Why? Because caffeine can open airways — and a 12-ounce can of soda has 34 milligrams of caffeine. Got a can of Mountain Dew in the fridge? Even better: Each can of Mountain Dew contains 55 milligrams of caffeine.

19. Neutralizing a Jellyfish Sting

Contrary to what you might have seen on Friends, urine can actually make a jellyfish sting worse. So if you’re stung by a jelly on beach day, what do you do? Vinegar is the top solution, but in a pinch, the acid in cola can help neutralize the sting. But you should still seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

20. Quickly Defrosting an Icy Windshield

If you’ve got to be somewhere fast — whether you’re making an emergency trip to the hospital or you’re just running late for work — but your windshield is iced over, a couple of 2-liters of Coke should do the trick. Pour the soda onto the ice, and it’ll become a brown slush that you can wipe away with your windshield wipers.

Is it sticky and kind of gross? Very much so. But does it work? You betcha.

21. Removing Gum From Your Hair

It’s not a life-threatening emergency by any stretch of the imagination, but getting gum in your hair can be a real pain. And while Michael Scott famously used peanut butter to get the gum out of his ’do, Coca-Cola is said to do the trick as well. Ideally, you’ll need to let the affected hair soak in some cola for a few minutes before you try to wipe it out.

“Is Pepsi OK?”

Before we explore all the amazing uses of Coca-Cola around the house, let’s address the elephant in the room. What about Pepsi? Or even RC Cola? Or store-brand colas?

In short: Any kind of dark carbonated cola should do the trick because you’re really just after the phosphoric acid and carbonation. In some instances, using Diet Coke or any diet soda may alter the results (especially when baking — that real sugar matters), so stick with the full-loaded stuff when possible. Likewise, use bubbly soda. Once it goes flat, it will lose some of its miracle cleaning properties.

There are also some other soda hacks — like degreasing light clothes or restoring the shine on silver jewelry — that work better with a clear soda, like Sprite or 7UP.

Timothy Moore covers bank accounts and insurance for The Penny Hoarder from his home base in Cincinnati. He has worked in editing and graphic design for a marketing agency, a global research firm and a major print publication. He covers a variety of other topics, including insurance, taxes, retirement and budgeting and has worked in the field since 2012 with publications such as The Penny Hoarder, Forbes, Sound Dollar, Insider, Chime, SoFi and WDW Magazine.