Historians aren't entirely certain which came first, beer or bread. Both date from roughly the same time and place, and are made through similar processes. One thing is certain, though: When you come home after a long, hard day, you're more likely to want a cold beer than a loaf of bread. Surprisingly, aside from its value as a pleasant and refreshing beverage, beer has plenty of household uses as well. The next time you find yourself with a few half-bottles left over, try some of these useful home hacks.
Green Your Lawn
Keeping a picture-perfect lawn can be surprisingly difficult at times, considering that grass naturally wants to be green. In practice, a variety of problems can cause unsightly brown patches in your lawn. Surprisingly, beer can help you turn those around. It turns out the fermentation process makes beer's nutrients highly bioavailable for plants, meaning the grass can slurp them up from your leftover suds. Just pour your leftovers wherever it looks like your grass needs a boost, and watch while the green comes flooding back.
Loosen Rusty Bolts or Screws
Rusty bolts or screws are surprisingly difficult sometimes to loosen, even with power tools or a long-handled wrench that gives you plenty of torque. If you don't have a can of spray lubricant around, reach for a beer instead and spritz the offending fastener generously. The beer's carbonation helps it foam its way into the tightly-fastened threads, and its mild acidity helps loosen and dissolve the rust. Wait a few minutes, then try again to loosen the bolt or screw. Repeat as needed, if it stubbornly holds on after your first attempt.
Decoy Unwanted Insects
A beautiful backyard or well-made patio can be great assets to your house, extending your useful living area into the great outdoors. They're great places to host a party or any other social gathering, but unfortunately your food and drink have a tendency to attract unwanted winged guests. Those can make your human guests feel distinctly uncomfortable, but you can avoid this difficulty by sacrificing a beer or two to the common good. An hour or so before guests begin to arrive, set our several small saucers or dishes of beer at a distance from your deck. Wasps and other stinging insects will be attracted there, instead of to your gathering, so you can enjoy yourself in peace.
Polish Metal Surfaces
One of the enduring reasons for gold's popularity is that it doesn't corrode or tarnish, so it just takes a quick wipe to make it shiny again. That's not the case with a lot of other beautiful metals, like copper, brass or silver. Even stainless steel can become grubby-looking over time, if it's not looked after. Beer's mild acidity makes it an excellent cleanser for many of these metals. Soak copper pans or silver and brass decorative pieces in leftover beer, then wipe them down to remove the loosened soil and tarnish. A splash of still-bubbly beer can even help foam off stuck-on food. Beer will also wash away the soapy buildup from your kitchen and bathroom faucets.
Sleep, Sweet Sleep
As any insomniac will tell you, there's nothing like a good night's sleep. If you find that sleep doesn't come easily to you, you can learn a thing or two from ancient folk wisdom. Hops have been used for centuries as a sleeping aid, usually in the form of a small bundle of the vine's buds sewn into a bag and added to a pillow. For a faster, easier use of the same principle, wash your pillowcases in hoppy, strong-scented beer. The aroma of the hops will cling gently to your pillowcase – it won't smell like a bar, honestly – and help you drift off to a refreshing slumber.
Trap Pests in the Home and Garden
You may be surprised to learn this, but humans aren't the only creatures who enjoy a cold one now and then. If your garden is beset by slugs and snails, don't deal with the sticky little invaders by drenching the whole garden with toxins. Instead, sink a few empty cans or glass jars into the garden and pour in a few inches of beer. The slugs and snails will climb over each other to get in, where they'll expire quite happily. When the trap is full, empty it and refresh the beer bait. The same basic idea works indoors with mice. You'll just need a larger jar or a pail, and a ramp to help them find their way in.
Soak Your Feet
After a hard day's work (or hiking, or sports, or child-minding) you may well look forward to rewarding yourself with a refreshing beer. While you're probably thinking about drinking it, it feels almost as good on your poor, hardworking feet. Pour out a bottle or two into a small basin, and and ease your tired "dogs" into that cool, foamy goodness. It will soothe your aches and pains, and as an added bonus, the gentle acidity of the beer makes it a mild exfoliant. When you're done, the beer can be re-purposed for garden or lawn duty.
When you spill something on yourself that's likely to stain your clothes, just about the first piece of advice you'll get is to "put some water on it." Not letting the stain dry and set is a really good idea, but water isn't always the best liquid to moisten it with. If you have a beer open, use that instead. Its effervescence will help get the offending material out of the fabric, and its mild acidity will help prevent the stain from setting. Blot the area dry and then re-apply the beer, as needed, until the stain disappears. Then wash the garment as soon as you can, just to be safe.
Apply It to an Injury
You've heard it from Mom, now you get to say it for yourself: "It's all fun and games, until someone gets hurt." Unfortunately, beer consumption can dramatically increase the likelihood of someone getting hurt in that backyard game of football or baseball. Applying cold to bruises, sprains and abrasions can help keep swelling down, but if you don't have a gel pack on hand a beer straight from the cooler makes a great substitute. Apply it to the affected area for a few minutes at a time, wrapping it in a thin cloth to keep it from chilling the skin too much. As the beer warms up, swap it for a colder one out of the cooler.
Clean Gold Jewelry
Giving your jewelry a regular clean is important to maintaining its beauty and shine. If you're out of the store-bought cleaner or just want to save some extra bucks, beer will get the job done. Just pour a bit of beer onto a clean towel or cloth and gently rub it onto your gold pieces to remove any gunk and restore shine.