Can Coca‑Cola be used as a household cleaner?
This rumour has taken on many forms, claiming that Coca-Cola, due to its acidic nature, can be used to clean toilets and corrosion from car batteries, loosen a rusted bolt and remove rust spots from car bumpers, remove grease from clothing, clean road haze from windshields, cook a steak, dissolve teeth and bake a moist ham.
This rumour mentions that baking a ham basted with Coca-Cola produces a delicious gravy – and that is definitely true! We are unaware of any mechanics using Coke for any purpose other than refreshment. Plain water or vinegar would be as effective and less costly. Vinegar, naturally acidic, is used as a household cleaner and also a common ingredient in marinades and salad dressings. Soaking an egg in vinegar causes the shell to soften – an expected outcome because acid breaks down protein structure. Yet vinegar is completely safe as a food ingredient and enhances the flavour of many foods.
Soaking something in a soft drink or rubbing something with a cloth soaked in a soft drink is not at all like drinking a soft drink. People don't hold soft drinks in their mouths for long periods of time, nor rub their teeth with fabric soaked in soft drinks, so it doesn't make sense to extend these possible affects to normal use of the product. Because our teeth are constantly bathed by saliva, which helps buffer the effects of acids from foods and drinks, the effect on tooth enamel is greatly reduced. In fact, the acids in most foods are neutralised to a large degree by the saliva in the mouth long before they reach your stomach.
There is a small amount of edible acid present in many foods, including fruit juices, buttermilk, and soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola. These foods are not acidic enough to harm your body tissues – in fact, your own natural stomach acid is stronger. It is possible that the edible acid in any of these products could have the effects described, even though it's still quite safe to drink these products. However, we don't make any claims relating to other uses. Instead, we recommend using products specifically designed for cleaning or rust removal.
The rumours about disappearing teeth, nails, steaks and various other objects are just that - rumours. These stories continue to spring up and get recycled because each new generation finds them hard to ignore, but they simply are not true.