Hydrogen Peroxide. You probably have the distinctive brown bottle in your bathroom cabinet right now. You’ve long known the hydrogen peroxide can be a great antiseptic to clean out wounds if you get a cut or scrape. But did you know that this medicine cabinet staple has many other great ways you can use peroxide throughout your home?
The hydrogen peroxide you are used to seeing is actually a water-based suspension of pure hydrogen peroxide. Diluting it in a slightly acidic base in a dark container helps keep the mixture from breaking down and losing its efficacy.
Here are some ways to use hydrogen peroxide that might surprise you.
At less than $2 a bottle in most places, hydrogen peroxide is an affordable way to amp up your cleaning while avoiding the chemicals and toxins you find in so many other cleaning products.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hydrogen peroxide can kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and mold spores. It is considered safe to use almost anywhere in the house including:
- Brightening grout: Apply peroxide to your grout, let it sit for a while, and rinse it off to make your grout whiter again
- Cleaning your appliances: Spray or wipe hydrogen peroxide onto the interior surfaces of your dishwasher, microwave, or refrigerator. Pay special attention to gaskets and rubber pieces that may hold onto bacteria or mildew. No need to rinse, it will harmlessly wash away with your next cycle.
- Clean sinks, tubs, and countertops: Spray the surface and wipe down with a sponge.
- Clean your garbage cans: Spray and wipe
- Deodorize your cat’s litter box: Empty and rinse the litter box, then wipe it down with hydrogen peroxide and let it dry to help reduce urine odors that may stick to the surface.
- Clean your toilet: Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the bowl and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes before flushing. Don’t forget to spray down the seat, handle, and under the rim too.
- Clean windows and mirrors: Make a solution of half water and half peroxide, mix in a spray bottle and use just like Windex. For best results wipe down with a newspaper, lint-free cloth, or paper towel.
- Kitchen sponges: Remove germs and odors by soaking kitchen sponges in a 50/50 peroxide and water mixture for 15-20 minutes.
- Plants: Use diluted hydrogen peroxide to gently remove dust from your house plants
- Miscellaneous items: Most non-porous items in your household can be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide, including humidifiers, lunch bags, pots and pans, kids’ toys, fish tanks, door handles, and more.
Hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic and while you don’t want to drink it or anything, it is safe to come in contact with food and food prep areas after a proper rinse. Here are some things to try:
- Disinfect cutting boards: Use peroxide to kill any lingering germs and viruses after food preparation, then clean as usual.
- Rinse produce: Mix ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide into a sink full of water, then use it to wash your produce. This will help remove dirt, pesticides, and other contaminants. Be sure to rinse thoroughly afterward.
- Sanitize utensils: If you have chopsticks or utensils that can't go in the dishwasher, soak them in diluted hydrogen peroxide before washing them by hand to get them germ-free.
Hydrogen peroxide can be a great laundry booster. Just remember to test it on an inconspicuous place first, especially if your garment is older or a special fabric. Since peroxide can be bleaching for some fabrics, use it carefully. Some ways it can help:
- Stain removal: Dab on a stain, wipe it in with your fingers or a sponge and let it sit for a while before you run it through the washer.
- Brighten the whites: Instead of bleach, add half a cup of hydrogen peroxide to your load of whites to help them look less dingy and grey.
- Remove musty odors from towels: Toss half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the washer along with detergent to remove musty mildew odors. Be sure to only include color-safe fabrics.
Hydrogen peroxide is not just for treating skin lacerations. You can also use it for a variety of personal care uses including:
- Removing ear wax: Pour a capful of peroxide into the ear canal, let it bubble for a while then turn your head and let it drain into a towel to break up and loosen ear wax.
- Sanitize toothbrushes and make-up brushes: Soak the bristles of toothbrushes or make-up brushes in hydrogen peroxide to clean and sanitize them, then let them air dry.
- Whiten teeth: Rinse your mouth with hydrogen peroxide, swish it around your teeth and spit out, or simply pour a bit of hydrogen peroxide over the toothpaste when you brush to help remove dinginess and stains from your teeth.
- Heal swollen gums or infections: If your gums are getting swollen or puffy, due to a minor inflammation, hydrogen peroxide may help. Rinse the area off with hydrogen peroxide or swish it around in the area where it hurts for at least 30 seconds. In some cases, the hydrogen peroxide can nip the inflammation in the bud. Be sure to spit it out when you’re done.
- Canker sores: Use hydrogen peroxide on the area to reduce inflammation and speed healing.
- Highlight your hair: You can use hydrogen peroxide to do an at-home highlighting session. Be sure to cover your clothes. Protect your skin at the hairline by adding a thin film of petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Test a few strands of hair first. Mix a 50/50 concentration of hydrogen peroxide and water and either brush or spray it where you want to lighten. Let it sit for about 20-30 minutes before rinsing it out. If you want to lighten it more, repeat.
- Detox bath: Add half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to a warm bath and soak in it to help detox your body.
- Zap a zit: Pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide onto a wet cotton ball (or make a 50/50 mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide) and gently dab your acne spots. Be sure to test for skin irritation first.
Hydrogen peroxide is a safe, non-toxic tool to help with various gardening options including:
- Sprouting seeds: Soak seeds in hydrogen peroxide for twenty minutes before planting to help soften them up and encourage them to grow.
- Killing plant fungus: Spray hydrogen peroxide diluted with water on leaves and stems where the fungus is growing and leave in place. Full strength peroxide may be too strong for some plants so be sure to include the water.
- Killing algae in ponds and birdbaths: Mix half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the water to help battle algae and film.
What are your favorite hydrogen peroxide tips?
(The above information is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.)