Hydrogen peroxide is available at nearly all drug stores, pharmacies and big box stores. Held in opaque bottles, it has made its way into almost every medicine cabinet and first aid kit. But it’s more than just a solution for cleaning wounds. It’s also versatile and fairly safe to use.
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound with molecules that contain two hydrogen atoms bonded with two oxygen atoms. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes compounds that are common in organic life, which disinfects surfaces. It dissolves proteins by breaking apart and releasing water and oxygen free radicals. When the water and oxygen are released, it creates a fizzy foam.
The clear liquid comes in various potencies, depending on what you intended to use it for. Three percent solutions are most commonly used as a household cleaner, but there are also six to 10 percent solutions for hair bleaching, 35 percent solutions for food-grade cleaning and 90 percent solutions for industrial use.
Besides being antifungal and antibacterial, hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic and does not irritate lungs. Plus, it is multipurpose, so you can get a lot out of a single bottle.
Keep in mind, though: hydrogen peroxide loses its effectiveness when exposed to air or sunlight. Unlike many homemade cleaners can be made in advance, hydrogen peroxide solutions generally cannot be made before using them.
Also, do not mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together. Combining the two will form peracetic acid, which could irritate your skin, eyes and respiratory system. In serious cases, peracetic acid can even cause permanent lung damage.
Here is what you should know about cleaning with hydrogen peroxide, and the ways that you can do so.
Cleaning with hydrogen peroxide in the kitchen
Spray hydrogen peroxide directly into your dishwasher, let it sit for a few minutes and wipe it out to disinfect this kitchen appliance. You can create a sweet-scented dishwasher cleaning “bomb” with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and an essential oil. Mix the materials into a chalky paste and use an ice cream scoop to form round balls. Let them dry overnight. Then, place a bomb on the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Mix white vinegar and liquid dish-washing detergent in a glass or ceramic bowl and place it in the top rack. Run through a hot cycle for a sparkling, fresh dishwasher.
You can also use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect your refrigerator. After a scrubbing for food scraps and residue, spray the inside or your refrigerator with hydrogen peroxide to kill any lingering bacteria. Let it sit for several minutes and then wipe down with a wet cloth.
If your favorite pan or baking sheet is afflicted with baked-on grease, rub with a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Let it sit for a while, then use a scrubby sponge and warm water to lift the stains right off.
Cutting boards and sponges are some of the dirtiest items in your kitchen. You can repurpose old cutting boards and sponges, but until then, make sure they are as sanitary as possible by cleaning them will hydrogen peroxide. Add hydrogen peroxide to an opaque spray bottle (remember, exposure to light will nix its effectiveness) and spray on cutting surfaces. Let bubble for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse clean with water. Soak sponges for ten minutes in a half-and-half mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish. Rinse the sponge thoroughly afterward.