Do you ever remember scraping your knee as a kid and then either a parent or other adult figure immediately coming to the rescue with a large brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide?
While most people believe that hydrogen peroxide is only restricted to wound care, it actually serves multiple other functions that may seriously surprise you!
The most common uses of hydrogen peroxide include everything from removing stains to functioning as an effective antibacterial and antiseptic.
What is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide – also known by its chemical formula, H2O2 – is a powerful oxidizing agent composed of water and oxygen. It functions as a disinfectant, antiviral and anti-bacterial by killing pathogens through oxidation burst and oxygen production.
This substance is an inorganic peroxide that consists of two hydroxy groups bound by a covalent oxygen-oxygen single bond. It occurs naturally in the body and has been primarily detected in the blood.
At room temperature, hydrogen peroxide is a colourless liquid with a bitter taste. It is found naturally in the air at low concentrations.
Hydrogen peroxide is manufactured at low concentrations (3-9%) for household and medical applications.
High-concentration peroxide — greater than 10% — is most often used as part of complementary or alternative medicine therapies, which use non-traditional medical treatments with or instead of standard medical care.
Even higher concentrations (50-90%) are used as a bleach for textiles and paper, as a component of rocket fuel, and for making foam rubber and organic chemicals.
30 Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide for Home and Body
Hydrogen peroxide is a very effective anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-mold, and anti-mildew agent. It cleans, disinfects, and deodorizes surfaces, which makes it double as an effective cleaning agent for around the home.
Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide for the Household
Here are 15 ways to use hydrogen peroxide around the home:
1. Disinfect Cutting Boards
Wooden and plastic cutting boards can trap bacteria in the tiny cuts you leave behind from knives and other utensils. A quick spray with hydrogen peroxide will keep your boards bacteria-free.
2. Combine With Vinegar for Bleach Alternative
Keep two separate spray bottles of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in the kitchen to create a powerful bleach alternative. Mist your surface of choice with the contents of one bottle, letting it sit for 5 minutes. Wipe with a clean cloth, and then repeat with the second bottle. Do not mix the two liquids in one bottle or on the surface, as they form paracetic acid, which is unstable in this form. According to this study, the combination may work as effectively as bleach.
3. Brighten and Clean Laundry
Hydrogen peroxide can brighten your white laundry, and help remove stains. It has bleaching and deodorizing properties to keep your laundry clean and fresh. Adding one cup of hydrogen peroxide to your washing machine will help whiten your whites. You can also do spot-treatments on stubborn stains on clothes and rugs by combining one cup of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water.
4. Sanitize Your Refrigerator
Clean out your refrigerator as you normally would, and then spray down with a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide to kill any lingering bacteria. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before wiping down with plain water.
5. Clean Tile Grout
Grout is probably one of the hardest things to clean. It can get dirty, and will quickly get covered in mildew if not properly maintained. Thankfully, hydrogen peroxide can kill mold spores and whiten old, dirty grout. To whiten it, mix a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and spread it over the tiles and grout. Let sit for five minutes, and then wipe away with plain water.
6. Shine Your Mirrors
If you’re tired of streaks on your mirrors, try spraying some hydrogen peroxide on a microfibre cloth to reduce streaks and leave your mirrors looking beautiful.
7. Clean Your Dehumidifier and/or Humidifier
Dehumidifiers and humidifiers are breeding grounds for mold and bacteria due to their perfect environmental conditions – moisture and warmth. Keep these appliances clean so you can breathe easier by running a half and half solution of water and hydrogen peroxide through them every month.
8. Wash Your Fresh Produce
Remove dirt and pesticides from your fruit and vegetables by adding 1/4 cup of H2O2 to a sink of cold water, and then washing your produce in it. Once you’re done washing, make sure to rinse your produce with clean water.
9. Sanitize Your Dishes
If you want to sanitize a load of dishes to get them really clean, add two ounces of hydrogen peroxide to your dishwasher, along with your regular detergent. You can also add the same amount right into your dish soap bottle and wash your dishes by hand with the added peroxide. Just make sure to rinse after.
10. Sanitize Your Kitchen Sponges
Kitchen sponges are breeding grounds for all sorts of nasty bacteria. Combine equal parts peroxide and warm water in a shallow disk, and then soak your sponges in the mix for about 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly afterward and then let air dry.
11. Clean the Toilet Bowl
Clean and disinfect your toilet bowl by pouring 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl and letting it sit for 20 minutes. Then, scrub it clean with your toilet brush and flush.
12. Household Cleaner
One of the best uses of hydrogen peroxide that most people don’t consider is using it as a general household cleaner. It is a safe and natural disinfectant that can be used to clean up spills and dirty surfaces. Mix one cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water and add to a spray bottle to be used throughout the home.
13. Brighten Dull Floors
Hydrogen peroxide works as a great cleaner for floors of all types. Add 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide to one gallon of hot water, and use this solution to mop your floors. They’ll look bright and spankin’ new in no time. This solution is mild enough that you don’t have to go over your floors with plain water – it works just as is!
14. Keep Houseplants Healthy
Hydrogen peroxide on your plants?! Yup, you read that right. Hydrogen peroxide helps encourage healthy root growth because of the extra oxygen molecules. Oxygen helps the roots of your plants absorb nutrients from the soil, resulting in healthier, more luscious plants. It also helps control unwanted pests. Simply add one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per cup of water to a spray bottle and mist the plant.
15. Clean Shower Curtain Liners
Shower curtain liners often go scummy – and quick, too. Use hydrogen peroxide to help remove any mildew and soap scum your curtains may have accrued over the years. Place the liner in your washing machine along with a bath towel and regular detergent, then add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the rinse cycle.
Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide for the Body
Here are 15 ways to use hydrogn peroxide for the body:
16. Encourages Wound Healing
As most of you already know, hydrogen peroxide works as an antiseptic agent that eliminates the harm of microbial contamination on wounds. It also promotes proper wound healing by acting as a signaling molecule which drives redox-sensitive signaling mechanisms to improve dermal wound healing.
17. Inactivates Bacteria, Viruses, Yeast and Fungi
The anti-viral effects of hydrogen peroxide have been studied against the rhinovirus or the common cold. The time required to inactivate three serotypes of rhinovirus using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution was 6-8 minutes. This time increased with decreasing concentrations (18-20 minutes at 1.5%, 50-60 minutes at 0.75%).
According to the CDC (4):
“Hydrogen peroxide works by producing destructive hydroxyl free radicals that can attack membrane lipids, DNA, and other essential cell components.
Catalase, produced by aerobic organisms and facultative anaerobes that possess cytochrome systems, can protect cells from metabolically produced hydrogen peroxide by degrading hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. This defense is overwhelmed by the concentrations used for disinfection.”
Another study found that a 7% stabilized hydrogen peroxide proved to be sporicidal (6 hours of exposure), mycobactericidal (20 minutes), fungicidal (5 minutes) at full strength, virucidal (5 minutes), and bactericidal (3 minutes) at a 1:16 dilution (5).
18. Keep Your Feet Healthy
If you’re dealing with foot fungus, hydrogen peroxide can help. This powerful remedy can effectively kill the fungus on the surface of the foot, as well as any surface bacteria that could cause infection. Pour hydrogen peroxide directly onto the affected area. Do this twice daily until your infection subsides. If you want to soften calluses and corns or want to disinfect minor cuts on the feet, soak your feet in a shallow bath of half hydrogen peroxide and half water.
19. Remove Ear Wax Buildup
You can combine oil with hydrogen peroxide to remove built-up ear wax. Tilt your head to the side and add a couple of drops of oil like olive oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil to your ear, followed by a few drops of hydrogen peroxide (it helps to have someone else do this for you!). Rest here for a few minutes, and then tilt your head to the other side to remove the oil and peroxide and wax.
20. Treat Pimples and Blemishes
If you’re dealing with pimples or breakouts, help clear your skin by dabbing a bit of hydrogen peroxide onto your blemishes. Since hydrogen peroxide acts as an antibacterial, it can help kill the bacteria that trigger an outbreak on your face.
21. Make a Detox Bath
One of my favorite bath therapies is adding hydrogen peroxide to the mix! If you feel a cold or illness coming on, add 32-64 fluid ounces of hydrogen peroxide to your bath. Not only will it help detoxify your body and help relieve pain, but it may stop any infections that are coming on and help your body regain balance.
22. Helps Whiten Teeth
Hydrogen peroxide is often used in mouthwash and toothpaste because it helps to whiten your teeth! You can either swish for 30 seconds with a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide mixed with equal parts water, or pour a little bit of the peroxide on top of your toothbrush before brushing with toothpaste. Always be sure to rinse out your mouth with plenty of water after the fact without swallowing the solution.
23. Works as an Effective Mouthwash
Using an oxidizing mouth rinse, like hydrogen peroxide, as opposed to standard mouthwash with chlorhexidine, has proven useful in reducing stains and plaque, as well as remedying ulcers of the mouth and gum disease (9). Always be sure to mix a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with water (half and half – so half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with half a cup of water) to use as your mouth rinse solution. Then, rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
24. Lighten Your Hair
Among the many uses of hydrogen peroxide, bleaching your hair is one of them. Add natural highlights to your hair by diluting equal parts of 3% hydrogen peroxide with water and adding to a spray bottle. Then, spray this solution onto wet hair to create subtle, natural highlights. Enhance the effect by sitting in the sun with the solution in your hair.
25. Help Heal Canker and Cold Sores
You can speed up the healing of canker and cold sores, according to research published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water, and using a clean cotton swab, dab the mixture onto the affected area three times a day (10).
26. Controls Candida Infections
As an anti-fungal, hydrogen peroxide is an effective agent against the yeast, Candida albicans. If you’re dealing with oral thrush (oral candidiasis), you can prevent the overgrowth of yeast by rinsing your mouth with a diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, followed by a rinse with plain water.
27. May Reduce Stroke
Scientists have found that hydrogen peroxide may help diminish the burden of brain ischemia, or stroke. Their preliminary research suggests that H2O2 produces a supplementary source of oxygen that compensates for the lack of oxygen that occurs in brain tissue during a stroke. More human studies are needed to confirm these results, so don’t go drinking food grade hydrogen peroxide unless it is advised and under the supervision of your doctor or other healthcare professional.
28. Get Rid of Airborne Germs
In addition to cleaning your humidifier or dehumidifier, you can add hydrogen peroxide to these devices to help clean your air, especially if someone in the household is sick. Mix two cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 4 gallons of water and add it to your humidifier.
29. Disinfect Your Toothbrush
If you want to maintain good oral health, giving your toothbrush a good cleaning every now and then is a great place to start. Once a week, soak your toothbrush in 3% hydrogen peroxide for 10 minutes and then rinse well.
30. Remedy for Seborrheic Keratoses
Seborrheic keratoses, a harmless type of skin growth, often pop up after middle age and can look like warts. They pop up on the chest, neck, and back. Hydrogen peroxide has been found to help get rid of them, but you will need to go to your doctor to get a prescription. Your doctor may prescribe a solution of 40% hydrogen peroxide (Eskata), which is applied to the skin and has been found effective in removing the wart-like growths.
Is It Safe to Use Hydrogen Peroxide?
When used properly, hydrogen peroxide is safe to use topically and clean with. Unless otherwise directed by a doctor or healthcare professional, you should not swallow hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizer and can be corrossive to the eyes and skin when applied to large areas. While it can be applied to scrapes and wounds to help disinfect the site of injury, it does have the ability to kill healthy cells nearby. This can trigger redness, stinging, or irritation to the healthy skin surrounding the injured tissue.
Swallowing small amounts of household (3%) hydrogen peroxide usually is not dangerous. It can create a lot of foam, though. When swallowing higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (>3%), you can harm tissues inside the body if not carefully monitored by a healthcare professional.
Researchers for a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine looked at 294 cases of peroxide ingestion over a 10-year period. Patients who swallowed high-concentration peroxide resulted in critical illness, some with a continued disability or death.
The concentrations of hydrogen peroxide consumed by poisoned patients were higher than 10%, which is a much higher concentration than the hydrogen peroxide found in the brown bottles in your general grocery store.
The Bottom Line
There are multiple uses of hydrogen peroxide that go far beyond just wound disinfection. It can be used around the house to clean mirrors, whiten laundry and disinfect cutting boards, or it can be used on the body to lighten hair, remedy canker sores and gingivitis or even remove wax buildup in the ears.
A 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide is the most common concentration used for household and body-use, while a 10% solution may be used in a clinical setting. Concentrations higher than 10% should be avoided.
It is generally safe to use hydrogen peroxide, as long as you dilute it as directed and don’t swallow unless otherwise directed by a doctor or other healthcare professional.