Last week I heard from one of my readers who wrote about hydrogen peroxide—something I’ve written about in the past, but not so much in the context of this reader’s personal report.

I loved her story and outcome but needed to confirm that hydrogen peroxide is safe, reasonable and recommended to be used as a mouthwash.


In the process I ran into a whole lot more than I was looking for—multiple uses for hydrogen peroxide around the house, some new some not so new but perhaps forgotten.

Kitchen counters

Clean your counters, table tops with hydrogen peroxide to kill germs and leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or spray it on the counters.

Cutting boards

After rinsing off your wooden cutting board, pour hydrogen peroxide on it to kill salmonella and other bacteria. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer.

Teeth whitening

Mix salt, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide to make a paste for brushing your teeth. Not only will this help to reverse the early stages of gingivitis, used regularly, it will also remove stains and whiten your teeth.

Sanitize the refrigerator

Use 3% hydrogen peroxide undiluted in a spray bottle to clean and sanitize the walls and shelves of your refrigerator. Because it is non-toxic, it is absolutely safe to use around food.

RELATED: The Wonders of Hydrogen Peroxide

Reusable shopping bags

More than likely the reusable bags you take to the supermarket are contaminated with germs, even E-coli. That’s because grocery bags often come in contact with poultry meats and produce that have bacteria on them which causes cross-contamination the next time they are used. These bags should be laundered after every use, but most shoppers admit they’ve never done that. An easier solution is to spray them inside and out with ordinary 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Remove blood stains

Blood stains in kitchen towels, clothes or other items can be difficult to remove. The secret is to saturate the stain with hydrogen peroxide. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then rinse with water then launder as usual.

Whiten laundry

Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to a load of white laundry to whiten and brighten without using chlorine bleach. Allow to pre-soak for 15 minutes, if possible, before you start the wash cycle.

Avoid disappointment

Hydrogen peroxide is powerful both as a household cleaner and all around remedy. It is non-toxic, safe, really cheap and available in any grocery or drug store in a food- grade 3% dilution. It’s a wonderful cleaning product and reliable sanitizer.

But there’s one thing you need to keep in mind to avoid disappointment: Hydrogen peroxide has a limited shelf life of about one year when not opened, and only six months once opened—provided you store it in a dark place. It dissipates quickly in the presence of sunlight,  turning it from H2O2 to plain water and oxygen. It must be fresh to be effective!

Safe to use as mouthwash?

So back to the letter from reader Caren, who wrote:

I read your article on prevention for dental care.  I just wanted to add another item to the arsenal for dental care—hydrogen peroxide. I was facing a $1600 cost for scaling and root-planing for a mild to medium case of gingivitis.

While I was deciding when to make the appointment, I spoke with a coworker who was a part-time dental hygienist. She recommended hydrogen peroxide as a pre-brush rinse. I decided to give it a try.

I got a 16 oz. bottle for less than $1, took a swig and rinsed before every brushing. It was nasty tasting for the first week until I got used to it but what a difference!! My next cleaning was so good the dentist asked if I had the scaling and root-planing done somewhere else. I told her about my experiment and that $3 was a whole lot more affordable than $1600. (I went thru 3 bottles in 6 months.)

I started this more than 8 years ago and I continue to have excellent checkups. I’m not saying this will cure anything or prevent cavities but it is another tool in the box for dental care. My gums are healthier with little to no bleeding and very, very minor pain during the cleaning. I’m 54 years old with “soft” teeth prone to cavities and gingivitis and this was something easy to incorporate into my routine.

So is Caren’s routine safe, reasonable and recommended? According to IntelligentDental, hydrogen peroxide can be used safely as a mouthwash, provided the FDA approved 1%-3% concentration mixed with equal parts water is strictly adhered to.

In this way, it can be used to treat trench mouth, gingivitis, plaque, and, in some cases, help to whiten your teeth.

It is extremely important to stick to the FDA recommended concentration of 1%-3% that can be bought in drugstores and pharmacies. Using too high a concentration of peroxide is known to cause skin injuries and its ingestion is possibly fatal, especially at 35% concentration. Anything above 3% grade would be considered dangerous to use as a mouthwash.

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