16 Amazing Ways Hydrogen Peroxide Can Make Your Life Easier

Some time ago I got a message, which reminded me about the wonders of ordinary product hydrogen peroxide—a product most people have somewhere in the house. Georgia wrote …

hydrogen peroxide poured onto cloth for cleaning

I had a cut on my hand that opened up while I was putting my expensive duvet cover on my comforter. Now I have blood stains where I touched it. Is there any hope of getting these stains out completely? I tried using a carpet cleaning solution and washing it but those stains remain. I’m worried they’ll be there permanently. Thanks so much for your help! 

I responded immediately, directing Georgia to soak the stains with fresh, full-strength hydrogen peroxide. I heard back quickly. The hydrogen peroxide lightened the stains almost immediately, and within hours they disappeared completely.

I’ll be honest that back then, removing blood stains was about all I ever used hydrogen peroxide for. And because it has such a short shelf life, I was forever throwing out old, useless hydrogen peroxide.

Since then, I’ve learned so much and done extensive research and wow. The stuff is downright wonderful from cleaning to mouthwash—so awesome in fact, I never throw hydrogen peroxide away anymore. It doesn’t have time in my home to age out. That’s how much I use it.

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

It has to be fresh

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.

Light causes hydrogen peroxide to dissipate quickly turning it from H2O2 to plain water and oxygen. It needs to be fresh to be effective.

If it’s been opened and older than six months, throw it out. It’s useless! You will be terribly disappointed.

To make sure that you never have to throw out hydrogen peroxide again, check out all the ways you can use it around the house to make your life easier!

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.

Vegetable wash

You can stop paying $7 or more for “veggie wash.” Make your own by adding 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide to a sink of cold water. Wash your fruit and vegetables in the solution then rinse thoroughly with cool water.

Dishwasher

To disinfect your dishwasher, add 1/4 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide before you close the door to run an empty complete cycle.

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 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Remove blood stains

Bloodstains 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, rinse with water, and 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.

Cutting board sanitizer

Spray your cutting board with undiluted hydrogen peroxide. Allow to sit for a minute or two, then rinse clean.

Disinfect countertops

Mix hydrogen peroxide with water in equal parts in a spray bottle. Apply directly to the surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom—any place you want to keep sanitized. Wipe dry with clean towel or sponge

T-shirt armpit stains

Those yellow stains in white t-shirts are quite annoying. To get them out, follow the step-by-step instructions here: How to Remove Yellow Sweat Stains—It Really Works!

Sanitize toys and lunch boxes

Because hydrogen peroxide is a non-toxic sanitizer, it’s perfect for cleaning plastic toys and lunch boxes.

Humidifier cleanse

Add 2 cups 3% hydrogen peroxide to one gallon of water. Run this through your humidifier or steamer to clean and sanitize the appliance.

Stinky towels

Can’t get rid of that annoying odor? Try this: Add 1/2 cup fresh hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 cup white vinegar to the washing machine along with those stinky towels. Fill with hot water and your regular detergent and allow it to soak for 15 minutes. Continue the cycle as normal. That should get rid of the smell. If you still detect that odor read Solution for Gross, Smelly Towels for more aggressive treatment.

Aquarium maintenance

Use hydrogen peroxide sparingly to control fungi and other pests in fish aquariums. Provided you do use it sparingly, it will not harm the fish. For specific instructions, read more here.

White teeth

To whiten teeth with hydrogen peroxide: 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.

Because hydrogen peroxide dissipates so quickly, you’ll need to make this right before every use.

Disinfect toothbrushes

At least weekly, it’s a great idea to pour some hydrogen peroxide over your toothbrushes. This can help kill staph and other bacteria, lessening the chance of introducing it back into your mouth.

Mouthwash

This is long, but worth the read, starting with this letter from reader Caren, who wrote:

I read your article on prevention for dental care and want to add another item to the arsenal for dental care—hydrogen peroxide. I was facing a $1,600 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 of hydrogen peroxide for less than $1, took a swig and rinsed before every brushing. Hydrogen peroxide 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 $1,600. (I went thru 3 bottles in 6 months.)

This is a routine I began 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 toolbox for preventive 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 that are prone to cavities and gingivitis and this was something easy and inexpensive to incorporate into my routine.

So is Caren’s routine for hydrogen peroxide mouthwash, reasonable and recommended? According to WebMD, 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, hydrogen peroxide mouthwash is effective 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% available in drugstores and pharmacies. Using too high a concentration of peroxide may, in rare cases, cause skin injuries and ingesting it in very high dosages of 35% concentration is possibly fatal. Anything above 3% grade is potentially dangerous to use as a mouthwash.

Avoid disappointment

Hydrogen peroxide is powerful both as a household cleaner and an 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 a 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, changing it from H2O2 to plain water and oxygen. It must be fresh to be effective!

First published: 9-27-16; Expanded, updated, and republished: 1-14-20.


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25 replies
  1. Gary says:

    Mary, I don’t see any expiration date on my bottle of Peroxide. Any other method to determine if it should be discarded beside the date on the bottle. The reason I ask is when I put it on a cut the other day it fizzed up as usual so I’m wondering if it is still good if it does that?

    Also what I use on a small cut is Adhesive Tape, not the cheap stuff I use a name brand. I have done this for years. Something my Aunt told me well over 60 yrs ago. I also use it on a cut that has gotten infected and it draws the infection out. I push on the wound in a few days & if it is still sore I replace the tape & leave on for a few more days. It will turn the skin white but it returns to normal color after it is removed in a few days. Works, been doing it for over 60 yrs.

    Reply
  2. Ed says:

    Here’s 3 that I haven’t seen listed yet:

    A clerk at the local big box pet store once told me that they use hydrogen peroxide to keep the water oxygenated in the aquariums when the power goes out. I looked it up online and sure enough, it’s true. Look up how much to use (there’s a recommended amount and a max. emergency dose) for your tank. You can kill your fish with too much.
    When my dog ate mouse poison the vet had me give her a cap full of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. It worked like a charm. A relative recently got the same instructions when one of their pets ate something it shouldn’t have.
    I made a terrarium several years ago and read to water it with 3% hydrogen peroxide. It waters the plants, oxygenates the roots and prevents mold.

    Reply
  3. Linda Radosevich says:

    I use hydrogen peroxide to wipe down my lavatory and mirrors in my bathrooms. No streaky marks on the glass, and sanitized too.

    Reply
  4. Julie N says:

    Current medical research indicates that using hydrogen peroxide on a wound is more harmful to the tissue than healing, because it destroys your cells around the injury. Please check it out — you will find information on many reputable medical websites.
    I have personal experience with this older idea of using peroxide on wounds. I attribute the fact that my ripped-off fingernail did not grow back properly to following the advice of peroxide soaks from an older friend not familiar with the latest studies. When I eventually saw a doctor (it turned out I broke the bone, too), he explained exactly why using peroxide was not a good idea.

    Reply
  5. Judi says:

    You are not suppose to use it on any part an open cut or sore. I was told this by a doctor a couple of years ago. Julie N, you are right.

    Reply
  6. Dianne says:

    I bought an older home, with w2w carpet that the previous owner put down to hide stains in a beautiful red oak floor, which in the 50’s was the actual underlayment flooring of choice. I read an article that said to soak a clean light-colored cloth with hydrogen peroxide and let it sit on the stain until dry, then repeat as needed. I was skeptical at first but to my surprise, it actually worked! Yes, it removed the multiple stains, however it did lighten the floor, which we did not mind since the person coming to sand said he would not have been able to sand down most of the stains due to age and how dark they were! It worked wonders!!

    Reply
  7. x_ray_tech says:

    I have read that using an equal mixture of Peroxide and vinegar sprayed on mold and mildew will remove it. The article said not to mix the two together but put in separate spray bottles to spray one on the area immediately followed by the other spray. Let dry and wipe away. I don’t know if it works as I have never tried it myself. Anyone know?

    Reply
  8. CS says:

    Dear Mary,

    Thank you for all the wonderful advice and laughs through the years. Your H2O2 reminded me of a wonderful hint. I use H2O2 constantly, so what I do is leave it in the bottle & add a clean sprayer head (Shout sprayer heads work) & leave it under my sink and in my bathroom. The dark bottle protects it & the sprayer makes it easy to use and disinfect. BTW I do the same thing with alcohol.

    Many more thanks than I can write here,

    Cristina

    Reply
  9. george says:

    To remove fresh blood from a cloth you use COLD water along with a weak solution of an enzyme type laundry cleaner. Never use hot water -0- that will ‘set’ the color in the fabric – the more ‘natural’ (cotton) the fabric the more important to use cold water and an enzyme cleaner – also oxygenating bleaches (Clorox II/example) will ‘whiten’ while chlorinating bleaches will ‘yellow.’ I once was (for 25 years) a certified color restoration technician in the carpet cleaning industry.

    Reply
  10. Emma Keys says:

    If I store my hydrogen peroxide in a blue glass spray bottle, does that affect it’s effectiveness? I know it needs to stay away from light (hense why it is sold in a dark brown plastic bottle). I’m just wondering if me transferring it to a dark blue glass spray bottle affects it?

    Reply
  11. Kat says:

    I’m a contact lens tech and the recommendation that people use this to clean their contact lenses is slightly misguided. The cleaning system does use peroxide but it also has a catalytic disc that neutralizes the peroxide making it safe to insert the contact lens. If someone were to soak their lenses and then insert them in their eye, not only will it burn, it could cause corneal damage.

    Reply
  12. donnafreedman says:

    While we were caring for our mother during her cancer, my sister the dental hygienist clued me in to a good use of peroxide. An area of my gums had become inflamed and so sore that the glands in my neck were swollen on that side.

    Linda told me to mix a a capful of peroxide and three capfuls of water in a cup and swish it in my mouth on the swollen side, several times per day. She warned me it would taste pretty gnarly — and it did! — but if I could swish it for 60 seconds it would do me good.

    The swelling and pain were gone within a day or so. Linda told me that when patients come in with that condition it’s often a piece of food (popcorn hulls are a big culprit) that you missed when flossing or using the WaterPik. Never found out what caused mine. These days if I get a tender area in my gums, I floss and use the WaterPik and then do the peroxide thing for good measure.

    Reply
    • Me says:

      I found that my frequent bouts of gum irritation became pretty much nonexistent after I started flossing every night without fail. I was never taught to floss as a child and didn’t start until I was probably in my 40s.

      Reply
      • donnafreedman says:

        Oh, I floss regularly (my sister is a dental hygienist) but during that time we were caring for my mother during her last days. I barely found time to shower and admit that some other personal-care habits went by the wayside.

        While I have tried since then to take care of myself no matter what, occasionally a crisis keeps me from being as assiduous as I should be. Working on it.

      • Me says:

        Yeah, flossing can be the first thing one considers tossing aside while trying to get into bed after a long hard day.

        Caregiving is a hard job. 🙁

  13. Babs George says:

    We live in the country and use a septic system. Do you know if hydrogen peroxide will harm it?? My spouse is very particular what type of chemicals we put down our drains. Any help will be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      H2O2, hydrogen peroxide, is liquid oxygen. It dissipates quickly breaking down to water and oxygen. Perfectly safe in a septic system.

      Reply
    • Sue in MN says:

      If dye is stable, 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is GENERALLY safe. If in doubt, test on a seam or hem. Use for the shortest time necessary to remove the stain, launder with mild soap & rinse well. If you avoid warm water & the dryer, you can re-treat if the first try doesn’t completely work. I just used this on a bright orange cotton knit last week & it worked great. I am a quilter and use it all the time on blood from finger pricks, on all kinds of colors. CAUTION! Lab grade HP can be more than 3% concentration and should be used on fabrics with extreme caution.

      Reply

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