That brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide in your bathroom cabinet or first aid kit can do a lot more than taking care of small cuts and wounds. You can boost the performance of plants in your garden, clean your home and laundry, and improve your beauty routine.
What Is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is the chemical compound H2O2, made up of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms. It's a pale blue liquid in its pure form.
Hydrogen peroxide is sold in concentrations of 3 to 10 percent at most drug stores. The 3 percent solution works great for household cleaning and disinfecting.
Hydrogen peroxide comes in the dark brown bottle because it breaks down to plain water when exposed to heat, light, and air. The decomposition isn't harmful, but if the "fizz" is gone when you beginning cleaning you're just using plain water. Use the bottle within a month or so for the best results, but it can still be used for about six months after opening.
18 Ways to Use Hydrogen Peroxide Around the Home
Sanitize Beauty and Manicure Tools
Each time you use tweezers, manicure or pedicure tools, and eyelash curlers they come in contact with body soil and bacteria. A dip or rub-down with a bit of hydrogen peroxide will sanitize the tools and prevent infections.
Disinfect Toothbrushes and Mouth Guards
Toothbrushes, retainers, and sports mouth guards can be disinfected by a quick soak in hydrogen peroxide. Give each a good rinse with plain water before using them.
There is one thing you should not do with hydrogen peroxide: swallow it. Even at the 3 percent concentration, it can cause blistering in the mouth, vomiting, and abdominal distress.
Get Sweet-Smelling, Prettier Feet
Smelly feet are covered with bacteria that are causing the odor. Mix a foot soak with one part hydrogen peroxide to three parts warm water. The same treatment will help protect against spreading athlete's foot fungus and even soften calluses and corns.
Whiten Discolored Nails
Mix one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts baking soda in a bowl to form a paste. It will foam a bit but when it stops spread the paste over and under your nails. Let it work for three minutes and then rinse with plain water.
Freshen and Disinfect Kitchen Sponges
Kitchen sponges harbor some really scary bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella. Disinfect them daily with a solution of 50 percent water and 50 percent hydrogen peroxide.
Keep Cutting Boards Bacteria-Free
Each time you use wooden or plastic cutting boards, little scratches appear that can trap bacteria. A quick spritz with hydrogen peroxide will keep them safe to use.
Sanitize Your Refrigerator
After you've cleaned out your refrigerator and before you add that new box of baking soda, spray the inside with hydrogen peroxide to kill any lingering bacteria. Let it work for several minutes and then wipe down with plain water.
Brighten Discolored Cookware
Mix a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to spread on the interior of discolored ceramic-coated cookware. This will help lighten stains and gently clean the surface.
Make Reusable Grocery Bags Healthier
Reusable grocery bags are great for the environment but not always so good for your health. The bags should be washed frequently and correctly. However, if you don't have time for a thorough cleaning, give the interiors a quick spray with hydrogen peroxide to kill harmful bacteria.
Clean Tile Grout
Grout between the bathroom and kitchen tiles not only gets dirty, but it can also get covered with mildew. One of the best ways to kill the fungus is hydrogen peroxide. To whiten grout, mix a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Spread it on the tile (it will also help cut through soap scum) and let it work for five minutes. Wipe away with plain water to see the sparkle.
Put a Shine on Mirrors
Use a lint-free microfiber cloth and a spray of hydrogen peroxide to create a streak-free mirror.
Whiten Dingy Clothes
If you don't like using chlorine bleach, add some hydrogen peroxide instead to a load of dingy white clothes. Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the washer or automatic bleach dispenser before adding water or clothes.
Get Rid of Underarm Sweat Stains on White Shirts
Mix 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the solution into underarm stains and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Give it one more final scrub with the brush and then wash as usual.
Dehumidifiers and humidifiers are perfect breeding grounds for molds due to the moisture and heat they collect or generate. Keep them clean by running a solution of half water and half hydrogen peroxide through them monthly.
Kill Dust Mites
Dust mites thrive on the small bits of skin we shed in our homes, particularly in the bedroom. Give your mattress a spray with hydrogen peroxide to kill the insects. Allow the mattress to dry completely before remaking the bed with clean bedding.
Disinfect Kids' and Pets' Toys
To kill germs and bacteria, spray plastic toys with hydrogen peroxide. Allow it to sit on the surfaces for a few minutes and then rinse with plain water.
Make Your Garden Grow
That extra oxygen molecule in hydrogen peroxide boosts a plant's ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. And all it takes is just a little bit. Mix a solution of one teaspoon hydrogen peroxide in one gallon of room-temperature water. Use it right away to fertilize outdoor and indoor plants.
Protect Plants From Disease
Chemical Disinfectants. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Sept. 2016
Lauschadendorf, S, et al. Short-Term Effect of Solidified Benzyl Benzoate on Mite-Allergen Concentrations in House Dust. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol. 87, no. 1, 1991, pp. 41–47., doi:10.1016/0091-6749(91)90211-6
UAF Indoor Plant Program (IPP) - Pest Management Information. University of Alaska Fairbanks. Updated 10/21/19.