One of the most common household products is 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Everybody knows about hydrogen peroxide or agua oxigenada. Most people have a bottle of it stashed away in the bathroom cabinet.
It’s been a staple in medicine cabinets and first aid kits for generations and commonly used to clean minor cuts and scrapes, but the fact is it can do a whole lot more.
As it turns out, though, most people don’t really know the hydrogen peroxide uses at all. In addition to being a medicine cabinet staple, it deserves an honorary spot among the cleaning supplies as well. And it has other uses beyond that, some of which are so unconventional that they strain the imagination.
In this article, we will explain how H2O2 works and explore the many uses for this safe, natural disinfectant throughout your household. Read on to learn more.
Oxidation Is A Natural Disinfecting Process
H2O2 is made up of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms. It cleans and disinfects through a process known as oxidation. When it comes into contact with organic materials, one of its oxygen atoms releases causing bubbling action.
This chemical reaction creates the effect of a slow burn against microorganisms, yet the only substances present are water (H2O) and oxygen (O) – two non-toxic substances.
Although H2O2 is generally considered safe and non-toxic, it is important to understand – the chemical reaction can be dangerous if not used correctly. There are several grades of H2O2, and some are more powerful than others. It’s important to choose the correct product for your purpose. It is equally important to understand how to use the product correctly.
There’s More Than One Kind Of Peroxide
Here is a brief rundown of the various types of H2O2 available and their proper uses.
- 90% H2O2 is not available to the general public. It is a component of rocket fuel. This product is quite volatile, dangerous and toxic.
- Technical: 35% H2O2 is highly concentrated and has phosphorus added. This product can be diluted with tap water for general use. The phosphorus serves to neutralize chlorine making a non-chlorinated water. This product should not be ingested.
- Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide: This product is also a 35% concentration; however, it can be used in food production. Food-grade hydrogen peroxide is often included in the processing of dairy products and eggs. It may also be applied to the interior lining of product packaging to combat microbial growth. This product is safe to use in food processing. It should not be ingested directly.
- Electronic: 30-32% H2O2 is formulated for industrial use as a cleaning product for electronic parts. It should not be ingested.
- Reagent: 30% H2O2 is quite powerful. It is intended for laboratory use. This product contains a number of stabilizers and should not be ingested.
- Beautician: 6% H2O2 is formulated for use as a component of hair coloring. It should not be ingested.
- Household: 3% H2O2 is readily available on the shelves of supermarkets and drug stores. This is not a pure product in that it contains a number of stabilizers, such as:
- Tetrasodium Phosphate
- Sodium Stanate
This product is good for topical and general household use. It should not be ingested.
Should Any H2O2 Be Used Internally?
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural product, and our bodies actually produce it as part of our immune function. It helps fight infection internally and provides protection against a number of threats, such as:
- Parasite Infestation
- Bacterial Infection
- Toxic Substances
- Yeast Infection
- Viral Infection
Because the body does produce it naturally, some medical and alternative medicine practitioners recommend administering greatly diluted food grade H2O2 internally to boost immune function.
This is a rather experimental practice, and there is not a lot of evidence that it is beneficial. In fact, there have been reports of injuries, illnesses and even fatalities associated with consumption of food grade peroxide (which is intended as a component of food processing and not as a product to be ingested).
It is important to understand that 35% H2O2 is a powerful product. If it comes in contact with your skin, it can cause burns, and it can be extremely harmful to mucus membranes and internal organs.
For this reason, if you want to boost your immune system’s levels of H2O2, you are far better off following a diet that supports your immune system and adopting a healthy lifestyle. This will enhance your body’s natural production of the white blood cells that produce just the right amount of H2O2 to protect your system.
Is Household H2O2 Safe?
Common hydrogen peroxide solution is 3% household H2O2, which is available in stores and online is generally safe when used correctly, and there are many correct and safe ways to use it.
Here is a compilation of tips for using this inexpensive, versatile product in your home and garden and in your personal care and health regimens.
Keep Household Hydrogen Peroxide In Your First Aid Kit & Your Bathroom Cabinet
Most people use peroxide to clean and care for wounds and lesions, and it is ideal for this purpose. It can clean and disinfect new wounds, prevent and treat infection and help wounds scab over and heal.
Don’t use it for more than five days in a row, though. If it is overused, it may damage healthy tissue surrounding the wound. If you find that leaving it on the skin causes irritation, flush the wound with sterile water after cleaning with peroxide. Pat the wound dry with a sterile cloth and bandage as needed.
Wound Cleaner And Disinfectant:
Minor cuts and scrapes should be washed and then flushed with pure H2O2. Allow the solution to bubble up until finished, then apply anti-biotic ointment and bandage as needed.
Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in your vehicle first aid kit so that you can clean wounds right away. It’s also a good idea to carry a bottle along when camping or hiking to clean wounds quickly.
Treat Localized Infection:
You may be able to deal with a small wound that shows minor signs of infection by soaking it in H2O2 for five or ten minutes at a time, two or three times daily. Try this for no longer than 5 days. If symptoms don’t resolve, see a doctor.
Stop Bleeding And Oozing:
If you have a small wound that will not scab over and stop bleeding, try applying pressure with a gauze pad soaked in hydrogen peroxide. Hold it firmly in place for ten minutes or so and then bandage as needed. If bleeding does not stop in a timely manner, seek medical assistance.
Treat Boils Or Acne Lesions:
If you are prone to developing boils or have acne, you can ease the pain and encourage healing by adding a cup of peroxide to a warm bath. Soak for about half an hour to help disinfect your skin and soothe your boils. Pat your skin dry and apply an anti-bacterial moisturizer such as coconut oil.
Talk with your doctor about changing your diet to eliminate systemic toxins that may be causing your problem. For a detoxifying bath, you can increase the amount of H2O2 to 2 quarts. Follow up with a cool or cold water shower to rinse the peroxide residue off your skin before moisturizing with a natural, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal product such as coconut oil.
3 Ways To Discourage Parasites
Parasitic flora and fauna, such as fungal infections and mites flourish in a low oxygen environment. That’s why peroxide can be very effective as a treatment for a wide variety of microscopic parasites that cause skin irritation in humans and animals.
#1 – Bird Mites:
These types of mites can infest a home if wild birds are allowed to nest in the rafters. They are so tiny as to be practically invisible, and they can travel remarkable distances. They may come in through the ceiling and then simply drop down, unobserved, to find a host.
While they cannot live on humans long-term, they will take up short-term and extremely uncomfortable residence on some humans. If wild birds are allowed to stay in residence, the mites will go back and forth between their human and avian hosts and cause a great deal of discomfort.
The key to avoiding bird mites is to keep birds out of your attic, keep your immune system strong enough to fight them off and spray pure household hydrogen peroxide onto affected areas of skin if you do contract these pesky parasites.
Just a couple of applications seems to work wonders. A good, detoxifying peroxide bath (as described above) would also be helpful.
#2 – Fungal Infection:
You can treat fungal infection of the skin with a mixture of equal parts H2O2 and water. For fungal infection of the feet, such as:
- Athlete’s foot fungus
- Toenail fungus
Soak the feet in this mixture for half an hour each night before bedtime. Rinse your feet and dry them thoroughly. Apply an antifungal mixture of coconut oil and oil of oregano ( 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of coconut oil). Put on cotton socks to protect your bedding.
In the morning, spray the feet with a 50-50 mixture of peroxide and water and allow them to air dry. Wear clean cotton socks and footwear that provides good air circulation to enhance healing.
#3 – Ringworm:
The same fungus that causes athlete’s foot also causes ringworm. A detoxifying bath as described in the previous section can be helpful. In between baths, keep the lesions clean and dry by washing and applying 50-50 peroxide and water followed by the coconut oil and oil of oregano like this mixture. Wear light-weight, loose clothing that allows good air circulation.
Dealing with a fungal infection can be a lifelong challenge. If you don’t have good results within a week to ten days, see your doctor. If you have a systemic fungal infection, a prescription medication may help.
6 Personal Care Tips
Household peroxide makes an excellent addition to your personal care routine. You can reap many benefits affordably from head to toe when you take advantage of the power of hydrogen peroxide.
#1 – Remove Hard Skin On The Feet:
The same soaking method that will help with athlete’s foot and toenail fungus will also help with calluses and corns on the feet. Give your feet a good, weekly soak with H2O2 and water. Rinse and dry and then use a pumice stone to whittle down your calluses and corns. The water and peroxide mixture will help break down dry, dead skin so that you can remove it easily and effectively.
#2 – Add Sun-streaks To Your Hair:
Your spray bottle of 50-50 peroxide and water can come in handy for adding gentle, natural looking highlights to your hair. After showering, just spray the mix into your wet hair. Comb it through and wait about five minutes. To accelerate the effect, sit in the sun. Rinse and condition.
#3 – Whiten And Brighten Your Fingernails:
Add an H2O2 soak to your manicure process to clean and whiten your fingernails. This is an especially helpful tip for men whose work leaves their nails dirty and stained. Naturally, if you suffer from nail fungus under your fingernails, this treatment will help.
#4 – Treat Facial Acne:
Use your 50-50 mix as a toner once a week. Treat individual pimples with a little bit of full-strength peroxide applied with a cotton ball or cotton swab. Repeat nightly at bedtime for 5 days.
#5 – Deodorant
Got stinky pits that leave stains on your clothes? Apply a mixture of dishwashing solution and hydrogen peroxide to the stain in a 1:2 ration, then let it sit for an hour or so. Then rinse with cold water to eliminate the stain.
#6 – Eye Care
Use Hydrogen peroxide to clean contact lenses – it’s very effective for eliminating the proteins that can build up on the lenses over time.
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5 Dental Care Uses
Although 3% hydrogen peroxide is not intended for internal use, it does have an important place in daily dental care. In proper concentrations, it can be used for whitening, disinfecting, freshening breath and more.
#1 – Whiten Your Teeth:
A homemade paste of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and oil of peppermint can work wonders on dingy, stained teeth. To mix it up, just put about half a teaspoon of baking soda in the palm of your hand. Add about 3 drops each of H2O2 and peppermint (or spearmint) essential oil. Stir them around with your dampened toothbrush and brush your teeth.
Let the mixture sit for about 3 minutes (if you can) and rinse your mouth with warm water. This mixture will freshen your breath and whiten your teeth.
Sodium carbonate or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide adducted creates sodium percarbonate. This bleaching agent has been widely used to whiten teeth.
While it may be tempting to do this every day, resist that temptation. Both peroxide and baking soda can damage your tooth enamel if you overdo it. Once a week is ample.
#2 – Make Your Own Mouthwash:
Use your 50-50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and water as a mouth rinse. Just pour a bit into a shot glass and add a couple of drops of oil of peppermint, oil of spearmint or chlorophyll to add flavor and even more anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
You can do a quick rinse as you would with commercial mouthwash, but for better results, try to swish the liquid around in your mouth and through your teeth for 5-10 minutes. This will help kill germs and prevent problems such as canker sores. You can use this mixture daily, but rinse with warm water afterward to prevent damage to your tooth enamel.
#3 – Treat Canker Sores:
If you have a cold sore or canker sore, you can make short work of it by soaking a cotton ball in pure H2O2 and holding it against the sore for about 3 minutes. If full strength peroxide is too strong, use your 50-50 mixture. If a whole cotton ball is too big to fit comfortably on the sore, tear it in half. This treatment usually resolves pain immediately and cures the sore within a few hours.
#4 – Treat A Toothache:
If you practice good oral hygiene and use your homemade peroxide mouth rinse daily, you are unlikely to get a toothache, but if you do H2O2 can come to the rescue. Even though it is not an analgesic, it can ease pain by eradicating the germs that are causing your pain.
Try holding a cotton ball soaked in peroxide against the gums surrounding the tooth. You may need to warm the peroxide gently by placing the bottle in a bowl of warm water before allowing the liquid to come in contact with your sensitive tooth.
This is not a substitute for seeing the dentist if you have a damaged or infected tooth, but it may help you to bide the time until you can get to a dentist.
#5 – Keep Your Toothbrush Clean:
It’s a good idea to disinfect your toothbrush about once a week. Soaking it in hydrogen peroxide and then rinsing it with hot water will do the trick. Be sure to change your toothbrush about once a month or more often if it shows signs of wear.
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5 Hydrogen Peroxide Uses For Your Ears, Nose and Throat
With a little mindful attention, you can often prevent earaches, ear infections and even colds and flu. If you are able to catch a virus or even a bacterial infection early on, there is often quite a bit you can do to relieve your symptoms and shorten the duration of your suffering.
#1 – Ward Off Swimmer’s Ear:
To avoid getting an earache after swimming, bathing or showering, prepare a 50-50 solution of H2O2 and vinegar (white or apple cider are both fine). Keep it in a small dropper bottle for use after every exposure to water. Just a few drops in each ear will help promote drying and kill germs, bacteria and fungus that might cause problems.
#2 – Keep Your Ears Clean:
You can eliminate excess ear wax with peroxide.
You’ll want to have these items by your side to complete this process:
- A dropper bottle filled with peroxide
- A dropper bottle filled with olive oil
- A couple of clean cotton balls
After a bath or shower, lie on your side and instill a couple of drops of H2O2 in your ear. You’ll probably hear it bubbling. Wait until it stops (a minute or two) then add a couple of drops of olive oil.
Stay in place for a couple of minutes. Place a cotton ball in the outer area of your ear to soak up drips. Roll over to your other side to repeat the process in your other ear.
This process should dissolve ear wax and cause it to drain out onto the cotton ball you have placed in your ear. Take care not to push the cotton ball into the ear canal. Just place it firmly in the outer ear.
Note: If you are experiencing pain in your ears or jaw, don’t use this remedy. If you are planning to fly within the week, don’t use this remedy.
#3 – Treat Sinus Infection:
Sometimes a sinus infection can be treated using a light solution of 3% H2O2 and purified water. Use the mixture as nasal spray or nose drops 2-3 times daily for a week. If your symptoms do not improve, see your doctor.
To make this solution, you’ll need a cup of filtered or distilled water, boiled and cooled. Add a tablespoonful of peroxide and immediately decant the mixture into a sterilized nasal spray bottle or sterilized dropper bottle.
You will have quite a bit left over. Don’t try to save it. Just discard it. Don‘t save any part of your mixture for more than a week.
Understand that it is important that you use clean hands and utensils and have a clean surface for preparing this mixture. You don’t want to introduce any foreign bacteria into your sinuses as this can be quite dangerous.
#4 – Treat Ear Infection:
Lie on your side and instill 3-6 drops of pure, 3% H2O2 into the affected ear. Stay in place for as long as you can (at least 10 minutes) to allow the peroxide to bubble up completely and come into good contact with the infected area of your ear. Repeat on the opposite side, even if the other ear does not seem to be infected. This will help prevent infection. If your symptoms do not subside within a few days, see your doctor.
#5 – Relieve Cold And Flu Symptoms:
The treatment described above for treating an ear infection can also be very helpful in warding off or minimizing a cold or the flu. The minute you begin to feel as if you are coming down with a cold, treat both ears with peroxide. Repeat daily for 3 days.
This simple treatment is often very effective in warding off colds and flu if you catch it early on. If you are already suffering, this treatment can help relieve your symptoms and shorten the duration of your illness.
20 Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide Around The House
So far we’ve seen that a spray bottle containing a 50-50 solution of household peroxide and water can come in very handy in terms of personal care and healing. It may surprise you to know that it’s also a great thing to have around the house for use in the kitchen, bathroom and anywhere you want safe, simple, convenient disinfecting abilities.
Here are a few of the things you can do with a half-and-half solution of H2O2 and water in a spray bottle:
#1 – All Purpose Surface Clean: Use as you would any all-purpose cleaner to disinfect and add shine to countertops, appliances and other water resistant, non-porous surfaces.
#2 – Tub, tile, sink and toilet: You can disinfect and clean all of these challenging surfaces without risking damage to your septic system and without polluting groundwater. Just spray and wipe. Full-strength, it is streak free and can be used on mirrors and other glass surfaces. If you prefer you prefer, you can use peroxide full strength to clean and sanitize bathroom fittings.
#3 – Disinfect your cutting boards: After cutting up chicken, fish or any other potentially hazardous foodstuff, wash your board with hot water. Spray with H2O2 and water and then rinse the board with pure white vinegar. Dry it and keep the board in the open air to prevent growth of bacteria and fungus. This process will keep your cutting board free of salmonella and other common contaminants.
#4 – Disinfect portable food containers: Use full strength 3% H2O2 to disinfect surfaces such as the interior of your fridge or the inside of cooler bags, lunch boxes and coolers.
#5 – Tackle very tough jobs: When cleaning cages, litter boxes and other challenging items, follow this procedure:
- Rinse with hot water.
- Spray with full strength H2O2.
- Spray with full strength white vinegar.
- Rinse with hot water.
- Repeat as needed.
- Air dry, preferably in the sunshine.
Don’t pre-mix the vinegar and peroxide because the chemical reaction that results from mixing them has powerful cleaning action, but it is transient.
Note that you can use apple cider vinegar (ACV) for this purpose, but there is really no need to. White vinegar is just as effective for cleaning. Save the ACV for health related uses.
#6 – Clean tile and grout: If you have stained tile and/or grout, mix up a paste of white flour and H2O2. Spread it over the stained surface and cover it with plastic. Leave it for about 8 hours (overnight). Don’t leave it too long because you don’t want it to dry out. After enough time has elapsed, rinse the mixture away using hot water. If any stain remains, try scrubbing with a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste.
#7 – Remove toilet bowl stains: Before you go to bed at night, pour a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl. Flushing and perhaps a light scrub should remove any stains the next day.
#8 – Clean your tub and shower stall: Spray full strength H2O2 onto the surface of your tub and/or shower. Allow it to sit for half an hour and then clean with a damp cloth and/or scrub brush. The peroxide will have softened and loosened dirt, oil and soap scum, making it easy to remove.
#9 – Fade and remove mold and mildew stains: Clean mold away with full strength H2O2 and hot water. Be sure to remedy the problem that was allowing the mold to grow. Check the area frequently to be sure mold has not returned. Spray with full strength peroxide to prevent mold growth and fade any mold and mildew stains. Note that if your mold problem is severe, you should engage a professional mold eradication service to deal with it as mold can be quite dangerous.
#10 – Disinfect the dishwasher: Just add a couple of ounces of H2O2 to your regular dishwashing formula to clean your dishes and the inside of your dishwasher completely.
#11 – Sanitize your humidifier: Add a pint of H2O2 to one gallon of distilled water to clean and sanitize your humidifier. You don’t need to do this on a continuous basis, but if you use a humidifier daily, it’s a good idea to use this method to clean it at least once a month.
#12 – Whiten your clothes: Use peroxide as a laundry additive in the place of bleach. One cup per full wash-load will whiten and brighten your garments and linens without damaging them or polluting the environment.
#13 – Remove stains from fabrics and textiles.: H2O2 poured directly on a stain will lift it out and make it easier to wash away. It is especially effective for removing blood stains, even after they have dried and set. Be aware that peroxide can fade fabrics, so you should test it in an inconspicuous spot (e.g. the inside of a hem) before using it as a stain remover.
To remove stains from fabric, lay the fabric on a pad of absorbent material and pour peroxide directly onto the stain. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes and then blot away moisture with paper towels. Rinse under cold, running water and then launder the garment as usual.
You can also use this method to remove stains from light colored rugs and upholstery. After blotting away excess peroxide, clean the area with a damp cloth. Be sure to test in an inconspicuous area first as peroxide can bleach some textiles excessively.
#14 – Remove tough stains from fabrics: Mix H2O2 half and half with dish soap. Apply this mixture directly to the stain. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes and then rinse and scrub. Launder as usual.
#15 – Freshen fabrics: If washable seasonal garments and linens have become musty smelling in storage, soak them using a 50-50 combination of H2O2 and white vinegar. Use a half cup of each to a full washer-load. Allow the load to stand and soak for an hour or so and then wash as usual. You may need to add an extra rinse. Add vinegar alone to the rinse water to further freshen fabrics and to act as a natural softener.
#16 – Disinfect cleaning cloths and sponges: Wash your cleaning cloths and sponges in hot water, wring them out and put them into a bucket. Pour a bottle of pure H2O2 over them and allow them to soak for half an hour.
Wring out excess and allow the cleaning cloths and sponges to air dry, preferably in the sunshine. If you are not able to provide open air and sunshine for drying, rinse your cleaning implements and dry them in a hot dryer. Never store cleaning implements damp because this will encourage bacterial and mold growth.
#17 – Soak your fresh produce: When you bring fresh produce home from the market or in from your garden, soak it for half an hour in the sink or in a large tub of cool water with a quarter cup of H2O2 and a quarter cup of white vinegar added. This will kill contaminants such as:
- E. coli
When the half hour is up, rinse the produce thoroughly and lay it out on racks and/or toweling to air dry. Wrap produce lightly in paper toweling and place in plastic bags or plastic wrap in your refrigerator. Clean, thoroughly dried produce stored in this manner will stay fresh for a very long time.
#18 – Quick veggie spray: If you are in a hurry, you can simply spray your fresh produce with 50-50 H2O2 and water, rinse it, allow it to air dry and store as described above.
#19 – Get a jump start on the growing season: Before starting your seeds prior to spring planting, soak them in peroxide overnight. This helps remove fungus spores. It also accelerates the rate of germination. This technique will give you faster germination.
#20 – Grow safe sprouts: If you like to grow your own sprouts for salads and cooking, add a little H2O2 to the water (one ounce per pint). This will reduce the threat of bacterial and fungal growth. Use this solution every time you change the water. Be sure to rinse the sprouts thoroughly before eating them.
It’s easy to see that hydrogen peroxide is a valuable addition to any medicine chest or cleaning supplies cabinet. While this product is generally considered safe to use, be sure to follow all recommended precautions.
Exercise common sense. Don’t inhale the product, swallow it or put it in your eyes. Understand that if you do ingest household hydrogen peroxide, you may need a trip to the ER. Inhaling the product or applying it to sensitive tissue can result in burns. Swallowing this product can cause nausea, vomiting and dizziness. If you ingest a great deal of it, it could cause death.
Understand that the tips presented here are for information purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Discuss the use of H2O2 with your doctor or other health professional before adding this product to your health and personal care routine.