That trusty bottle of hydrogen peroxide under the bathroom sink can be used to clean and disinfect more than just cuts. 

By Amanda Lauren
Updated: June 26, 2019
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Need to seriously clean or disinfect something at home quickly and effectively? You probably have the solution on hand already but don’t even know it. Next time you’re in a bind (or even if you’re not), that trusty bottle of hydrogen peroxide that’s probably hiding under your bathroom sink may be all you need to get the job done.

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound made of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O2). It’s a natural disinfectant that bubbles when it comes into contact with an enzyme called catalase. Catalase is found in most cells including blood cells and some bacteria. However, it is not found on the surface of human skin, which is why hydrogen peroxide only bubbles on broken skin. Those bubbles are a reaction that releases oxygen gas.

Hydrogen peroxide has a shelf life of approximately six months after it is opened. The bottle should be stored in a cool, dark place, which is why hydrogen peroxide is normally packaged in a brown bottle. Light and heat can break the compound down, so your bathroom’s medicine cabinet may actually not be the best place for it.

Expired hydrogen peroxide isn’t harmful, but it won’t necessarily be effective. Luckily, there is an easy test to see if your bottle is still good. Just pour a little bit down the bathroom sink—the solution should react with the metal drain and bubble. If it doesn’t, that means it’s time for a new bottle.

There are many hydrogen peroxide uses you’re probably familiar with and others that may surprise you. Here are the most common ways to use hydrogen peroxide around the home.

To Clean Cuts

Your mom probably used hydrogen peroxide to clean your cuts when you were a kid. She was right! It’s great for rinsing away dirt (like when you fell off your bike and skinned your knee) and dried blood. While the solution is helpful for first aid, hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t be used to clean a wound regularly because it doesn’t kill every kind of bacteria. It also kills fibroblasts, which are a tissue your body uses to heal itself.

As a Disinfectant

Hydrogen peroxide is a great way to disinfect your home. Use it to clean your cleaning supplies like those dirty dish scrubbers, rags, sponges, and toilet brushes (they don’t clean themselves). It’s also useful for cleaning items in sickrooms such as thermometers and bedpans.

All you need to do is spray some hydrogen peroxide directly on the items, let it bubble up, and repeat. If something is really dirty, it can be soaked.

In the Bathroom

Another hydrogen peroxide use is for cleaning hygiene items like toothbrushes and loofahs as well as other kinds of sponges. It can also be used to disinfect facial cleansing devices, shaving brushes, and those pricy reusable makeup blenders.

To Clean Fruits and Veggies

Don’t shell out money for those expensive fruit and vegetable washes when hydrogen peroxide can get the job done! Add a quarter of a cup to a sink full of cold water. Then rinse well. It will get rid of any bacteria and pesticides.

To Clean the Dishes

Are your dishes looking dingy? Extra dirty after a heavy meal? Add two ounces of hydrogen peroxide to your liquid dish detergent for an extra cleaning boost.

It can also remove baked-on grime and food stains from dishes. Just combine with baking soda and scrub everything right off.

To Clean Your Refrigerator

The inside of the fridge can really harbor bacteria. But using chemical cleaning products inside your refrigerator isn’t the greatest idea either. Just put some (non-toxic) hydrogen peroxide on a paper towel, rag, or sponge and use that to clean the shelves, walls, etc.

Related: 10 All-Natural Homemade Cleaning Solutions to Scrub Every Inch of Your Home

To Clean Your Shower

Struggling with mold and mildew? Hydrogen peroxide makes a great anti-fungal. Just pour some in an empty spray bottle, spritz away, and wipe down. You can even keep a bottle in the shower and do a quick spray down once a day. Replace the solution when the hydrogen peroxide no longer bubbles on contact with metal.

To Whiten Grout

Are your grout lines looking dingy? Dip an old toothbrush into hydrogen peroxide and go to town! They will whiten right up!

Related: How to Clean Grout the Easy Way

For Beauty Purposes

Style and beauty influencer Sharon Clear uses hydrogen peroxide regularly to clean her makeup brushes. She uses one part water, one part hydrogen peroxide, and allows them to soak for five to seven minutes. Then she air dries the brushes overnight. No fancy brush cleaner, no problem!

Using hydrogen peroxide to clean any kind of beauty tool prevents bacteria from spreading to your skin, which can help curb acne. But if you find yourself breaking out, put a little bit of hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball or pad and dab gently on a pimple.

In the Laundry

Are your white towels and clothing looking just a little bit dingy these days? Or smelling less than pleasant? Hydrogen peroxide to the rescue! Just add one cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution (it’s probably the kind you have already, but be sure to check) to your washing machine before you add the clothing or water.

Hydrogen peroxide makes a great substitute for bleach, especially in a pinch, but just make sure to either test the fabrics first or only use it on whites because it can stain dark fabrics. Hydrogen peroxide is also a more environmentally friendly product than bleach, so you can feel good about using it.

However, it is important to note that you don’t need to go overboard and use both hydrogen peroxide and bleach at the same time. Your clothing won’t be any cleaner. This is because the sodium hypochlorite in the chlorine bleach will overpower the hydrogen peroxide, essentially turning it into water.

To Clean Your Washing Machine

Washing machines, in particular high-efficiency front-loading washing machines, can develop musty odors. This comes from mildew and mold that grows from excess fabric softener and detergent residue left in the machines. We’re all guilty of using a little too much detergent sometimes.

Add two cups of hydrogen peroxide to the empty washing machine drum. Then, run a hot water cycle. This should be done monthly, especially if the weather is humid. Using hydrogen peroxide is also far less expensive than buying products specifically formulated to clean your washing machine.

….But Be Careful

While hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean so many things, it’s best to only mix it with water. Combining the solution with ammonia, chlorine bleach, or vinegar in a closed container can cause unsafe gasses to form.

Related: The Only Household Cleaners You’ll Ever Need

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