9 Household Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide You Never Considered

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

Need to 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 may be all you need to get the job done.

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound 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. Since catalase is not found on the surface of human skin, hydrogen peroxide only bubbles on broken skin. Those bubbles are a reaction that releases oxygen gas.

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

Getty Images

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. First of all, it doesn't kill every kind of bacteria. And secondly, it also kills fibroblasts, 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 dirty dish scrubbers, dish towels, rags, sponges, and toilet brushes. (They don't clean themselves!) It's also useful for cleaning items in sickrooms such as thermometers and bedpans.

Spray some hydrogen peroxide directly on the items, let it bubble up, and repeat. If something is really dirty, it can be soaked.

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

In the Bathroom

Hydrogen peroxide is also useful for cleaning hygiene items like toothbrushes, loofahs, and other kinds of sponges. Plus it disinfects facial cleansing devices, shaving brushes, and those pricy reusable makeup blenders.

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 harbor bacteria. But using chemical cleaning products inside your refrigerator isn't ideal either. Just put some non-toxic hydrogen peroxide on a paper towel, rag, or sponge and use that to clean the shelves, walls, etc.

To Clean Your Shower

Struggling with mold and mildew? Hydrogen peroxide makes a great anti-fungal. Just pour some into 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!

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 need for a fancy brush cleaner! Using hydrogen peroxide to clean any kind of beauty tool prevents bacteria from spreading to your skin, which can help curb acne.

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 double-check) to your washing machine before you add the clothing and water.

Hydrogen peroxide makes a great substitute for bleach, especially in a pinch. Just make sure to 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, you don't need to use both hydrogen peroxide and bleach at the same time. The sodium hypochlorite in the chlorine bleach will overpower the hydrogen peroxide, essentially turning it into water. So your clothing won't be any cleaner.

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. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Long Does Hydrogen Peroxide Last?

    Hydrogen peroxide has a shelf life of approximately six months after opening and should be stored in a cool, dark place. Hydrogen peroxide is normally packaged in a brown bottle because light and heat can break it down, so your bathroom's medicine cabinet may actually not be the best place for it.

  • Can you use expired hydrogen peroxide?

    Expired hydrogen peroxide isn't harmful, but it won't necessarily be effective. To test if it's still good, pour a little bit down the bathroom sink—the solution should react with the metal drain and bubble. If it doesn't, it's time for a new bottle.

Was this page helpful?
Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.
  1. PubChem, Hydrogen Peroxide (Compound).

  2. Rueda-Fernández M, Melguizo-Rodríguez L, Costela-Ruiz VJ, et al. Effect of the most common wound antiseptics on human skin fibroblasts. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2022;47(8):1543-1549. doi:10.1111/ced.15235

Related Articles