50 Hidden Hydrogen Peroxide Uses
Discovered in 1818, Hydrogen Peroxide has become a staple in households around the world. The familiar brown bottle can be found nearly everywhere and used for everything from wound care to plant growth.
The most common versions sold over the counter is the 3% solution for household use and a 6% to 10% used in some hair coloring products. Higher concentrations of food-grade 35% and industrial 90% are also available but require special care and handling. Always remember hydrogen peroxide is not safe to be ingested, and high concentrations should be handled carefully and with appropriate protective equipment.
The signature “fizz” means it’s still working, but if you don’t see that, it does not mean it has gone bad. The dark brown color of the bottle keeps light from entering and causing it to break down. While hydrogen peroxide is light sensitive, its is not as sensitive as people think. It is particularly sensitive to direct sunlight, specifically UV Rays. Room light will do little to no damage to the peroxide. Be sure to store it in a cool, dark, dry place, and it is best in the first few months after it’s been opened if it is a lower strength solution like 3%.
There are many uses for hydrogen peroxide for your health, in your home, and outdoors. It is a common ingredient in cleaning solutions, hair bleaching or lightening products, and medical treatments. Below are 50 ways you can use hydrogen peroxide and a few unexpected places it can be found.
Hydrogen Peroxide For the Body
From teeth whitening to natural highlights in your hair, hydrogen peroxide can be used for self-care in a wide variety of ways. Unless otherwise noted, the concentration referred to throughout these examples is the regular 3% solution found in most stores.
1. Cleaning Your Ears of Wax Buildup
Ear wax can be difficult to remove but adding a couple of drops of olive or almond oil to your ears and then a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide will start to break down the wax making it easier to drain out. After letting it sit for a few minutes, tilt your head and let it drain out. Do not use cotton swabs to remove any excess, but a soft cloth dabbed around the ear canal opening should eliminate the remaining solution.
2. Hair Bleaching and Highlights
The higher 6% to 10% solutions are frequently found in hair bleaching products. The 3% solution, mixed with equal parts to water, sprayed onto wet hair, can create more natural-looking highlights. Be careful not to over saturate; try on a small, easily hidden section first.
It is also frequently found in color treatments that require bleaching your hair to remove more of the dark pigment if you want a lighter shade.
3. Make Your Mouthwash
Use hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash for a great way to kill any bacteria that may cause bad breath. Use a diluted solution to rinse for about one minute. WARNING: Never swallow hydrogen peroxide.
4. Teeth Whitening
Use hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth by rinsing with a diluted solution for one minute then spitting it out. WARNING: Do not swallow!
5. Toothpaste in a Pinch
Like a whitening rinse, making a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide is a great way to clean your teeth and get rid of plaque and bacteria. To boost the whitening effect, add a pinch of salt to the paste.
6. Get Rid of Inflammation in Mouth Injuries
Small wounds on the inside of the mouth cannot be treated with traditional ointments, so swishing a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide can help with inflammation from canker sores or blisters. Cold sores come from a virus, but if they have been scratched or opened, hydrogen peroxide can be used on the surrounding areas if there is inflammation from bacteria in the resulting wounds.
Do Not Swallow Hydrogen Peroxide!
7. Skincare Treatments
Using sterile 3% solution dabbed on to acne or blemishes can help clear your skin. Hydrogen peroxide targets bacteria, so you will see fizzing if it’s working, but be careful not to spread it to other healthy sections of the skin.
8. First Aid General Use*
Hydrogen peroxide has long been used to treat small wounds and cuts. When it comes into contact with bacteria, the familiar white foam appears while it disinfects the area. However, it will also kill healthy skin cells and can be harmful if it gets into your eyes or ingested. So while it may not be commonly recommended for disinfecting wounds anymore, it can still be used in a pinch if other options are available.
Doctors are on the fence about recommending hydrogen peroxide these days for use as an antiseptic.
9. Whiten the Tips of Your Fingernails
Make a paste pf one-part hydrogen peroxide and two parts baking soda to rub onto your nails, let it sit for a couple of minutes, then rinse off.
10. Soften Calluses on Your Hands and Feet
Calluses on your feet and hands can be softened for easier removal by soaking them in a diluted mixture. Leave them in for about 5 to 10 minutes and then use a pumice stone or firm exfoliating sponge to remove the calluses.
Try to avoid getting the mixture on the surrounding healthy skin.
11. General Sanitizing for Bacteria Prone Items
Great for killing bacteria, making up a mixture of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water can be used for sanitizing toothbrushes, combs, razors, and more.
12. Yeast infection in Dogs’ Ears*
As a strong antiseptic, hydrogen peroxide effectively kills yeast but must be diluted first before applying. Veterinarians are in disagreement over whether to use hydrogen peroxide in the ears as it may kill the bacteria present the remaining water after the chemical reaction has occurred isn’t good for them if it can’t be easily gotten out. Dog ears are perfect dark, damp areas already, which leads to infections in the first place, so consult with your vet before trying it.
13. Get Rid of Bacteria on Your Feet
Use hydrogen peroxide to clean off the bacteria on your feet that can cause foot odor. An even mix of water and hydrogen peroxide can be used as a spray or in a bowl to soak your feet. Be sure to rinse your feet off, and don’t let them soak too long. Hydrogen peroxide on healthy skin cells should be avoided but is a quick way to eliminate strong foot odor. Also, a quick spray of the mixture into your shoes may help as well, though be careful of the potential for discoloration of the interior fabric.
14. Tools for Manicures, Pedicures, and Body Care
Using tweezers, clippers, eyelash curlers, and razors in close proximity to your skin on a frequent basis can allow bacteria to form and transfer onto you. To sanitize these items, wipe them down with a 3% solution to help prevent infections and kill the bacteria.
Makeup brushes come in contact with a lot of skin bacteria and should be regularly disinfected. Use a spray if diluted hydrogen peroxide on the brush and let it dry.
15. Contact Lens Cleaning
Some cleaning solutions for contact lenses use hydrogen peroxide as the base for their solution and more effective cleaners than non-hydrogen peroxide-based solutions. They are typically used with special cases to hold the solution and lenses with tablets that cause a chemical reaction to neutralize the irritants that would make putting in your lenses the next time unpleasant. So while they are a more effective option, make sure to follow the directions!
16. Cleaning Dental Equipment
Anything that you use to clean, straighten, or maintain your teeth should be regularly sanitized. Soaking them in some hydrogen peroxide will get rid of bacteria. Be sure to always rinse with plain water afterward.
Around The House
Oxidizing your clothes will help with deodorizing and removing stains and can be done with hydrogen peroxide mixed into your load in the water. For darker clothes, always perform a color-fast test first.
18. Whiten Clothes
Adding hydrogen peroxide to your laundry can also help brighten white clothing; just add a cup to your load of laundry.
19. Remove Sweat Stains and Brighten Discolored Areas
Sweat stains on clothing can be a pain to remove and leave a discolored area visible, especially in white or light-colored clothing. A solution of one-part dishwashing liquid and two parts hydrogen peroxide applied to the stain and left to sit for an hour and then washed in cold water can help get rid of them.
20. Removing Organic Stains
Blood, coffee, and wine set in fast and are difficult to remove. Spray the area with hydrogen peroxide as soon as possible but be careful with dark colors as it may lighten them.
21. Freshening Up Lace and Linen
Lace is very fragile and can be difficult to clean as it must be hand washed. Lace and linen that may have become yellowed with age can benefit from a soak in cold water with about two cups of hydrogen peroxide mixed in for about an hour.
22. Keep Your Fruits and Vegetables Fresh Longer
Help keep your vegetables and fruits fresher for longer by spraying them with a little hydrogen peroxide but always be sure to rinse them before eating. It is also very useful in removing any dirt, bacteria, or pesticides right when you bring them home. A little spritz can add a few days before they start to get soft.
23. Get Rid of Baked On Food
A paste made of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can be used to scrub up pots and pans that have baked-on, hard to remove food and stains. Leave it to sit for a while if needed. Once the chemical reaction has occurred, all that is left is plain water, so it is safe to be on your hands if you don’t want to use dishwashing gloves.
24. Brighten Discolored Dishware
Getting of stains on dishes, pots, and pans can be done with the baking soda and peroxide paste as well.
25. Disinfect Kitchen Sponges
Kitchen sponges are a common place for bacteria to grow, sometimes resulting in an unpleasant sour smell. You can sanitize your sponges by soaking them in a bowl of one-part hydrogen peroxide and one part warm water for about 10 minutes, then let them dry.
26. Cutting Boards & Food Prep Areas
Wiping down counters, sinks, and cutting boards can give food prep areas a good quick clean.
27. Clean Up Your Refrigerator
Wipe down your refrigerator’s drawers, shelves, and racks to get rid of any lingering odors, bacteria, or mold that may be growing. Once it breaks down after being exposed to light and air, it leaves no harmful residue.
28. Insulated Bags and Coolers
Wiping these items down with a diluted solution can help with mildew, bacteria, and gives them a good cleaning at the same time without leaving any harmful chemicals behind.
29. Get Rid of Mold and Mildew
Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria and gets rid of mold and mildew that grows in bathrooms and basements. Mix up a diluted solution and use a spray bottle or mop and bucket for large areas.
30. Spruce Up Your Flooring
Mop your floors with a solution of ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and hot water to clean, brighten, and return your floors to a fresher look.
31. Lunch Boxes, Food Storage Containers, and Sealable Bags
Lunch boxes can develop a smell after many uses holding chilled food as the evaporation of ice packs, or condensation gets into the lining. A wipe down of the inside with hydrogen peroxide can get rid of bacteria, mildew, and will freshen up the smell. Sealable bags and plastic food storage containers can also benefit from a quick wipe down to remove lingering odors.
32. Cleaning and Whitening Your Dishwasher
Spray hydrogen peroxide directly into the interior walls and racks, let it sit, then wipe it out with clean water and a rag. You can also run a short cycle on an empty machine to make sure it has all been removed.
33. Keep Your Fish Tanks Clean of Bacteria and Fungus
When cleaning your tank, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide mixed in will help control the fungus that may be growing as well as bacteria. It should be used sparingly if fish are present in the tank. Still, the oxygen released during the reaction process can actually be a boost, particularly if algae is being removed.
You can also put your aquarium plants into a mixture of 2-3ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water to help them with algae, bacteria, and parasites. Submerge them for no more than 5 minutes. (Particularly effective against the pervasive black beard algae)
For help with removing large areas of algae in outdoor ponds, a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide can be used, but strict guidelines should be followed as well as all safety information.
34. Boost the Health of Your Fish
As hydrogen peroxide decomposes, when exposed to a particular catalyst like air or light, it separates into plain water and an extra molecule of oxygen. These extra molecules can provide extra oxygen to small fish. The chemical reaction itself will also remove microbes that can affect the health of freshwater fish.
35. Brighten Up Tile Grout
Over time your grout can get dirt ground into it, or liquids may get sullied, causing discoloration. To clean it and brighten your grout, you can make a paste with baking soda and scrub with a brush for smaller patches or pour the hydrogen peroxide directly onto grout in larger areas and let it sit, then rinse off with plain water. The best part of hydrogen peroxide is that once it begins to break down after use, it leaves no harmful residue and becomes plain water.
36. Put a Shine on Your Mirrors
Leave a streak-free shine on mirrors and windows with a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide. It uses no harsh chemicals and has no residue.
Tip: Old-school newspaper is still one of the best things to use, but if you don’t have any newspaper, a microfiber rag works best. Newspaper is made from recycled paper turned into a mulch multiple times, so the scratchiness of regular paper is pretty well gone.
37. Get Rid of Dust Mites in Your Mattress
Your mattress should be aired out each day to help prevent dust mites from multiplying in your bed and to help disinfect it, a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide and essential oils in water can be used to spray the surface, getting rid of dust mites, bacteria, and leaving a pleasant smell behind.
38. Cleaning Kids’ Items and Pet Toys
Hydrogen peroxide is a great option to use on toys and in kid-safe spaces as it won’t leave behind any chemical residue. Wiping or spraying down areas where kids and pets play with a diluted mixture will leave the area clean and fresh.
39. Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Bathroom
Clean your toilet bowl by pouring about a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the bowl and let it work for a little while. Once the fizz stops, use a toilet brush to scrub it down.
40. Sanitize Your Humidifier and Dehumidifier
Bacteria, mold, or mildew that may grow inside your machines can be taken care of by spraying them down with hydrogen peroxide.
Guidelines for CPAP breathing machines will give approved methods of cleaning the tunes and water reservoirs. You can use hydrogen peroxide in a diluted mix with water as a good option for disinfecting the equipment as well as the face mask. The face mask, in particular, comes into contact with both skin bacteria on your face, but it is also exposed to bacteria from your mouth and should therefore be wiped down after each use if possible.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide Outdoors
The reservoirs in hydroponic systems should be regularly cleaned. One option is to use fresh distilled water, for best results, and add 2-3 teaspoons of the 3% solution per gallon of water in the reservoir. Be extremely careful with amounts and, if possible, check your local hydroponics store for charts and measurements that may help. A carefully added amount can result in healthier plants with improved growth and yield.
42. Help Your Garden Grow
Adding hydrogen peroxide to your garden can improve growth and help get rid of pests. Add one teaspoon to one cup of water and spray. The extra oxygen that comes from it in the soil can also help plants absorb more nutrients.
43. Protecting Your Plants from Disease
Mix a solution of one tablespoon hydrogen peroxide per cup of water and add into the soil around your plants to defend against root rot and fungal infections.
44. Give Oxygen to Growing Mushrooms
Adding a few drops of the 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide to your mushroom crop can help get rid of mold infections and add oxygen.
Whenever you are using the 35% solution, be assured to follow all safety guidelines, and wear appropriate protective gear.
45. Skunk Smell
The smell of skunk is one of the most difficult to remove. Make a mixture as outlined below and apply it to the affected person or animal, being careful not to leave it on too long on hair or fur to avoid lightening the color.
- 1 Quart Hydrogen Peroxide
- 1 Tsp of Dish Soap
- 2 Quarts of Warm Water
- ¼ Cup of Baking Soda
46. Enrich Your Plant Seeds
Adding a few drops to the soil around your seedlings can provide a little additional oxygen helping them to take root. Spraying your seedlings while still in their pots will add a little moisture and oxygen to them, and once they can be planted in the ground, a little extra of one ounce per quart of water will help the root systems establish themselves.
47. Plant Health
When a pathogen attacks a plant, one of the first things it will do is produce hydrogen peroxide to strengthen the cell walls and create a barrier to prevent the pathogen from spreading. For this, you don’t need to do anything. It’s just an added bonus plants have figured out on their own!
Other Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide
48. What’s in a Glow Stick?
For something a little more fun, the glow stick gets it’s signature “glow” from a chemical reaction. They are made with two containers, an outer flexible plastic case and a fragile glass case inside. The chemicals in the outer case are a base catalyst and a suitable dye; when the container is bent, the inner glass container breaks, mixing it’s chemical in with the others, causing the “glow.” The inner glass container is filled with – hydrogen peroxide!
Glow sticks are frequently used for fun at parties, concerts, and outdoor events at night. However, they are also used for search and rescue operations, as emergency light during power outages, and are especially useful underwater.
49. Water Purification
A solution with low concentration can be used to disinfect water that has been contaminated with pathogens. High concentrations can be used with UV light to decontaminate water that has been polluted with industrial waste. Ongoing research into this field could have enormous implications for purifying large amounts of water.
Water. Researchers are actively investigating whether hydrogen peroxide could be a solution for getting purified water to remote areas of the world. Potable water is necessary for any community to thrive and yet attempts to bring in purifying equipment or chemicals have been extremely cost-prohibitive. Tests are being done now to alleviate that cost by turning contaminated water into hydrogen peroxide, then allowing the normal chemical reaction to take place, which would both purify and turn it back into plain water.
Hydrogen Peroxide In Outer space
50. Rocket Fuel
No, really. Concentrated hydrogen peroxide has been used as a propellant in rocket fuel. Also referred to as “High-Test Peroxide,” it is a reactive oxygen species that can be used as a propellant. The 90% concentration is remarkably stable and has been used by the Russian space force for the past few decades.
While not impossible to obtain, it is a little difficult and requires specific containment measures similar to storing gasoline or kerosene. While hydrogen peroxide is not flammable, the extreme oxidation can cause extreme burns on the skin. It does not ignite like the fuels the US space program uses to create the force necessary to lift a rocket. Instead, it is put in contact with a catalyst like silver to create an explosion of force and pressure.
Stunt cars, modified motorcycles, and jet pack experiments prefer to use the heavily concentrated hydrogen peroxide to fuel their propulsion systems as it is stable, will not catch on fire, and only leaves water as a residue.
Hydrogen peroxide is just water with some extra oxygen molecules attached, which makes it very unstable. It wants to get rid of those extra molecules as soon as possible, so it tends to react with a wide array of catalysts. Light, air, and heat alone are enough to make it revert just by themselves. So be sure to properly store your bottle and enjoy trying out a few of its benefits.