The Truth about Mixing Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar to Make a Disinfectant

People are losing faith in manufactured cleaning products because of the growing dangers of the harsh chemicals involved. Aside from exposing themselves to these chemicals, these cleaning products can also endanger the environment. Because of these, many people are turning into home remedies in an attempt to use more environment-friendly solutions when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting.

The DIY and home remedy cleaning and disinfecting recipes had become more popular because of the recent pandemic when COVID-19 started spreading around the world.

People have been panic buying cleaning and disinfecting products that they are always sold out in stores. This results in the rest looking for other alternatives that they can use at home.

One of these home remedies is the combination of hydrogen peroxide and distilled white vinegar when you clean and disinfect.

Distilled white vinegar as a disinfectant

You can find distilled white vinegar in grocery stores. They usually have a pH of 2-3 and 5% acetic acid.

When 5% of vinegar was tested against some antibiotic-resistant bacteria and common human pathogens, it was ineffective as a home disinfectant.

Another study that used 6% acetic acid found that it is effective enough to eliminate Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It further found that 10% of acetic acid is enough to eliminate resistant mycobacteria. Because of this research, it is assumed that 6% to 10% vinegar may be an effective biocide. For now, research is still ongoing to prove this.

Household vinegar usually contains 4% to 8% acidity. You have to let it sit for at least 10 minutes to work as a disinfectant. The downside of this is that household vinegar usually has a strong smell and could be tough to breathe in. When it comes to its effectiveness, household vinegar can kill off basic microorganisms. When used on its own, it has low cleaning effectiveness.

Hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant

Hydrogen peroxide is known as an environment-friendly alternative to bleach products that use chlorine. It is safer for the environment because it breaks down into oxygen and water.

Store-bought hydrogen peroxide has 3% hydrogen peroxide potency. This is considered a safe and effective strength to be used as a disinfectant when used on inanimate objects. To keep it stable always, store it properly once you open the bottle. Take note that hydrogen peroxide can reduce its potency over time when exposed to light and heat.

The effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide as a disinfective will vary depending on the concentration being used. It is considered as a powerful cleaner and also a safe one to use since it is non-toxic.

Mixing hydrogen peroxide and vinegar

Unfortunately, some people have been spreading information about mixing the two common household items together to form a “super disinfectant.”

So, what happens when you mix acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide together? The result is called peracetic acid. Peracetic acid was first recognized as a disinfectant by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1985.

Peracetic acid is used as a disinfectant in food industries and medical industries. It is also used for water purification. It works best at colder temperatures. Peracetic acid can be used to deactivate various microorganisms, spores, and viruses.

Now you might be wondering why this is a bad thing. If it could be used in food and medical industries, why can’t you use it at home? The thing is – peracetic acid is more corrosive and toxic, especially in high concentrations. It also emits dangerous fumes. Peracetic acid can harm your skin, nose, throat, and lungs if you are not careful.

Because of this, peracetic acid is best used by experts and is not really recommended for household uses.

You should never mix the two liquids together in one bottle. The mixture turns into peracetic acid – an unstable one with questionable potency, and this could be dangerous.

The right way to use the disinfectant powers of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar is to use them as a cleaning “tag team” like they are partners. You do not have to mix them together.

The right way to disinfect with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar

You should know that you must clean the surface first with a good detergent before you disinfect a surface. The presence of dirt and soil can interfere with the germ-killing capabilities of any disinfectant.

Also, make sure that you use distilled white vinegar – not just any vinegar. Some types of vinegar, like balsamic vinegar or apple cider, can damage and stain some surfaces because they are acidic. If you are not sure, test it out on a small area first.

So, here is the right way to disinfect hydrogen peroxide and distilled white vinegar without further ado.

What you need

  • 1 cup 5% acetic distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup 3% solution hydrogen peroxide
  • two spray nozzles/bottles

What to do

  1. Clean the surface you want to disinfect with soap and rinse it out with water. Then, dry the surface by wiping it with a clean, dry cloth.
  2. Fill one spray bottle with distilled white vinegar.
  3. Use a spray nozzle and attach it to the original brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Their bottles are made to fit most spray nozzles. If it does not fit, transfer it to a dark spray bottle since hydrogen peroxide loses its potency when exposed to light. This is precisely why hydrogen peroxide comes in their brown or amber bottles.
  4. Start by spraying the surface with the distilled white vinegar first. The order does not really matter but using the vinegar first means you do not have to deal with the smell of vinegar lingering after disinfection. Let the vinegar sit on the surface for at least 5 minutes before wiping the surface with a clean cloth.
  5. Spray the surface with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for another 5 minutes before wiping the surface with a clean cloth.

Disinfecting surfaces this way gives better results compared to either liquid by itself as a disinfectant.

You may think that spraying the two liquids right after each other is the same as mixing them. This is not true. The chemical reactions in closed containers are very different from the chemical reactions that occur in open air. So, the reaction that happens is two different things.

Safety tips when disinfecting your home

No matter what disinfectant you use or how potent they may be, it is essential to be cautious always and be protected while you clean. Here are some tips to help you be safe when you clean and disinfect in your home:

Clean with soap and water

As mentioned earlier in the article, the presence of dirt and grime on any surface will disrupt any disinfectant’s capability to do its job. To make sure

Wear protective gear

Make use of gloves, masks, and goggles when cleaning. Sometimes, splatters can happen, and you would not want some to land in your skin, face, and eyes. It is also best to put on old clothing so that stains and bleach-containing products will not ruin your good clothes. When using disposable gloves and masks, throw them right away after use – do not re-use them.

Clean in a well-ventilated area

Make sure that when you clean, the room is well-ventilated. Disinfectants have harsh smells and can emit toxic fumes that will make you sick when you inhale them. The same thing should be done when you are preparing your disinfectant solutions.

Seal tightly

Ensure that everything is tightly closed and sealed when not in use so that accidental spills will not happen when you knock over the bottles while cleaning. This is important, especially if you are using different products at the same time as some of these chemicals must never mix.

Store properly

Take the time to read the proper way to store a product so that its potency will remain intact. Most chemical products need to be stored in a cool and dark place. Also, make sure to keep them in an area out of reach of children and pets.

Wash your hands

Wash your hands well after using any disinfectant – even if you were using gloves. Some gloves may easily rip or have holes without you noticing and will bring you to contact with the dirt or chemicals you are using to disinfect.

Last thoughts

When cleaning and disinfecting your home with DIY solutions, make sure you do a good amount of research before diving into the project. Just like the way you should not believe in every “miracle cure,” you should not put your complete faith in every “super detergent.”

Doing proper research and being cautious will help lessen the risk of exposing your family and yourself to toxic chemicals.

Mixing chemicals and liquids may make you feel like a genuine scientist, but it may not be a genius move.

Using distilled white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide when you disinfect is an excellent and budget-friendly idea to keep your surfaces clean and disinfected as long as you do not mix the two liquids together.

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