What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Regardless of where you’re from, you’ve possibly heard about hydrogen peroxide. It’s a product that has been touted for its multiple purposes and effectiveness when used in particular circumstances. However, it’s possible that you haven’t gotten the complete picture of this versatile chemical. Additionally, as the list of uses is updated, some practices are no longer considered safe while other benefits have come to light.

With that in mind, this article will provide an in-depth look at the properties, common uses, possible benefits, and potential dangers of hydrogen peroxide. Once you have all the pertinent information, you’ll be able to use the product responsibly.

General Characterization of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is comprised of the elements, hydrogen and oxygen. It is given the molecular formula of H2O2. When categorized, hydrogen peroxide is commonly referred to as an Inorganic Peroxide. Since hydrogen peroxide is often used for industrial purposes, it has also been given the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number of 7722-84-1. This assigned number makes it easily identifiable regardless of its application.

Interestingly, hydrogen peroxide is also known by other names depending on how or where it is being used. For example, the chemical is also known as Hydroperoxide, Oxydol, Perhydrol, and Superoxol. Some manufacturers may also have a brand name attached to the hydrogen peroxide they produce.

Physical Characteristics of Hydrogen Peroxide

While most persons are used to hydrogen peroxide in its liquid form, it is also available as a solid. This solid is crystalline in nature and is stable at low temperatures. In some cases, the solution can be produced by dissolving this solid to the desired concentration.

In its pure liquid form, hydrogen peroxide is syrupy and clear. When diluted, the liquid is not as thick. The liquid is colorless and can contain between 20 to 60 % hydrogen peroxide. In both forms, the chemical exudes a sharp odor that is irritating to the eyes. If you have to use hydrogen peroxide in the mouth, the taste will be acidic and bitter.

Hydrogen peroxide has a high density of molecular association and intermolecular hydrogen bonds. The chemical also has low boiling points of 423º K (149.85º C) at 670 mm pressure and 358º K (84.85º C) at 68 mm pressure. Solid hydrogen peroxide melts at 272º K (-1.15º C).

Chemical Properties of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide dissolves well in water, alcohol, and ether. It is insoluble in petroleum ether. While concentrated forms of hydrogen peroxide will be soluble in organic solvents such as carboxylic esters, most organic solvents will cause the chemical to break down into water and Oxygen.

In terms of stability, hydrogen peroxide decomposes easily to water and dioxygen when heated or allowed to stand for long periods of time. For this reason, manufacturers must take reasonable measures to ensure the stability of the hydrogen peroxide they have produced.

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent and has the potential to bleach certain media. This bleaching action occurs because of the oxygen that is liberated as hydrogen peroxide decomposes.

Even in its most concentrated form of 90% hydrogen peroxide, the chemical has a pH of 5.1. This value puts it in the category of a weak acid but hydrogen peroxide is still fairly corrosive in nature. Depending on the grade or concentration of the hydrogen peroxide being used, there are specific safety guidelines that need to be followed. These guidelines will be detailed in a subsequent section.

Pharmacological Properties of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is most popularly regarded for its use as an antibacterial or antiviral agent. The chemical is an effective antimicrobial because of its oxidative properties. As a powerful oxidizing agent, the peroxide’s biocidal effect on many microorganisms is owed to its production of free radicals. These free radicals cause oxidative damage to the membrane lipids and proteins.

This biocidal action has been shown to affect most microorganisms including bacterial spores and protozoal cysts. By causing that level of oxidative damage to microbial cells, hydrogen peroxide may be effective for deactivating and destroying the pathogens that cause infectious diseases.

How Hydrogen Peroxide is Manufactured

There are several chemical processes through which hydrogen peroxide can be manufactured. The method employed will depend on the final use of the hydrogen peroxide that is produced. For example, the process for manufacturing the chemical for industrial use will be different from what is used in a chemical laboratory. Some of the manufacturing methods will be detailed below.

  1. The Anthroquinone Process

    This multi-step process begins with the reaction between hydrogen and 2-alkyl-9,10-anthraquinones in the presence of a catalyst. This reaction produces the respective hydroquinones. Before moving on to the second stage, the catalyst must be removed. If that is not done, the hydrogen peroxide will decompose.

    In the second step, the hydroquinones are oxidized with oxygen or air to produce quinones. During the production of these quinones, hydrogen peroxide is also formed through the reaction of gaseous hydrogen and oxygen. For the final step, the hydrogen peroxide produced will be extracted using water. This process enables manufacturers to have more control over the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide they produce.

  2. From Barium Peroxide

    In this process, barium peroxide can be reacted with either dilute sulfuric acid or phosphoric acid. For the reaction with dilute sulphuric acid, the hydrated barium peroxide is made into a paste using ice-cold water. The paste is then slowly added to an ice-cold solution of 20% sulfuric acid. The reaction will produce hydrogen peroxide, water, and barium sulfate. Barium sulphate will appear as a white precipitate, which is easily removed through filtration. The hydrogen peroxide produced from this reaction is very dilute and only has a concentration of 5%.

    The reaction of barium peroxide with phosphoric acid is considered to be a more successful one in terms of its yield. It also produces a more stable hydrogen peroxide solution. In this reaction, the combination of barium peroxide and phosphoric acid produces hydrogen peroxide, water, and barium phosphate. The barium sulfate is an insoluble precipitate and is easily removed through filtration. While the result of this reaction is still a hydrogen peroxide solution, it is more concentrated and stable than the process that uses dilute sulfuric acid.

  3. Electrolysis

    There are two different compounds that can be electrolysed to yield hydrogen peroxide. In the first instance, a cold equimolar solution of sulfuric acid and ammonium sulfate is placed in an electrolytic cell. Platinum is used as the anode while graphite is used as the cathode. At the anode, low-boiling hydrogen peroxide is distilled over along with water. The other product is sulfuric acid, which has a higher boiling point and can be collected easily to be re-used.

    In the second instance, a potassium bisulphate solution is electrolyzed to produce a persulfate radical. The radical is then heated and hydrolyzed in an evaporator. At that step, the manufacturer will remove water as well as hydrogen peroxide gases.

  4. A Keggin-type Reaction

    This process is highly effective for producing hydrogen peroxide directly from hydrogen and oxygen. It does not require the presence of an acid or any halide derivatives. Instead, the elements are reacted in the presence of a Keggin-type polyoxometalate-supported palladium catalyst under atmospheric conditions.

How to Concentrate Hydrogen Peroxide

While there are multiple ways to manufacture hydrogen peroxide, the resulting product is usually very dilute. The concentrations that are available, however, tend to be fairly standard. As such, it’s important that manufacturers are able to convert the hydrogen peroxide that they have produced into the various solutions their customers expect. Since hydrogen peroxide breaks down when heated, manufacturers must adopt a specialized process to concentrate it. The steps in this process are:

  • Water Bath Evaporation

    This is a slow process in which the dilute hydrogen peroxide solution is placed in an evaporating dish and carefully heated on a water bath. Over time, water molecules will evaporate to yield a 50% solution. If this is the desired concentration, there is no need for the subsequent steps.

  • Vacuum Desiccator Evaporation

    To concentrate the 50% hydrogen peroxide solution further, it is placed in a vacuum desiccator over concentrated sulfuric acid. In this drying environment, the water from the solution is absorbed by the sulfuric acid. At the end of this step, the hydrogen peroxide will have a concentration of 90%.

  • Reduced Pressure Distillation

    In this distillation process, the 90% hydrogen peroxide solution from the previous step is distilled at a reduced pressure between 10 – 15 mm. The water in the solution will distil over between 303 – 313º K (29.85 – 39.85º C). The hydrogen peroxide solution that is left behind will have a concentration of 99%.

  • Water Removal

    This last step will be used to remove the small remnants of water that still remains in the 99% hydrogen peroxide solution. The solution is placed in a freezing mixture of ether and solid carbon dioxide to cool. The end result of this process is pure hydrogen peroxide crystals. When these crystals are melted, the manufacturer will obtain pure liquid hydrogen peroxide. Alternatively, the crystals can be used to produce varying concentrations of hydrogen peroxide solution. For example, a 30% hydrogen peroxide solution would have 30g of the solid in 100g of the solution.

Different Grades of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is available in different grades based on its concentration. If you’ve bought hydrogen peroxide off the shelf at the supermarket or pharmacy, then you would have received the household or pharmaceutical grade solution. This grade of hydrogen peroxide generally has a concentration of 3%.

A higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide can be found in cosmetic bleaching products such as hair bleach. These products can have between 6 – 12% hydrogen peroxide. While this is relatively dilute, careful handling and care are recommended.

Scientific grade hydrogen peroxide has a concentration of 30%. This type of solution is used in chemical laboratories to conduct scientific experiments.

Electric grade hydrogen peroxide solutions have a concentration between 30 and 35%. These solutions are used to clean electronic equipment.

At the next level is food grade hydrogen peroxide. This solution typically has a percentage up to 35%. Though it’s categorized as food-grade, this does not translate to being safe for ingestion in its undiluted form. The use of hydrogen peroxide at this concentration requires careful handling and there are specific instructions given for its use.

Technical grade hydrogen peroxide solutions also have a concentration of 35%. The main difference between the food and technical grade solutions is the inclusion of stabilizers. The actual stabilizer used will vary from one manufacturer to another but a few of the chemicals used include phenol, sodium stannate, and tetrasodium phosphate. Depending on the application, some stabilizers may not be safe for food and so they are left out of the food-grade hydrogen peroxide solutions.

Finally, any hydrogen peroxide solutions above 35% are considered industrial grade. The solutions available can go as high as 90%. These concentrated solutions have distinctive applications that will be detailed in a further section of this article.

Some companies provide additional concentrations of hydrogen peroxide solutions based on the needs of particular industries or customers.

The Stability and Shelf Life of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide’s overall stability depends on how it is stored. The chemical’s stability is typically influenced by these three factors:

1. Light Exposure – Hydrogen peroxide is significantly affected by exposure to light. That is why the solutions are usually sold in brown or opaque white bottles. The chemical is protected while in its original container so it’s not recommended that you try to store a portion of it anywhere else.

2. Temperature – Another factor that influences the degradation of hydrogen peroxide solutions is the storage temperature. It has been found that the higher the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the solution, the lower the recommended storage temperature is. Therefore, while household grade hydrogen peroxide solutions can be kept at room temperature, industrial-grade solutions are typically held at much lower temperatures.

Technically, it’s possible to extend the shelf life of hydrogen peroxide solutions by storing them at low temperatures. However, it should be noted that the extension might be small and it doesn’t completely stop the degradation.

3. pH – It has been found that making the pH of hydrogen peroxide solutions slightly more acidic can slow down the degradation to a certain extent. To do this, manufacturers can add stabilizers and pH adjusters to the solution. The adjustment has only been effective with solutions that have low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, though. That means only solutions below a concentration of 35% are likely to contain them.

One lesser discussed factor that can affect the stability of hydrogen peroxide solutions is the introduction of other chemicals. That includes water and oxygen from the air. It’s highly recommended that you keep the solution in its original container and reseal it as best as possible after opening.

It’s important to note that even in when stored under the correct conditions, hydrogen peroxide will still degrade at a steady rate. The rate at which the solution degrades is directly proportional to the concentration of hydrogen peroxide it contains.

For example, it has been determined that household grade hydrogen peroxide solutions that have a concentration of 3% usually degrade by 0.5% each year, if left unopened. The same unopened bottle of a 7.5% hydrogen peroxide solution would also be expected to break down by 0.5% each year. Food grade and industrial grade hydrogen peroxide solutions, on the other hand, would degrade more quickly because of the much higher concentrations.

The rate of degradation has a direct influence on the shelf life hydrogen peroxide solutions. Since the chemical breaks down more quickly at higher concentrations, the shelf life is assigned accordingly. Hydrogen peroxide solutions with concentrations below 10% typically have a shelf life of three years while solutions with higher concentrations are generally given a year.

Those given shelf life numbers are, of course, based on storing the solution at the correct temperature and location in the original, unopened container. Once the container has been opened, the hydrogen peroxide solution will degrade much faster. This increase occurs because the oxygen in the air speeds up the rate of decomposition. Again, the rate of degradation increases the higher the concentration of the solution is.

Hydrogen peroxide solutions with concentrations between 3 and 10% can be effective up to six months after being opened. In contrast, solutions with concentrations at 35% and above are usually only effective for 30 – 45 days after being opened.

When hydrogen peroxide has reached its expiration date, it will no longer be effective. As mentioned in a previous section, hydrogen peroxide breaks down in oxygen and water. The oxygen will easily escape from the container as it is no longer tightly sealed. Once the chemical has expired, only the water will remain in the container. That means it will no longer be effective for the use you have in mind.

If you’re not sure how long your hydrogen peroxide has been open, there are ways to check on its efficacy. For household grade hydrogen peroxide, you can pour a little in the sink and watch for the quick formation of bubbles. That’s the solution giving off oxygen as it degrades in the air. If nothing happens or the bubbles are slow in forming, your solution is expired and should be discarded. Generally, it’s safe to dispose of this type of expired hydrogen peroxide down your household drain. To be on the safe side, you can wash it down with copious amounts of water.

At the industrial level, it’s best to undertake a more accurate measurement to determine the efficacy of the hydrogen peroxide solution in question. By using the appropriate chemical analysis, manufacturers will be able to determine the percentage of hydrogen peroxide that is still available. If the concentration is undesirable or the material is deemed to be sufficiently expired, it should be disposed of in the manner detailed in another section of this article.

Given the chemical’s relatively short shelf life at certain concentrations and after being opened, it’s best to buy hydrogen peroxide solutions close to when it’s going to be used and only open the container at the point of use.

Handling Exposure to and Ingestion of Hydrogen Peroxide

Generally, the hydrogen peroxide solutions that are formulated for household use are not toxic and should not generate an adverse response when exposed to skin. If the dilute solution accidentally gets into the eyes, thoroughly washing the area with water will help.

In the case of ingestion, however, a trip to the doctor or emergency room is recommended, especially for children. While ingesting a small quantity of household hydrogen peroxide solution may only cause irritation of the mouth and an upset stomach, larger quantities will need medical intervention.

For more concentrated forms of hydrogen peroxide, the damage to the skin, eyes, or internal organs would be significant. Concentrated hydrogen peroxide will cause burns, severe skin irritation, and serious internal injury. In this case, it’s imperative that the person who has had contact with or ingested the solution have immediate medical attention.

Proper Storage and Handling of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is categorized as hazardous and toxic, especially in its more concentrated forms. It can also produce toxic fumes that will accumulate in confined areas. If not stored properly, hydrogen peroxide can be a health and fire hazard.

If you’ve purchased household hydrogen peroxide, this would have come in an opaque brown bottle. This type of packaging is necessary to protect the solution from light. With this solution, it’s important to store it away from high temperatures and to keep the bottle closed.

Food grade hydrogen peroxide should be handled carefully so as to avoid contact with the skin. You should also ensure that it is stored away from persons who may accidentally ingest the solution. The hydrogen peroxide solution must be stored in its original container and at a cool temperature.

At the industrial level, storage and handling guidelines become stricter because of the high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. It’s recommended that industrial-grade hydrogen peroxide is stored in properly sealed containers in well-ventilated rooms. The containers should be stored away from any materials that could cause a spark or encourage the development of a fire. The containers should never be stored close to a drain or drainage pipe that is connected to a sewer. This restriction ensures that a leaking container will not contaminate the environment.

When containers are opened, they must be resealed properly and have no signs of leaking. If there are any signs of leaking, the container must be changed immediately and the spilled materials cleaned up. All containers must be stored between 2 – 8 °C.

Persons who are handling concentrated hydrogen peroxide must wear the proper protective gear. These gears include the appropriate gloves, goggles, face shields, footwear, protective clothing, and respirators or masks. Persons who are not adequately protected may experience the effects of short or long-term exposure.

Short term effects include corrosion of the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. The long term effects include chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract. In some cases, persons have seen permanent bleaching in their hair.

Proper Disposal of Hydrogen Peroxide

Disposing of hydrogen peroxide properly is important to ensure that persons are protected from damaging effects and the residual chemical does not come in contact with the environment. As may be expected, there are stricter guidelines for disposing of industrial-grade hydrogen peroxide solutions than for the household solutions.

Since the hydrogen peroxide solutions for household use have low concentrations, you can clean up spills easily with absorbent materials and dispose of that material in the regular garbage. If the chemical is being dumped and it isn’t expired, it’s recommended that you dilute it further with water. The very dilute solution can then be disposed of down the drain.

When disposing of an empty industrial-grade hydrogen peroxide solution container, it must be thoroughly washed with water before being thrown away. It’s also recommended that you treat the container with an appropriate solvent that would neutralize any hydrogen peroxide solution that is present.

If there is a spill, specific measures must be taken to keep the hydrogen peroxide from getting into the environment and affecting the ecological table. In a laboratory where the spill may be small, the liquid can be covered with a 1:1:1 mixture by weight of sodium carbonate or calcium carbonate, clay cat litter (bentonite), and sand. Water would then be added to that mixture and everything removed with a plastic scoop. The resulting paste would be treated with cold water and then a solution of sodium metabisulphite so it can be rendered less toxic.

On a large scale, the spill can be contained with the relevant organic solvent and an iner absorbent material like sand. It’s recommended that you contact a licensed professional waste disposal service to transport and dispose of the spilled material.

Regardless of the circumstances leading up to the clean-up and disposal, persons must wear all the protective gear required when dealing with hydrogen peroxide solutions.

Health and Toxicity Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is known to mainly affect the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory organs. The effects of hydrogen peroxide exposure can be seen through redness in the eyes, skin irritation, coughing, nausea, headache, sore throat, dizziness, and shortness of breath. In some cases, persons can develop corneal ulcers.

When it comes to prolonged exposure to concentrated forms of hydrogen peroxide, some long term illnesses have been documented. These illnesses include chronic dermatitis, coronary heart disease, and cataracts. There is, however, no evidence that continued exposure to hydrogen peroxide has a carcinogenic effect.

Industrial Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide

You may be used to using hydrogen peroxide in your home, but its concentrated solutions have applications in several industries. Some of them are shown below.

  1. Metal Industry

    In the metal industry, hydrogen peroxide is combined with sulphuric acid for the chemical polishing and pickling of certain metals. The solution is typically used on metals such as brass, copper, and copper alloys.

  2. Food Manufacturing

    This industry usually uses the food grade hydrogen peroxide solution discussed in a previous section. Hydrogen peroxide solutions are typically used to bleach food ingredients such as flour, gelatin, and fruit. In wine distillation, it is used to neutralize the basic by-products of the process. Hydrogen peroxide solutions are also used to control the viscosity of starch and cellulose derivatives.

  3. Rocket Fuel

    In the aeronautical industry, hydrogen peroxide solutions of 90% and above are used in the propulsion of rockets during travel.

  4. Textile Manufacturing

    Hydrogen peroxide solutions are used for their bleaching properties in the textile industry as well. The chemical is used to bleach feathers, textiles, and fur. In some cases, hydroxide peroxide also has a deodorizing effect.

  5. Chemical Manufacturing

    Whether in a laboratory setting or an industrial scale, hydrogen peroxide is used to manufacture a variety of chemicals. This includes organic and inorganic peroxides, glycerol, acetone, and antichlor. Hydrogen peroxide is also used as a catalyst in analytical chemistry projects designed to detect the presence of trace metals.

    As a reagent, hydrogen peroxide is typically included in reactions such as epoxidation, hydroxylation, oxidation, and reduction.

  6. The Manufacture of Sanitizing Chemicals

    Based on hydrogen peroxide’s antimicrobial properties, it’s often used in the manufacturing of soaps, detergents, and disinfectants. It also has a bleaching effect when used to produce clear cleaning products.

  7. Paper Manufacturing

    The main purpose of hydrogen peroxide solutions in the paper manufacturing industry is as a bleaching agent. It’s used to bleach wood pulp and the paper that is manufactured from it.

  8. Wastewater Treatment

    For the treatment of wastewater, hydrogen peroxide solutions can be used as a substitute for chlorine. Based on its oxidizing properties, the chemical effectively removes organic compounds that are the source of noxious odors.

Medical Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide solutions have a largely antiseptic function and as such have medical applications. Originally, it was allowable to use the solutions on deep wounds, bites, cuts, or sores, but this is no longer the case. This is because hydrogen peroxide has been found to be harmful to the formation of fibroblasts, which are essential cells that help your skin to heal.

You shouldn’t use hydrogen peroxide to treat serious burns or animal bites. It’s also recommended that you avoid using hydrogen peroxide solutions in the eyes where it can cause abrasion of the cornea or over large sections of the skin where it can cause widespread irritation.

Medical professionals also warn against using hydrogen peroxide solutions to treat acne. Despite its ability to work against the bacteria that cause acne, the chemical has been found to cause scarring when used to treat acne.

While having antimicrobial properties, hydrogen peroxide solutions are also corrosive. Even the highly diluted household grade solutions have been shown to irritate skin and exposed tissue. Based on the updated information, hydrogen peroxide solutions are only recommended to clean small cuts, minor burns, or scrapes. When you’re using it, it’s best to clean the area thoroughly before applying a small amount of the solution. This should be done no more than three times per day.

Diluted hydrogen peroxide can also be used as an effective mouth rinse. It can remove mucus and soothe minor irritations caused by issues such as canker sores and gingivitis. In some cases, the chemical has been suggested as an effective teeth whitener. Again, there are limitations on how often you should use hydrogen peroxide in this way. You can gargle with the diluted solution up to four times per day.

Whether treating a cut or using as a rinse, hydrogen peroxide solutions should not be used for more than seven days. Any issues that persist after the seven days must be brought to the attention of a medical professional.

Even when used in the prescribed manner, hydrogen peroxide solutions can have side effects such as skin irritation, redness, or stinging. In some cases, the solution may make an infection worse so inform your doctor if there are any signs of tenderness, redness, inflammation, or pus.

While allergic reactions to hydrogen peroxide solutions are rare, they can occur. As such you should contact your doctor immediately if you notice a rash, itching, swelling, problems breathing, or severe dizziness.

There is limited information available on how hydrogen peroxide solutions may interact with other medications so it’s vital that you detail all other drugs that are being used. This includes topical creams or ointments. If you suspect that you’re experiencing an adverse reaction, contact your doctor immediately.

Personal Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide

The previous section focused on possible medical uses of hydrogen peroxide solutions and this section will look at other ways persons use hydrogen peroxide that are not necessarily endorsed by medical professionals.

While there is no medical or scientific basis for it, some persons use food grade hydrogen peroxide as an alternative treatment option. Typically, they will use a drop or two in a glass of water so they’re using a very dilute form of the solution.

This dilute solution is then used to treat myriad conditions such as diabetes, emphysema, lupus, some forms of cancer, shingles, arthritis, allergies, and more. It must be noted that medical professionals do not endorse or approve of this use of hydrogen peroxide solutions. It could, in fact, make the conditions worse or trigger other adverse reactions.

If you choose to undertake this practice, make sure to store the food grade hydrogen peroxide safely so it isn’t accidentally ingested by someone else. At that concentration, it would cause serious damage and they would need immediate medical attention.

Other personal uses for hydrogen peroxide that are discouraged include bleaching the hair and skin. In both cases, using hydrogen peroxide in this way can be harmful. This is especially true if you’re using the more concentrated solutions. If you’re interested in bleaching your hair or lightening dark spots on the skin, it’s recommended that you consult with the professionals.

It is also inadvisable to use hydrogen peroxide solutions to induce vomiting in pets that you suspect have been poisoned. Hydrogen peroxide is toxic to pets and is itself a poison for them. The safer route is to get your pet to a vet as quickly as possible. If your pet has cuts, wounds, or bites, you should not use hydrogen peroxide on these either as it will likely cause more harm.

When it comes to treating fish tanks with hydrogen peroxide, you’re urged to be cautious as well. The chemical may be effective for treating the build-up algae and general upkeep but some types of ornamental fish such as gourami and suckermouth catfish have an adverse reaction to it. This reaction is likely owing to the rapid degradation that occurs when hydrogen peroxide is added to water.

Other Possible Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide

Apart from its medical and industrial applications, there are other ways in which hydrogen peroxide’s antiseptic and bleaching properties can be put to interesting use. In all cases, you should remember to wear protective gear like gloves and masks when using the chemical, especially if you’re using the more concentrated grades. Since the vapors from hydrogen peroxide can irritate the airways and respiratory tract, make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated.

1. You can use it to clean your kitchen sink, kitchen counters, and dishwasher. These areas in your kitchen are well known to accumulate harmful bacteria and fungi such as mildew. These microorganisms can not only affect your health, but they can also cause unsightly discoloration and off-putting odors.

By using hydrogen peroxide solutions to treat them, you’ll benefit from both the chemical’s antimicrobial and bleaching properties. To make sure the treatment is effective you should thoroughly clean the areas first. Soaking the areas for five to ten minutes before rinsing a 3% solution has been found to be effective.

2. Hydrogen peroxide solutions can extend the shelf life of your vegetables. In many cases, your vegetables spoil or turn brown because of the presence of microorganisms. If you remove dirt or debris and then treat with a dilute 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, you can get rid of these microorganisms.

Delicate vegetables like cabbage and lettuce can be soaked for 20 minutes while tougher ones like carrots and potatoes can be soaked for as many as 30 minutes. After the soak, rinse them well and let them dry before placing them in the refrigerator.

3. You can use it to remove the build-up from your cooking and baking dishes. Over time, your dishes can accumulate oils and debris from use. It’s recommended that you use a combination of baking soda and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to tackle this project. After sprinkling with the baking soda, you can spray on the hydrogen peroxide solution. You can then allow the cooking or baking ware to soak for up to three hours.

4. The chemical works well to sanitize garbage bins. After thoroughly cleaning the garbage bin with soap and water, follow up with a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide. It’s suggested that you use a 1:1 mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide. As the bin dries, the hydrogen peroxide will get rid of any microorganisms that are present. It’s best to let the bin dry in the sun.

5. It can also sanitize your toilets, bathtubs, and showers. Understandably, your bathroom will be home to many different microorganisms. They will be present in your toilet, shower stalls, and bathtubs. You may notice the effect of certain fungi as mildew on the shower tiles and enclosures.

After cleaning the areas, you should soak the toilet with the hydrogen peroxide solution. Shower stalls and bathtubs can be sprayed with the solution. In each case, you should allow a soaking time of 20 – 30 minutes. A mixture of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda is also effective for removing soap scum.

Hydrogen peroxide solutions are also effective for bleaching porcelain so if you have old, yellowed porcelain fixtures you can treat them using a dilute hydrogen peroxide solution.

6. Hydrogen peroxide effectively cleans mirrors and other forms of glass. If you have glass fixtures or mirrors that need to be thoroughly cleaned, a 1:1 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water can be very helpful.

7. You can use hydrogen peroxide solutions to remove stains from your laundry. White clothes that have become dingy can be bleached by using a combination of washing soda and hydrogen peroxide in the wash cycle. When it comes to stains such as blood, grass, and wine stains, dabbing the underside of the fabric with hydrogen peroxide before washing will effectively remove the stain.

8. When gardening, a 1 – 3% hydrogen peroxide solution can encourage the softening of seeds and lead to faster germination. By doing this, your plants will sprout faster and you lessen the odds of having non-germinating seeds in your garden. It’s recommended that you soak the seeds for about 20 minutes before planting them.

9. You can use hydrogen peroxide solutions to treat plants that are suffering from fungal infections. Since plant leaves are usually delicate and will be burnt from the undiluted hydrogen peroxide solution, it’s important to add water. The recommended dilution is four teaspoons to a pint of water. You can then spray the leaves liberally to get rid of fungal infections like the white powdery mold that affects many plants.

10. Hydrogen peroxide solutions are effective for clearing algae from pond water. If you have a small pond, a diluted form of 3% hydrogen peroxide can be used to get rid of the algae in it. Experts suggest using ½ cup of the household grade hydrogen peroxide solution in a 90-gallon pond.

As noted, previously, you should be careful if you have certain ornamental fish in the pond. To keep them healthy, it would be best to keep them separate until the hydrogen peroxide has completely decomposed.

11. If you’re cleaning out your cat’s litter box, hydrogen peroxide solutions can be helpful for deodorizing it. In this case, you’re free to use the undiluted household grade hydrogen peroxide. After cleaning the litter box, you should spray it with the solution. You can let the litter box sit for 15 minutes before rinsing it and allowing it to dry.

12. You can use hydrogen peroxide solutions to sanitize your toothbrush and retainer. Your toothbrush and retainer can be exposed to harmful microorganisms from the bathroom. If you want to sanitize them effectively, you can soak your toothbrush and retainer in a hydrogen peroxide solution. To avoid any adverse effects, make sure to rinse them thoroughly before returning the items to their storage areas.

13. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to sanitize your make-up brushes. After cleaning away the excess make-up, you can soak the bristles for 10 minutes in a bowl of water that contains a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. You should rinse the brushes well before letting them dry.

Some of the possible uses listed above include combining hydrogen peroxide with other materials. Be careful when mixing them as the reactions may be effervescent. Make sure you’re using the exact quantities that are required and remove any other chemicals before applying the hydrogen peroxide mixture.


While this article has provided a comprehensive overview of hydrogen peroxide’s properties, uses, and safe handling guidelines, it’s far from exhaustive. It’s important to read the instructions on the product you have purchased as well as any supporting documents. Those guidelines will contain the information that is most relevant to the grade of hydrogen peroxide that you’re using.

Though some grades are considered to be safer than others, it’s recommended that you always play it safe and treat hydrogen peroxide like the chemical it is. If you’re using it for the first time, take note of any signs of irritation or adverse reactions.

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