Dos and don’ts with hydrogen peroxide

02 Jun 2023


There are many uses for hydrogen peroxide in the home. In fact, it is well known as a super cleaner thanks to its effectiveness against household grime and the wide variety of tasks it can be used for.

However, there are just as many things that you should not use hydrogen peroxide for, as they have become outdated and may even be dangerous.

Here we have a look at the dos and don’ts that you should follow when it comes to the use of hydrogen peroxide.

What exactly is hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is a household cleaner which has disinfectant, antiviral and anti-bacterial properties.

Its chemical formula is H2O2 and it is made up of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms.

At room temperature, it is a colourless liquid, which is a powerful oxidising agent.1

Uses for hydrogen peroxide

As well as using hydrogen peroxide for cleaning, it is also used in teeth whitening treatments and in hair lightening processes at the hairdressers.

Is there nothing this chemical can’t do?

Deep clean the toilet

Instead of using bleach, you can use hydrogen peroxide to clean the toilet as the chemical is great at removing micro-organisms such as bacteria, yeast, fungi, viruses and spores.2

Adding a water and hydrogen peroxide solution to your toilet will kill germs as well as brightening the surfaces.

Sanitising your beauty tools

Tools such as tweezers and eyelash curlers come into contact with bacteria whenever they touch your skin.

Dip them in hydrogen peroxide, or wipe them over with the chemical to sanitise the tools and prevent the spread of bacteria.3

Remove armpit stains

How annoying are those yellow-brownish armpit stains that can be found on white t shirts?

No matter how many times you wash them, they just do not seem to come out! They can sometimes appear even when you have only worn the item a couple of times.

Use hydrogen peroxide alongside detergent and soak the stain for an hour before washing the garment in cold water. And there you go – ready to wear!4

Teeth whitening

Lots of over-the-counter teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide and a stronger version is available when you get your teeth whitened at the dentist.

Use teeth whitening products with caution as they can make teeth sensitive and too much use could cause damage to gums.5

It is best to consult your dentist as to the best way to get those pearly whites shining again.

Washing vegetables

You can use hydrogen peroxide mixed with water to clean vegetables and remove bacteria.

On hard skinned vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, leave to soak for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

Bacteria causes vegetables to turn brown and so it is thought that soaking in hydrogen peroxide can help them to last for longer in the fridge.6

Things that you shouldn’t do with hydrogen peroxide

As with all chemicals, there are certain things that you should avoid when it comes to using hydrogen peroxide:

Don’t use hydrogen peroxide to clean cuts

Hydrogen peroxide was often used in the past as an antiseptic on cuts and scrapes and could be found in most first aid kits and bathroom cabinets.

However, experts have stopped recommending it for this use as it is thought that it could harm the healthy cells around the cut and stop it from healing quickly.7

Don’t use hydrogen peroxide without wearing gloves

Hydrogen peroxide can burn the skin and even turn your fingertips white.

Ensure that you wear gloves when you use it to clean and take care not to let any of the chemical splash into your eyes.8

Don’t drink hydrogen peroxide

Drinking hydrogen peroxide has been touted as an alternative health therapy which may help to treat a number of illnesses. However, medical professionals warn against this as it can be dangerous.9

The concentration of household hydrogen peroxide is 3% and swallowing small amounts of this is not usually dangerous, although it can cause foaming at the month.

However, if large amounts are swallowed, it can cause stomach irritation and even burns.10 Higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can be found in hair bleach (6-10%) and food grade hydrogen peroxide at 35%. Ingesting these chemicals can cause tissue burns and internal damage.11

Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar

Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar can be used on the same surface as long as it dries in between applications but they should never be mixed.

When the two are mixed, it creates peracetic acid, which can harm the skin, eyes, throat, nose and lungs.12

Read more in our Home Cleaning section.

Last updated: 19 January 2021

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