Ahead, a dozen reasons to stock up on this handy supply.
As you may remember from chemistry class, hydrogen peroxide is water with an extra oxygen atom—hence the chemical distinction H₂O₂. While no longer recommended as a wound disinfectant (because it slows healing time), hydrogen peroxide has potent antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and bleaching properties. In its common three percent solution, available online in any drugstore starting at about $4.50 per 32 ounces, it’s strong enough to cut through most organic stains and mild rust! Using it will save you time and money on commercial cleaners while posing no hazard to your health and the environment, so read on to discover a dozen dynamite uses for nature’s best all-purpose cleaner.
1. De-gunk tile and grout.
Hydrogen peroxide mixed with sodium is known as oxygen bleach. Add water and the compound releases an oxygen molecule to help it lift mold and stains from the surface of natural materials. For a potent homemade grout and tile cleaner, mix ½ cup of baking soda with ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide in a sealable container. Add a teaspoon of liquid dish soap, close the lid, and shake until fully combined. Wearing protective gloves, apply to tile and grout, let sit for at least five minutes, then rinse clean with water.
2. Freshen up your bed.
To really rest easy, deep clean your mattresses about every six months. Strip the linens and padding and vacuum the mattress itself. For any stained spots caused by organic materials, such as food, drinks, bodily fluids, and even crayons, create a mild solution of half water and half hydrogen peroxide. Using a clean, soft toothbrush, work this liquid into the stain, give it five minutes of dwell time, and repeat if needed. Once stains have faded, use a hairdryer to evaporate any excess moisture before making the bed.
3. Brighten up the bathtub.
Mold and grime in the shower and tub are gross! But many commercial tub and tile cleaners include such chemicals as bleach, ammonia, and artificial fragrances that can be harmful to respiratory health, caustic to skin, and generally bad for the environment. For a safer solution, make a paste of 2/3 baking soda to 1/3 hydrogen peroxide. Apply to tub and shower area, wait for 30 minutes, then rinse. Follow with a spritz of half-and-half vinegar and water solution to dissolve any residue and soap scum.
4. Refinish metal items.
Want an instant antique? Bring a vintage-looking patina to any metal that contains iron or an iron alloy (like steel), which rust naturally when exposed to water and oxygen. For just the right aged finish on metal hinges and fixtures, first remove any paint and sand the surface. Spray white vinegar and wait five minutes to begin the corrosion process. Next, mix two cups of three percent hydrogen peroxide, four tablespoons white vinegar, and 1½ teaspoons of table salt in a large bottle. Shake thoroughly, then soak the metal surface. Rust should start forming immediately. Always work in a well-ventilated area, as fumes will be released. (Get full step-by-step instructions here for the best results.)
5. Get rid of rust.
While hydrogen peroxide can speed the rusting process, it can also remove rust if you follow these easy steps. In a bowl, place equal parts cream of tartar (a mild powdery acid used in baking and available at grocery stores) and baking soda. Add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide, just enough to form a paste. Rub paste onto rusty objects, wait an hour, then wash with water. This method works best for light to moderately rusted items like tools and toys. It’s also useful for orange stains in your sink or tub caused by rust in your tap water.
6. Sanitize your cutting boards.
Wooden cutting boards can develop small cuts in the surface that trap unhealthy bacteria. But unlike plastic, wood is porous and will warp and even crack in the heat of the dishwasher. To clean and disinfect it safely, spray with white vinegar, wait five minutes, then wipe. Next, pour three percent hydrogen peroxide over the entire cutting board, distributing evenly with a clean sponge; let dwell for five to 10 minutes. Then sprinkle salt over the surface and rub it into the wood grain gently with half a lemon (this will soak up any remaining odors). Allow the lemony salt to soak into the wooden surface for at least 10 minutes or overnight, wipe with damp cloth, and air dry. For the best results, buff the wood using food-grade almond or walnut oil, and wait six hours before use. (Get further instruction on how to clean a wooden cutting board here.)
7. Banish germs from the toilet bowl.
Keep your toilet free of bacteria and looking its best with a weekly dose of hydrogen peroxide. Simply pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into your toilets, let sit for 30 minutes, then scrub with a toilet brush. Though potent, this treatment will do no harm to water systems. To freshen the brush, pour a little extra hydrogen peroxide onto the bristles and allow to air dry before placing it back in the holder.
8. Give your plants a treat.
A mild hydrogen peroxide spray can be your plants’ best friend. The extra oxygen atom in H₂O₂ benefits the growth process and can also treat a number of conditions, including pests, root rot, and fungus. However, if over-applied, hydrogen peroxide can damage plants and beneficial organisms; test a small amount of the solutions prescribed below on leaves or soil first, before spraying larger areas. Discontinue if you see effects like wilting or excess dryness.
• For houseplants, mix one tablespoon of three percent hydrogen peroxide and one cup of water in a spray bottle and soak the soil with the solution once or twice a week (making soil dries out completely before a second treatment). You should see improvement of root rot after one to two treatments, while pests should lessen their destructive activities within a week.
• To reduce mites, aphids, and fungus in your garden, mix ½ cup of three percent hydrogen peroxide and a gallon of water in a large sprayer. When spraying foliage, be sure to soak not just the tops but also the undersides of leaves where pests can hide. A milder solution of one tablespoon hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water can reduce toxins and acidity in soil.
9. Wipe away water marks on granite.
Pesky water marks appear all too easily on granite countertops, but a little hydrogen peroxide will banish them in a flash. In a small bowl, place half a cup of baking soda and mix in a few drops of three percent hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Spread over the stained area, let sit for five to 10 minutes, and wipe clean with a damp cloth. For tougher water stains, cover the mixture with plastic wrap and tape down the edges. Let sit overnight, then wash clean and dry with a soft towel.
10. Erase stains on marble.
Knowing how to clean stains from marble countertops is a must to maintain your high-end surfaces. If the stain is organic in nature (food stains are typically pinkish-brown when dry), mix a cup of 12 percent hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of ammonia in a spray bottle. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated space (employ the exhaust fan over your stove or open the windows), and wear gloves and eye goggles. Spray this mixture onto the stain, let sit for a minute or two, then wipe clean with a towel or chamois. Repeat until the stain disappears, then rinse well with water and dry with a clean towel.
11. Get rid of skunk stink.
Had a run-in with a stinky varmint? Hydrogen peroxide to the rescue! To deodorize clothing, mix one part three percent hydrogen peroxide with six parts water (don’t go any stronger, as hydrogen peroxide can damage textile fibers). Soak your clothing in this solution for an hour or two, rinse thoroughly with cold water, then wash in your machine on a cold setting. If you or your pet has been sprayed by a skunk, combine a quart of three percent hydrogen peroxide, half a cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent. Using a rag, rub yourself or your pet down (avoiding eyes and sensitive areas). When the odor lessens, rinse with clean water, preferably outside, to remove as much of the mixture and odor as possible before entering your home again.
12. Freshen up lawn furniture.
Clean gunk and grime from outdoor furniture without harsh chemicals or power washing. Pour a gallon of warm water into a large sprayer. Add ¼ cup three percent hydrogen peroxide, a few drops of dish soap, and a scoop of borax (a sodium-based mineral powder). Spray metal chairs and tables with the solution and let it work for 10 to 15 minutes. Scrub with a soft nylon brush or sponge and then rinse with a hose.
A Multipurpose Cleaner
Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on hand to clean all corners of the house.
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