The Most Powerful House Cleaner is hydrogen peroxide

Toxic cleaners tout the ability to keep us safe from 'bad germs' and natural cleaners tell us they can do the same job without additional toxins. Recently I discovered that hydrogen peroxide has been proven the most effective cleaner. Really!?

Annie Pryor has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from The Ohio State University. After a few years working in a research lab, She "retired" to be a stay-at-home mom. When her first baby got a terrible stomach virus that required a trip to the ER, she decided to research the subject and created this website dedicated to reducing the prevalence of the stomach "flu" in the world. 

Hydrogen Peroxide is a natural disinfectant, stain remover, and safe alternative to bleach. All you have to do is get a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and add a spray nozzle to the top. Or, if you’re lucky, you can find a bottle with a spray nozzle already attached and then just buy the large bottles and keep refilling your spray bottle.

Use hydrogen peroxide for green cleaning around your home.

Natural Disinfectant

It’s a great natural disinfectant, so I’ll use it to spray down my counters, especially after cooking raw meat, to disinfect my bathroom, really important during the cold and flu season, and to safely clean and disinfect my kids’ toys, especially after they’ve been sick or with baby toys that go in their mouth a lot.

How Effective is Hydrogen Peroxide as a cleaner?

Annie Pryour has her research and results are posted in full at her website: http://www.stopthestomachflu.com/Home/which-cleaning-products-kill-germs-the-best#TOC-About-the-Scientist

Here's a sample of some of her results: 


After doing some of these kitchen sink experiments, people asked me if I really NEED to use 30 sprays of hydrogen peroxide and what happens if you spray and then immediately wipe. So, I compared a 1 minute wash of the sink with a cotton washcloth and just water to spraying the sink with 10 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide followed immediately by a 1 minute scrub with a cotton washcloth. 




As you can see in both of these experiments, spraying with 10 sprays of hydrogen peroxide and then immediately wiping was NOT nearly as effective as letting the hydrogen peroxide sit. I was very surprised. I guess most of the hydrogen peroxide was absorbed into the already wet washcloth. 


Then I decided to compare spraying one side of the sink with 30 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide and the other side with just 10 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide. I let them sit for 5 minutes and swabbed.



As you can see, the 10 sprays did just as well as the 30 sprays. However, the hydrogen peroxide will only kill the germs where it touches. So, the sink (or whatever you are cleaning) needs to be fully covered. When I swab the sink, I am essentially spreading the hydrogen peroxide around. So, if there was a spot that was missed when I sprayed, it would possibly get covered with hydrogen peroxide when I move the swab. So, to sum up, 3% hydrogen peroxide is my favorite disinfectant for the kitchen sink. Use plenty to cover the sink and then don't wipe it off, just let it sit.

How long is a bottle of hydrogen peroxide good and are the stabilizers dangerous? 

Hydrogen peroxide is relatively unstable. So, it is not a good idea to use really old bottles of hydrogen peroxide. However, the 3% hydrogen peroxide sold at the store (which I use) is STABILIZED. They have added something to it to make it more stable. I've ask the hydrogen peroxide companies what this "stabilizer" is but they won't give me any information.  I hope and assume that the stabilizer isn't too bad since the product is approved for use directly on wounds and as a mouth rinse. I have tested an open bottle of hydrogen peroxide after 1 month and it was still good. I just opened it and used a little a few times during the month. The lid was on tightly the entire time. It certainly wouldn't be a good idea to leave the lid off all day. You can see the results in the next section because I did those experiments together. If you aren't finishing your bottle of hydrogen peroxide in 1 month, you clearly aren't wiping off your toilets often enough.


Is 3% hydrogen peroxide dangerous?

3% hydrogen peroxide is not sold to be a cleaning product. The bottle says that it is for wound cleaning or mouthwash. I was hoping that since it is okay to put on wounds and in your mouth, that cleaning with it wouldn't harm you. However, it is a very strong germ killer, and I would not recommend assuming that it is harmless. Yes, hydrogen peroxide eventually turns to oxygen and water but before that it produces the hydroxyl free radical which is what does the damage to the germs. The hydroxyl free radical can also damage you. I would not put it on cuts or in your mouth unless your doctor or dentist tells you that you really need to use it for an infection. Do not drink it. Do not spray it in your nose. Try not to breath the vapors. I wear gloves when I'm cleaning with it because it is very drying to the skin.  A website viewer wrote to me and is certain that at age 24, she completely and permanently lost her sense of smell after using hydrogen peroxide to clean for 1 month. I'm not sure if she was using a normal amount or really coated her entire house.  I spray off my toilets every day with 3% hydrogen peroxide. I clean the bathroom countertops with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a week. I spray out the bathtub with hydrogen peroxide once a week. I spray out the kitchen sink with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a week after raw chicken was in there. I still have a good sense of smell. However, I am not a medical doctor. Feel free to ask your doctor if it is safe to clean with hydrogen peroxide.  3% hydrogen peroxide can fade countertops and wood or dark floors over time. 

And Can Essential Oils be added to Hydrogen Peroxide for cleaning?

Many essential oil fans have asked me if a drop of essential oils can be added to the bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to make their cleaning smell better. I decided to test it along with the test of how long a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide is good. I put about 3 drops of Thieves oil into a new bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide. I also put about 3 drops of lavender oil into another new bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide. I also opened a new bottle of hydrogen peroxide, used a little, and put the lid back on. I let these bottles sit for about a month. 

Then I did the same experiment that I always do. I made germ water with dirt from the back yard and bacteria scraped from a previous days "dirty hands" plate. I put 1mL of germ water onto each square on my countertop. I rubbed the germ water all around the squares and let them dry. Then I added .5 mL of each product onto the appropriate square. I spread them around to completely cover the square and set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I swabbed each square and rubbed the swabs onto an agar plate. The plates were incubated for 24 hours in my warm incubator. 



As you can see, the 1 month old bottles of hydrogen peroxide all did great! The addition of the Thieves and Lavender did not appear to hurt the ability of the hydrogen peroxide to kill germs.


I had also done this experiment a month earlier comparing pure 3 % hydrogen peroxide, 3% hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of Thieves oil, and pure Young Living Thieves oil (.5mL of each thing). In this case, the Thieves had only been in the hydrogen peroxide for 18 hours before the experiment. As you can see, the hydrogen peroxide still killed bacteria well even with the Thieves added. 

It is important to remember that I kept the caps on tightly the entire time the hydrogen peroxide was stored. So, it might not be good if you leave the cap off all day. I make it a point not to tell people to "mix chemicals". I don't know for sure that no crazy or harmful reaction is taking place between some component of the essential oil and the hydrogen peroxide. However, I didn't die breathing them, and they all still smelled good after a month. So, you can make your own decision about that. 



How does the scientist clean? 

Before I did these experiments, I used Clorox Clean-up with bleach and Lysol Disinfectant Spray every day. The fumes were terrible! I had never in my life owned or seen a need for a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. After doing these experiments, I have learned how awesome hydrogen peroxide is at killing germs! So now I do a lot of my daily cleaning with regular 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. I use one of the wonderful smelling products that I've tested like the Better Life Cleaner or the Thieves cleaner to wipe up dirt, grease, and grime from the kitchen countertops. Then I use the 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfect. I don't use hydrogen peroxide on my countertops every day, just a few times a week and after dealing with raw meat.


I like 3% hydrogen peroxide because it produces no odor, does a great job killing bacteria, and is inexpensive. After I clean a bathroom with chlorine bleach, I think I'm going to die from the horrible fumes. Cleaning with 3% hydrogen peroxide does not bother me at all. 3% hydrogen peroxide is not sold to be a cleaning product. The bottle says that it is for wound cleaning or mouthwash. I am hoping that since it is okay to put on wounds and in your mouth, that cleaning with it won't harm you. However, it is a very strong oxidizing agent, and I would not recommend assuming that it is harmless. Yes, hydrogen peroxide eventually turns to oxygen and water, but before that it produces the hydroxyl free radical which is what does the damage to the germs. The hydroxyl free radical can also damage you.  It also contains some sort of "stabilizer" chemical, and I don't know what that is or if that is dangerous. I would hope, since hydrogen peroxide is advertised to be used as mouthwash, that the stabilizer won't hurt us. But you never know. I usually use the inexpensive brown spray bottles of 3% hydrogen peroxide from the bandage aisle at Walmart.

Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and shouldn't be exposed to light so keep it in the brown bottle it comes in. You can put a sprayer on top. I clean the bathroom countertops with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a week. I spray out the bathtub with hydrogen peroxide once a week. I spray out the kitchen sink with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a week after raw chicken was in there. I have been doing this for 2 years and still have a great sense of smell.

However, I am not a medical doctor. Feel free to ask your doctor if it is safe to clean with hydrogen peroxide. 

Since hydrogen peroxide is not advertised to be used as a cleaner, I don't know what surfaces, it is safe to use it on. I don't know if it can be used on your granite countertop. 3% hydrogen peroxide has faded my gray countertop right around my kitchen sink. I think that is because the spray sits there for hours when I spray out my sink. However, it is amazing that there are no faded spots on my big island countertop that I do all of these experiments on. So, leaving the hydrogen peroxide sit for 5 minutes on the countertop does not fade mine. It has also faded the wood floor around my toilet, which I spray off every day. Some of the spray lands on the floor, and I never wiped it off.  I've used hydrogen peroxide to disinfect my wood floor after the dog threw up on it. Letting it sit on my wood floor for 5 minutes did not fade the floor at all. It seems that hydrogen peroxide is more likely to fade an area after repeated use and sitting for a long time until it is dry. I have never had it bleach my carpet or clothing. However, my father is certain hydrogen peroxide made a white spot on one of his cotton knit polo shirts. So, do be careful with it.  


I cannot guarantee that hydrogen peroxide will kill ALL bad bacteria and viruses. There are probably plenty of germs that the 3% hydrogen peroxide won't kill.  Here is a research paper stating that 3% hydrogen peroxide is good for killing salmonella and e.coli. However, other research shows that it is NOT good for killing norovirus. (That is why I recommend keeping chlorine bleach or the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide products on hand for emergencies when someone is throwing up. Those products have been tested and proven to kill norovirus surrogates.) 


Find ALL her research, results and more articles about germ killing at her site: stopthestomachflu.com

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