Of all the products you’ve probably got stored away in a cabinet, hydrogen peroxide might be the most useful. This household staple is typically a mainstay of any medicine cabinet because of its use in cleaning cuts, but you can find other uses for it in just about every room of the house.
We found some brilliant uses for hydrogen peroxide that experts across the internet swear by in their daily lives. From health to beauty to cleaning to science experiments, here are some ways that stuff in the brown bottle can be used for more than first aid.
Fight Bad Breath
It might not sound all that pleasant but swishing some hydrogen peroxide in your mouth can help fix a number of oral issues, including bad breath. This is because hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria, meaning it can help fight gum disease, which leads to bad breath. A medical study in 2017 found that patients who gargled with it showed significantly fewer signs of gum disease than ones who didn’t. It’s recommended to mix two parts of water with one part of hydrogen peroxide, using only the 3% concentration variety, which is the most common form you’ll find.
Give Metal An Antique Look
Since hydrogen peroxide fights bacteria as an oxidizing agent, it makes sense that it could be used to oxidize metal as well. This means you can use hydrogen peroxide on metals like brass and copper to quickly make them look rusted for a unique, antique look. To achieve something like what you see on the copper plate below, you can simply combine hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar and salt in a spray bottle and apply it, according to the blogger Mountain Modern Life, who used this trick to make some new horseshoes look ancient.
Clean Bug Guts Off Your Car
If you search through online forums of car — and small airplane — enthusiasts, you’ll find many home remedies to cleaning the dead bugs off their rides. One popular one involves dryer sheets but another involves hydrogen peroxide. The chemical apparently eats away at the proteins in the dried-on bug guts, causing them to wipe right off after you’ve sprayed your car with some hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide won’t damage your paint — but the acids found in the dead bugs could, if left stuck on for too long!
Clean Your Car’s Interior
Once you’re done wiping the insect corpses off your ride, you can bring the brown bottle inside the car for more cleaning. You can find plenty of recipes online for a solution that will clean your car’s upholstery — or your home’s carpet — but we liked one from The Frugal Ginger that had impressive photos of how the car looked before and after using it. They recommended a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, dish soap and warm water in a spray bottle. Another blog said hydrogen peroxide is also excellent for cleaning up soda stains.
Get Skunk Off Your Pet
Anyone who has a pet that spends a lot of time outside knows that skunks are simply a nasty fact of life. When your dog or cat gets sprayed by one of these striped creatures, hydrogen peroxide can help knock out that awful odor. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, you can make a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap to quickly wash your pet with if you’re unable to get ahold of a store-bought skunk-fighting shampoo. Just note that the American Kennel Club does not recommend getting hydrogen peroxide in your dog’s ears, so keep it out of there.
Induce Vomiting In Dogs
Another unfortunate fact of life for many dog owners is that they will, inevitably, eat things that could seriously hurt them. If your pup has swallowed something that could be toxic — such as an entire pack of sugar-free gum, in the case of my dog once — you can use hydrogen peroxide to make them throw up. You don’t need to give them much at all to do the trick and it works pretty quickly but always call your veterinarian before trying this. Banfield Pet Hospital recommends carrying hydrogen peroxide in a pet first-aid kit in your car for this exact reason.
Eliminate Armpit Stains
Most people who have worn white undershirts have seen these unattractive yellow stains appear on their armpits. It’s believed that these stains are caused by the aluminum that’s used in many deodorants and how it reacts with the properties of sweat, meaning that, ironically, you’d have a better chance of avoiding them if you didn’t wear deodorant at all. But to remove these pesky stains, just mix two parts hydrogen peroxide with one part dish soap and leave it sitting on the stain for an hour.
Keep Your Pool Clear
If chlorine bothers your skin and you’d prefer a more natural solution to keeping your pool clean and clear, hydrogen peroxide can do the trick. For this trick, you’ll need 35% concentrated food-grade hydrogen peroxide, which is much stronger than the stuff you’ve probably got in your cabinet. According to SF Gate, you need to add a cup of hydrogen peroxide for every 250 gallons of water your pool holds to initially shock the water if you’d been previously using chlorine. After that, you’ll want about a cup of hydrogen peroxide per every 500 gallons of volume for regular care.
Clean A Scorched Pot
If you’ve scorched some of your cookware, or simply burnt food onto the surface of it, hydrogen peroxide can be used for a rescue mission. The blogger at Centsable Momma swears by a method of restoring burnt pots to their former glory by using three items you probably already have handy: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and aluminum foil. She recommends covering the burnt area with baking soda before spraying hydrogen peroxide on it to form a paste. After leaving the paste for several hours, you can scrub it away with some foil!
Clean Your Grout
A paste that involves our favorite substance and some baking soda can also be used to make your tile grout look as good as new. Bob Vila, the home improvement icon himself, recommends a mixture of 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap to clean your grout on the cheap. For especially grimy areas, just let the mixture sit for a few minutes before wiping it away.
Freshen Your Retainer
If you wear a retainer, you know those things can get nasty pretty quickly. Well, hydrogen peroxide can help freshen them up, making it less of a chore to pop into your mouth each day. The blogger at Mom 4 Real recommends a solution of cold water, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and peppermint essential oil to freshen and disinfect a dirty retainer. She says to let the retainer sit in the mixture for about 10 minutes and it will be good as new.
Whiten Your Teeth
Another unexpected oral use for hydrogen peroxide is as a cost-effective way to whiten your teeth at home. In fact, if you look at the ingredients of many whitening toothpastes and gels, you’ll likely see hydrogen peroxide listed among them. While studies have found that a homemade hydrogen peroxide whitening solution doesn’t work quite as well as the more expensive products, it definitely will make your teeth brighter. Healthline recommends making a paste of a small amount of hydrogen peroxide and a few teaspoons of baking soda that you brush across your teeth and leave sitting for a few minutes.
Whiten Your Fingernails
If hydrogen peroxide can whiten your teeth, it would stand to reason that it can brighten up your fingernails as well. That’s exactly what the writers at Marie Claire recommend using to fight yellow stains on your nails that can be left after nail polish is removed. They advise adding a few tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide to a bowl of warm water and letting your nails soak in it for a couple minutes before wiping them off.
If your family has skin sensitivities or you are simply looking for a gentler alternative to bleach, try adding some hydrogen peroxide to your laundry. At Better Homes & Gardens, they recommend pouring some right onto blood stains and other pesky stains before washing. They also say you can add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide to your whites to make them brighter but urge using caution before adding any to a load with darks.
Kill Outdoor Pests
While we love hydrogen peroxide for all the ways it can make our lives easier, bugs aren’t huge fans of it. If pests are wrecking your garden, you can keep them in check by simply spraying some hydrogen peroxide on the soil and the plants themselves, just be sure to use the common, 3% concentration variety. SF Gate recommends spraying the inside of the holes you’ve dug before planting to keep microbial pests at bay.
Disinfect Your Keyboard
You may have heard the disturbing news that your computer’s keyboard is roughly 20,000 times dirtier than the average toilet seat. If you now need a moment to run for the hydrogen peroxide, we understand! You can use that most versatile of all household substances to disinfect your keyboard simply by dabbing a Q-tip or an old toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide and wiping it across the keys and in those small avenues between them. It will also work to de-germ your mouse.
Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Anyone who regularly uses makeup knows that brushes can be expensive and keeping them clean is a pain. (I used to work as a television reporter, so even I know how annoying this is!) A beauty expert on NBC’s “Today” recommends cleaning your brushes weekly with a solution of half water and half hydrogen peroxide. You simply leave the brushes sitting in the mixture for about five minutes before pulling them out to dry.
Remember what we said about aluminum in deodorant causing yellow stains under your arms? You can use hydrogen peroxide as a more natural alternative to deodorant, according to the beauty experts at “Today.” They recommend wiping under your arm with some hydrogen peroxide to kill the bacteria that causes odors under there to begin with. That’s cheaper and likely much more friendly for your body to begin with.
Fix Cracked Heels
If you’ve got hard callouses and cracked heels on your feet, hydrogen peroxide can be used to bring them back to baby softness. You can find various remedies online that involve hydrogen peroxide but the one we liked was from I Save A to Z, who shared some great before and after photos of how the treatment worked. You’ll need to mix 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide and 2 cups of hot water into a bath that you’ll rest your feet in for 30 minutes before using a foot file and some lotion to finish the job. The best part of this is you can watch a TV show while it works!
Clear Your Drains
The bacteria-fighting properties of hydrogen peroxide can work wonders in keeping your drains running smoothly. To clear a clogged drain, you can pour 1 cup of baking soda down there, wait 10 minutes and add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide before adding some hot water to clear it out. To keep your drains from clogging in the first place, Hunker recommends pouring 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide and some boiling water down them every couple weeks.
Clean Your Produce
Who knew that you could use this stuff as a natural way to clean the bacteria and pesticide residue off your fresh produce? The Dallas Morning News says hydrogen peroxide is an excellent agent for rinsing gross stuff off your veggies. Simply combine a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle and apply it to your produce before rinsing and eating. It’s much cheaper than those special produce rinses you can buy at the store!
Supplement Your Dishwasher Detergent
If you’re tired of buying rinse agents, or want a more natural alternative than the blue stuff you typically would buy, bring in the hydrogen peroxide. According to The Thrifty Couple — and many other blogs we checked — you can make a simple mix involving this common substance and add it to your dishwasher for cleaner dishes. That blog recommends a mix of 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide and 10-15 drops of essential oils like lemon or lavender oil that you pour into your dishwasher’s rinse aid compartment.
Lighten Your Hair Color
This secret has been out for a while but it’s still amazing to us that you can use hydrogen peroxide to lighten your hair. You will need to mix it with some baking soda in a paste to naturally make your hair more blonde. Teen Vogue says to mix 1 cup of baking soda with 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide into a paste that you can leave sitting on your hair for 30 to 60 minutes before rinsing it away. Be careful not to leave the paste on your hair for longer than that or it could cause damage!
Brighten Your Bathroom
As you’ve already seen, hydrogen peroxide can work wonders with lightening and brightening things you want to keep white, so it makes sense that you could use it on bathroom fixtures like tubs, sinks and toilets. SF Gate says you can use this handy substance to do things like kill mold, fight mildew and even remove stains from your shower curtain. When combined with other easy-to-find substances like toothpaste, baking soda and plain old water, you can pull off a variety of bathroom cleaners, according to that website’s easy guide.
Make Elephant Toothpaste
If you’re looking for a fun and cool science craft to make with your kids, hydrogen peroxide can do the trick. Elephant toothpaste can be made using a higher concentrated hydrogen peroxide, according to the folks at Green Kid Crafts. Combine it with dish soap, warm water, dry yeast and food coloring inside a 16-ounce soda bottle for an awesome experiment. See a similar concoction in action in this video from @STEMplaylab on Instagram. Just be sure to wear goggles and gloves!