5 Things You Should Never Do with Hydrogen Peroxide

published Apr 18, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn
She really should have gloves on here!

Fact: Hydrogen peroxide is the key to getting your discolored baking sheets looking like new again. It’ll also help you brighten your white kitchen linens, clean your oven (inside and out!), whiten your grout, and more. It’s probably one of the most underrated cleaners of all time. But, as always, there are a few things to watch out for.

While its uses around the house are varied and effective, perhaps the most surprising thing about hydrogen peroxide is that we should be re-thinking our original use for it. Keep reading for more on that and other things you should never do with hydrogen peroxide.

1. Don’t use it to clean deep cuts.

Hydrogen peroxide is a staple of many medicine cabinets and first aid kits. And lots of us use it to clean cuts and scrapes and appreciate that it stings less than rubbing alcohol. But some experts have stopped recommending it because it’s been found to actually harm the healthy cells around the cut and delay healing. The best way to clean wounds: Rinse thoroughly with water that has enough pressure to dislodge dirt and debris.

2. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide without wearing gloves.

It’s easy to assume that because hydrogen peroxide is nontoxic it can’t hurt you. This isn’t the case: It can burn skin and even turn fingertips white! (This is especially true if your hydrogen peroxide is higher than the 3 percent solution that’s usually used in home applications.) Take care that hydrogen peroxide doesn’t splash into your eyes, and wear gloves when you use it to clean.

Credit: Cat Meschia
Do NOT mix vinegar with hydrogen peroxide.

3. Don’t mix it with vinegar.

Mixing hydrogen peroxide with vinegar creates peracetic acid, a corrosive acid that can harm the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. While it’s okay to use the two in succession on a surface, don’t ever mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar in the same bottle. 

4. Do not ingest it.

There’s some misinformation among certain alternative health groups about the supposed health benefits of ingesting high-concentration, food-grade hydrogen peroxide. But do not drink hydrogen peroxide. Even at the 3 percent concentration, it can cause blistering in the mouth, vomiting, and abdominal distress. 

5. Don’t use it if it doesn’t fizz when you start cleaning.

Ever wonder why hydrogen peroxide comes in that dark brown bottle? It’s because it breaks down into plain water when it’s exposed to heat, light, and air. The resulting decomposition isn’t harmful, but it also won’t be effective if your solution doesn’t fizz when you go to use it. Note: Store your bottle in a cool, dark place and it should be good for about six months once you’ve opened it.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: 5 Things You Should Never Do with Hydrogen Peroxide