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17 Hydrogen Peroxide Uses You Never Knew About

Keep a bottle in every room of your house to whiten teeth, clean mirrors, prevent stains, and more.

Someone pouring a capful of mouthwash.iStock/tab1962

Use hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse

Some hydrogen peroxide uses aren’t intuitive, but they still work! Hydrogen peroxide is a common active ingredient in many mouthwashes, according to the American Dental Association. Save money on mouthwash by mixing equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water and swish it around your mouth. Bonus: It’ll help naturally whiten your teeth in the process.

A cup of toothbrushes.iStock/seb_ra

Disinfect toothbrushes and dental appliances

Dental hygiene is one of the most effective hydrogen peroxide uses. Though toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or after you have a cold, you may not always have time to run to the drugstore to buy a new one. In the meantime, soak your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide to kill the germs. One study published in Contemporary Clinical Dentistry found that it’s far more effective than rinsing the toothbrush with water. It works for retainers and mouth guards, too. (Be sure to check out the best electric toothbrushes, according to dentists.)

People cutting and washing vegetables for a salad.iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Clean your fruit and veggies

If you’re looking for an alternative to expensive fruit and vegetable washes, spritz a little food-grade hydrogen peroxide on them instead to help clean bacteria away. (The FDA says it’s safe!) Rinse thoroughly before consuming.

A soapy sponge in the kitchen sink.iStock/kittijaroon

Clean your grubby sponges

Have some funky sponges in the kitchen or bathroom? The many uses for hydrogen peroxide can also help you get rid of their dirty appearance and weird smell. It’s considered one of the safest disinfectant products out there. Soak sponges in equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water, then rinse thoroughly. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to toss it. After all, it ranks among everyday items dirtier than a toilet seat.

Handwashing fabric.iStock/SuwanPhoto

Get out that stubborn bloodstain

Most hydrogen peroxide uses involve brightening or bleaching an object, which makes sense, because the chemical compound is a kind of bleach. That means it’ll do wonders on stained white fabrics. Pour some directly onto a stain and let it sit, then blot it out and rinse it in cold water. (You can also use these common items that remove blood stains if you don’t have any hydrogen peroxide on hand.)

Perfectly clean, manicured fingernails.iStock/Nadya Lukic

Whiten your nails naturally

Count this as one of the best tricks to get healthy and gorgeous nails. Dana Stern, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, recommends this process: Take three to four tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and combine with 1/2 cup of water. Let it soak for two to three minutes, then gently scrub your nails before rinsing with water. Repeat two to three times per week.

Cleaning shelves inside a refrigerator.iStock/AndrewRafalsky

Clean your fridge and dishwasher

Hydrogen peroxide’s disinfecting powers aren’t limited to toothbrushes and sponges. Spritz it in an empty dishwasher or cleaned-out fridge. After letting it sit for a while, you’ll be able to wipe the mess cleanly away. (Don’t miss these cleaning myths you need to stop believing.)

Clean, pedicured toenails.iStock/robertprzybysz

Get softer, cleaner feet

Fungus thrives in warm, moist places—like your feet. But a one-to-one ratio of hydrogen peroxide and water added to a soaking bowl should help you avoid it. “Hydrogen peroxide can ‘fight off’ foot fungus due to its properties to dry out the skin,” says Alan Bass, DPM, a podiatrist in Manalapan, New Jersey and a spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association. Bonus: Soaking your feet may also soften any calluses too. Check out these homemade foot scrubs that pamper your feet.

Billowy white bed sheets.iStock/heatherelli

Whiten your clothes without bleach

Just like with bloodstains, hydrogen peroxide can be used as a general bleach for whites in your wash. Instead of bleach, add half a cup to your wash cycle. (Don’t miss the wonders laundry stripping can do for your loads.)

Mist from a humidifier.iStock/yocamon

Get rid of mildew in your humidifier

A moldy, mildewy humidifier helps no one. That’s why the Mayo Clinic recommends cleaning it every three days. Start with soap and water and then disinfect it with a hydrogen peroxide and water solution. (Here’s how to choose the best humidifier for your space.)

Man's shirt shows underarm sweat.iStock/AndreyPopov

Remove sweat stains

One part dishwashing liquid and two parts hydrogen peroxide applied to the sweat stain for about an hour should do the trick; scrub with baking soda if it’s a particularly tough stain. Now that the stains are out, here’s how to get that sweat smell out of your clothes.

Woman cleaning a mirror.iStock/De niss

Get streak-free mirrors

Spray the hydrogen peroxide onto a paper towel and then wipe down your mirrors for a streak-free, disinfected, and clean finish.

Clean dishes, glasses, and utensils in a dishwasher.iStock/j_markow

Add it to your dishwasher or dish soap

For an antibacterial boost, add a drop or two to your dishwasher or your regular dish soap. But whatever you do, never put these things in the dishwasher.

Young boy playing with toys.iStock/PeopleImages

Clean your kids’ toys

Instead of buying fancy wipes, just spray your kids’ toys with hydrogen peroxide. It’s non-toxic, making it safer for you and your child.

Bathtub with shower curtain.iStock/Lokibaho

Get rid of shower curtain grime

If you can’t put your shower curtain in the washing machine, use hydrogen peroxide to wipe it down instead. A study published in the Journal of Infection Prevention found that hydrogen peroxide eliminated germs on contaminated hospital curtains—and they’ve got to be grosser than the one hanging in your bathroom! Just make sure you don’t make these bathroom cleaning mistakes in the process.

Closeup of a mattress.iStock/Liza McCorkle

Banish dust mites from your mattress

Dust mites are almost inevitable, but they don’t have to build up. Spray hydrogen peroxide on your bare mattress to rid it of any invisible critters. Next, find out the household vinegar uses you never knew about.

Medically reviewed by Michael Spertus, MD, on August 16, 2019
Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest