We’ve all been there, screaming “noooo!” at the top of our lungs, among other unsaintly things, after splashing summer sangria on our white jeans, or taking a lucky white blouse off a hanger only to see big, yellow pit stains. No need to panic or speed to Target for a big bottle of harsh chemicals. Instead, rely on hydrogen peroxide. That’s right: The brown bottle in your medicine cabinet turns out to be an omega-level stain fighter and disinfectant.
Many eco-friendly cleaning pros use the stuff exclusively on all types of stains and surfaces. It’s natural, non-toxic and earth-friendly, so feel free to spray it all over countertops where you roll out dough, decorate cookies, prep lunch for the family—and (yes, we do this, too!) pile a handful of chips to munch on.
Grab a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. We’re looking for things to clean all over your home.
1. Brighten Grout and Tiles: Raise your hand if the tile areas in your home are looking a little lackluster (ours, too!). Bren Fey, blogger at Bren Did, put 10 grout cleaners to the test and found that a 1:1 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda works best. Mix a cup of hydrogen peroxide with a cup of baking soda, then spoon the paste onto the grout. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, scrub the area with a brush, and rinse off. Restore the whiteness of grout, eliminate mold and mildew from the tile, and de-germ the area without harsh chemicals.
2. Banish Soap Scum: Let’s say you know someone who has neglected scrubbing their bathtub and shower area for weeks. There’s likely a layer of brown muck dissuading everyone who enters the bathroom from bubble baths and long showers. Be a good friend and share these tips. Fey recommends her natural all-purpose cleaner for just this type of tough-to-clean spot. Her simple cleaner consists of 1/4 cup of Castile soap and 3/4 baking soda. Mix and store in glass jar. After spreading the paste onto the area with a damp sponge, she recommends spraying the soiled area with plenty of hydrogen peroxide to pump up the cleaning action. Keep the light-sensitive hydrogen peroxide in the dark bottle it comes in. Standard spray nozzles will fit right into the bottle. Use this concoction in sinks, bathtubs and shower areas. Let the mixture sit for up to 30 minutes, then rinse away.
3. Sanitize Toilet Bowl and Other Surfaces: Michael Dimopoulos, the founder of Lazy Susans Cleaning in New York City (one of Thumbtack’s top local cleaning companies), uses hydrogen peroxide to disinfect and wipe down surfaces in clients’ homes and Airbnb rentals his company is hired to turn around. Spray down toilets, basins, shower areas and tiles with hydrogen peroxide, and let it sit. “Remember, hydrogen peroxide has far better results when sprayed and allowed to work for 15 to 20 minutes,” he says. Wipe it off when it’s done working its magic.
4. Wipe Down All Surfaces: After brushing off all crumbs and debris, spray down the countertops, refrigerators (inside and out) and sink area with hydrogen peroxide. Let sit and wipe. But, Dimopoulos says, avoid using hydrogen peroxide on marble or stone surfaces because its acidity may break down the sealer.
5. Cleanse a Smelly Sponge: Plop your dirty dish sponge into a bowl, then cover with hydrogen peroxide. Let sit for 20 minutes and rinse. Or do this.
6. Disinfect Cutting Boards: After cutting poultry, meat or fish, spray the cutting board with hydrogen peroxide, let sit for a few minutes and wash as normal (in the dishwasher or sink).
7. De-Grime Baking Sheets: Just in time for cookie season (when isn’t it?), we have the solution to cut through the brown crud on most baking sheets. Cover the whole sheet with baking soda, then spray with hydrogen peroxide. Give it a few hours and you’ll see the mixture will have cut through the gunk without much scrubbing. Repeat on the other side of the pan.
8. Brighten Whites: Mark Forman, who oversees employee training at GreenAir Cleaning Systems, and every other professional clean person we contacted for the story, vouches for hydrogen peroxide’s super-whitening powers—like bleach but without the nauseating fumes. Forman says his team adds hydrogen peroxide to each load when laundering microfiber cloths and mop heads. Hydrogen peroxide works wonders on linens and white towels. “Pour 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide in your wash water and soak whites for 30 minutes or up to an hour to bring back to bright whiteness,” Dimopoulos says.
9. Remove Blood Stains: Spray hydrogen peroxide directly onto the blood stain to remove it from light-colored fabric. Let it soak and then wash as usual.
10. Eliminate Yellow Stains: If you (a) have armpits, (b) sweat, and (c) wear white, you probably have experienced the yellowing of a favorite blouse, T-shirt or sundress. A combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and detergent (Castile soap or dish liquid) will get it right out, Fey says. “If you spread that around the ring-around-the-collar or yellowing on fabric, it tends to do a really great job taking that out,” she says. Or you can simply spray hydrogen peroxide directly onto clothing, soaking the stain. “I tend to just spread it or spray it on there and throw it in the washing machine knowing that I’ll do a load of whites later that day.” Works great on grass stains, too!
11. Restore White Carpets: To clean her light beige stair runner rug, Kadi Dulude—owner of deep-cleaning company Wizard of Homes NYC—mists the surface with hydrogen peroxide and wipes it clean with microfiber cloths. For deeper stains, she sprays much more hydrogen peroxide onto them, letting it soak for about 10 minutes before wiping. “The stairs tend to get darker in high-traffic areas and this gets them beautiful and bright without much effort,” Dulude says. “I used to use Resolve Carpet Cleaner before and although the results were exactly same, I hated the strong chemical smell it left behind for days.” Avoid using hydrogen peroxide on dark rugs and be sure to test an area of the carpet first before spraying the whole thing, she says.
12. Wine Stains in Carpet: Don’t fret when a guest spills wine on your light-colored carpet. Remove wine stains by spraying with hydrogen peroxide, letting it soak for 15 to 20 minutes, and then patting dry with a soft cloth or kitchen sponge, Dimopoulos says.
13. Oil Diffuser: Dulude also shared this genius tip: “Every once in a while I use hydrogen peroxide instead of water in my essential oil diffuser to clean the plumbing of the unit that you can’t clean otherwise. This should be done especially if you haven’t used it for a while, just to make sure you clean out the mold and bacteria that may have had time to grow inside the unit.”
14. Disinfect the Workspace: Use hydrogen peroxide to wipe off and disinfect your desk, computer screen, keyboard, mouse and phone.
15. Children’s Toys: Hydrogen peroxide is gentle enough to disinfect your little one’s beloved toys that you can’t toss in the wash.
Now that your home is spotless, we say it’s time to throw a party. If anyone spills, you’ll know how to clean it!