Natural Cleaning – Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide

 Are you tired of getting headaches when you clean your bathroom?  I was.

Do you worry about your baby crawling around on the freshly cleaned floor that still seems to be gassing off Pine-Sol?  I did.

Are you looking for something that you can use on your kitchen counters and not worry about food being contaminated by it?  I was.

I began this journey when my second baby was starting to crawl around on the floors.  (If my #1 ever reads this, I’m sorry buddy, you were my test child and I didn’t know any better.  You got the chemicals.)  I began thinking about what was being left behind on my beautifully clean floors.

It seems that there is a very real danger in a lot of cleaners out there.  Especially ones that end in -sol.  Like Pine-sol and Lysol, for example.  These products contain phenol which is a very toxic derivative of coal tar.  The health hazards that have been presented by pets that have ingested this chemical (from licking their paws or the floor) range from respiratory problems to kidney or liver damage.  It seems that there is much more documentation for animal poisonings but (for me) it stands to reason that if your dog can get sick from your chemically-treated floor, then so can your family.

I started out by buying the “Natural” and “Green” cleaning products from the store.  Some of them worked pretty well but I found that I was still feeling weird from the fumes.  Especially when I cleaned tight places like the bathroom.

And I’m CHEAP!!!  Those store-bought natural cleansers can cost a pretty penny!  So I went searching for a better way.

Would you know that two of the best natural cleaning agents can usually be found in your own home?


Yep, vinegar is a great anti-fungal agent and kills bacteria but alone it’s not a disinfectant.

That’s where hydrogen peroxide comes in.  When these two are paired together, they create a disinfectant that is more powerful than bleach but is perfectly safe for people and animals.

“By itself, vinegar is not a disinfectant, but when used with hydrogen peroxide, it kills bacteria more effectively than any commercial cleaner. Susan Sumner, a food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI) in Blacksburg, Virginia, published the following formula in Science News. Purchase a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and a bottle of plain white or apple cider vinegar. Pour each liquid into its own spray bottle. Spritz the item to be disinfected with both the vinegar and the hydrogen peroxide, then rinse with water. Using one mist right after the other is ten times more effective than usually spray by itself and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one spray bottle. Tests at VPI found the two sprays used together killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces; this spray combination is more effective than chlorine bleach. It doesn’t matter if you spray with the vinegar first, then the hydrogen peroxide, or vice versa. There is no lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and neither is toxic if any reside remains. This combination works exceptionally well for sanitizing counters and other food preparation surfaces, including wood cutting boards.” Natural Home magazine, Jan 2002

Just fill two spray bottles with each of the liquids.  You need to make sure that the hydrogen peroxide has a light-proof opaque bottle.  When hydrogen peroxide is exposed to light it begins degrading and becoming ineffective.  (You can always just buy a product that comes in a dark spray bottle and wash it out very well but if you’d like directions on making your own “light-proof” spray bottle, head over here.)

I’ve been using this cleaning method for over a year now and I’m definitely not looking back.  The cost of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide is far lower than the cost of commercially produced cleansers.  Also, my cleaning supply shelves are a lot less cluttered!  I used to have a different product for everything –  a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen de-greaser, tub and tile, etc, etc.  Each costing $4-$5!  It feels great to be able to pass up that aisle at the grocery store knowing that I only need a handful of household items to clean my whole house.  (I’ll discuss other natural cleaning agents in future posts.)

My bathrooms and counters are sparkling and my “chemical headaches” are gone.  I just spray each bottle and wipe down everything with a cloth.  So easy!  For all the wonderful benefits, my family is willing to overlook the slight vinegar smell for an hour or so!

Here’s a great floor cleaning recipe to get you started:

One 5 gal bucket of hot water

~ 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar

1/4 cup baking soda

A few drops of liquid Dish Soap

  1. This is so wrong. If you spray the two solutions on top of each other it still may create parecitic acid, do you have any evidence that it doesn’t? I.e. have you looked into how fast these chemical reactions take place, because they could take place in 1 millisecond. If you have scientific evidence this is not harmful please describe, otherwise you’re telling people how to create toxic substances when you state you’re trying to do the exact opposite.

    1. Hello Marco,
      Have you looked into this at all? It seems like you’re demanding exact evidence from me to your vague unprecise accusations. (“Could” take place – “May” create peracetic acid.) Nothing that I have researched has ever quantified exactly when the reaction takes place but there’s no ‘may’ about it. Vinegar (acetic acid) combined with hydrogen peroxide ‘will’ create peracetic acid. BUT, peracetic acid is actually registered with the EPA as a disinfectant. Because white vinegar (from the store) contains about 5% acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide is usually 3% peroxide mixed with 97% purified water, it is considered a very low concentration. Marco, this is not something that I’ve made up and am trying to convince people to do. This is something that I have switched to, to try to lessen the number of different chemicals we are exposed to in our household. I’ve been very happy with it over the last 5 years and wanted to share that it’s been working well for us. While I don’t personally know the researchers quoted in the articles and studies that I’ve read, their evidence makes sense to me and they have recommended this method as a feasible option. Feel free to argue with them about their scientific evidence! Here is one of the websites that I’ve liked if you’d like a starting point for your research. There are a few other links from there :

  2. Hi Emily i go to McDonald’s sometimes and have seen them spray with a bottle that has peroxide in it and was wondering if you know what else could be in since it’s not good too mix peroxide with anything else do you have any idea what’s in it?

  3. Hi, my local hospital uses this solution for some surfaces. What I would like to know is cou,d I use this in and on my aquariums, I would think I could, but thought I would ask first. What do you think?

    1. Hi Terri,
      You know, I’m not sure! I have had fish a couple times in my life but have never used this cleaning duo on the aquariums. I know that fish are pretty sensitive to their environment so this might be a better question for those that are well-informed on raising fish/aquatic environments! Good luck – Emily

  4. Hi Emily,
    I’m new to using hydrogen peroxide in the home. I have bought a handy little book that explains the science and gives some cleaning recipes for home and personal care.
    I would like to know instead of apple cider vinegar can ordinary white distilled vinegar be used and is it as effective.
    Thank you.
    Sue (UK)

  5. Hello and thank you for your post. I have also been cleaning with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide for many years. I have a recipe that combines the both, along with water and essential oils. Recently a friend told me that when vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are mixed together it produces a toxic solution. I was wondering if you have heard or read this anywhere. Thanks

    1. The 2 being mixed together can produce paracetic acid which is an unstable molecule in this form and should only be sprayed consecutively.

  6. For those that don’t fancy the strong smell of vinegar, I’ve taken to adding a few drops of Lemongrass and even diluting the vinegar a bit. I don’t mind it but some do.

    1. Hello BiBi,
      No! Do NOT mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one bottle. When the sit combined, they can become peracetic acid, which can be harmful. They are fine kept separately and sprayed one after the other on a surface but not stirred together and sitting in a bottle.

  7. Thanks for the post! I have been using 2 different vinegar solutions 1 for the bathroom and 1 for the kitchen. Its nice to see a solution that I can use all around the house. This will help a lot since my boyfriend keeps mixing up bottles. I have read about the benefits of cleaning with peroxide and wanted to incorporate with my vinegar solution. Thanks again, will be doing this today. Time for some Spring Cleaning!

    1. Great information, Emily! Thank you! Can you tell me if the hydrogen peroxide/vinegar solution is safe for sealed granite countertops? What about UNsealed granite?

  8. In the kitchen, I clean with straight hydrogen peroxide and essential oils. Peppermint, texas cedarwood, oregano and lemon. antibacterial, fungal and viral. smells great and kills a lot.

  9. Dear Emily, Enjoyed your website. Here’s a tip. I can’t stand aerosols in the bathroom. It just mask fumes with hydrocarbons ! Rather and (I have been doing it for three years), I spray full strength white vinegar in the bowl, around the floor behind the tank , a little along the baseboard and the trash can. Also a little in front of the bowl if it smells like someone has missed. With or without a vent fan it works. You will over time regulate how much you spray according to how the room smells. It works great removing any offensive or embarrassing odor. I have even removed spoiled chicken odor from the kitchen immediately. Another suggestion. For the laundry, instead of fabric softner in the rinse, I add a cup of vinegar. Best regards, Dal M.

  10. Emily,
    I came across your website trying to come up with a natural cleaning sanitizer solution, for my natural house cleaning company. The information you provide is easy and fun to read. Your website was the final piece to be able to promote an all natural cleaning to people that want proof that natural cleansers, as simple as they are, are just as good if not better that commercial cleaners. I have hard wood laminate flooring and to get a streak free clean finish. I use 1 part Isopropyl Alcohol, 1 part Vinegar, 1 part Water, a couple drops of Castile Soap and couple drops of Olive oil. This solution gives a nice streak free finish. The olive oil shines the floor and doesn’t leave a residue.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Katie,
      Thank you so much for sharing your recipe for cleaning wood laminate flooring! I’ve had a few people ask me about cleaning laminate and it’s nice to have a definitive answer.

  11. I saw your link on how to make a light-proof bottle for hydrogen peroxide (or mix) and thought your ideas creative. Came across a more time-saving way. Take the pump from an empty cleaner (e.g., windex etc.) or buy a cheap spray bottle, cut the tube down and screw spray top onto the dark bottle that the hydrogen bottle came in. I got the idea from this website:
    I tried it and the spray top works fine on the original bottle that I bought. Best wishes!

  12. Just a word if caution and a little information. The mixture if hydrogen peroxide and vinegar makes sense. Glacial acetic acid and white vinegar are very similar in chemical nature. When mixed with hydrogen peroxide, it becomes an acidic oxidizer. A common sanitizer used in the food industry is peroxyacetic acid. It contains hydrogen peroxide and glacial acetic acid. It is used in place of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) in many applications, and like bleach is an oxidizer and is also, again like sodium hypochlorite, a registered pesticide (because bacteria are pests, right?). But be careful! NEVER mix vinegar, or any acidic product with bleach! The resulting fumes can be deadly in the form of chlorine gas! And always use basic protection, such as rubber gloves. Safety glasses are not a bad idea either. Adequate ventilation is always beat regardless of how “harmless” a mixture is considered. Hope this makes using this mixture a little safer for at least a few.


  13. You know you are just neutralizing some of the baking soda with the vinegar, right? Essentially, you’re creating a water, baking soda, and sodium acetate solution. You’d be better advised to just leave out the vinegar (acid) and let the baking soda (base) do the work of cleaning as it enhances the ability of the soap to emulsify and lyse grease and bacteria.

  14. Do you dilute the vinegar? I currently keep a bottle of 50/50 vinegar & water to clean counters, sinks, etc. (and I actually thought that was kind of strong—that I could have probably diluted even more). I was not aware of the hydrogen peroxide until now and would like to start that also!!
    THANK YOU!!!

    1. Hi Jaymie,
      Actually, I don’t dilute the vinegar. I just put straight vinegar in a spray bottle. The smell doesn’t bother me too much anymore and I find that it dissipates fairly quickly!

    2. Thank you!!! I’ve been using this for quite some time…I don’t mind the smell either! I just thought it may actually need to be diluted more for some reason (that I’m not sure of, lo!!!). But now I think I will start using hydrogen peroxide also!
      And not sure if you have wrote about this…but where my clothes washer says to put fabric softener, I put UNdiluted white vinegar—with nothing else added and it works GREAT!! So much cheaper (I buy by the gallon) and it smells great, not vinegar-y at all 🙂

    1. Hi Jeanine,
      Yes, the vinegar should be fine on Pergo. In fact, I looked up your question on some other sites and a lot of people recommended it. Maybe just do the vinegar and dish soap in the water and leave out the baking soda since it is slightly abrasive.

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