Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide as Disinfectants

March 6, 2012 at 8:13 pm 6 comments

The room where food is prepared, stored and often enjoyed requires constant vigilance. Splatters, spills and errant crumbs can build up and collect out of sight, encouraging harmful bacteria. You can make your kitchen a cleaner, safer place and fight bacteria, without exposing yourself and your family to toxic chemicals that also damage the environment. You can use a simple safe disinfecting spray that is more effective than any of the commercial cleaners in killing bacteria. As a bonus, it is inexpensive!

Susan Sumner, a food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, worked out the recipe for just such a sanitizing combo. All you need is three percent hydrogen peroxide, the same strength available at the drug store for gargling or disinfecting wounds, and plain white or apple cider vinegar, and a pair of brand new clean sprayers, like the kind you use to dampen laundry before ironing. If you’re cleaning vegetables or fruit, just spritz them well first with both the vinegar and the hydrogen peroxide, and then rinse them off under running water.

It doesn’t matter which you use first – you can spray with the vinegar then the hydrogen peroxide, or with the hydrogen peroxide followed by the vinegar. You won’t get any lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and neither is toxic to you if a small amount remains on the produce. As a bonus: The paired sprays work exceptionally well in sanitizing counters and other food preparation surfaces — including wood cutting boards. In tests run at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, pairing the two mists killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces when used in this fashion, making this spray combination more effective at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaner.


Never mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together in one container. The resulting chemical, peracetic acid, can harm you when mixed together this way if you accidentally create a strong concentration in this fashion. Peracetic acid also has entirely different characteristics and properties than either hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. Additionally, we don’t know if peracetic acid kills the same group of pathogenic food-borne bacteria when used this way as a spray – it very well may not.

Reference note: Articles on Dr. Sumner’s original research work appeared in the scientific news journal, “Science News,” in the issues that were published on August 29, 1996, and on August 8, 1998.

Entry filed under: Home and Health, Natural Cleaning. Tags: , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gerri  |  June 26, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    What would this do to a septic field? Not sure what I can use.

  • 3. Anita Chow  |  June 18, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Can this combo be used for granite work tops?

    • 4. smartklean  |  June 19, 2012 at 12:25 am

      Hi Anita,

      It should be fine, they’re both clear liquids. In any case, just to be safe, do a small spot test 🙂

  • […] Q&A: Can you please summarize thisVinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide as Disinfectants […]

  • 6. smartkleankw  |  March 7, 2012 at 2:35 am

    It’s so nice to know that are alternatives to harmful chemical sprays. Thanks Smartklean.


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