A Healthy Disinfectant – Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar


Preparation: Get two spray bottles, put distilled white vinegar in one. Put the spray head of the other into the brown bottle of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide that you find at most grocery stores. Store the Hydrogen Peroxide in a dark place.

To disinfect a surface, do the following:

  1. Wipe down the surface to remove any food particles.
  2. Spray distilled white vinegar on the surface.
  3. Spray hydrogen peroxide on the surface.
  4. Let them sit for several minutes before wiping them off.


Bleach is the “gold standard” in disinfectants. It is inexpensive and it has the broadest antimicrobial spectrum of any household disinfectant. However, bleach is also one of the most harmful disinfectants to human health and has been linked to respiratory problems and birth defects[1].

Vinegar can be used as a safer bleach alternative for some applications, like cleaning. It is also biodegradable. However, vinegar is not a registered disinfectant and does not kill dangerous bacteria like staphylococcus.

Hydrogen peroxide has antimicrobial ingredients and can be an effective household cleaner. It is also highly biodegradable. However, concentrated hydrogen peroxide is extremely dangerous and should only be used as a disinfectant at concentrations lower than 3 percent. Many people buy 30% food grade hydrogen peroxide by the gallon to use in hot tubs in place of chlorine. If you do, dilute it down to 3% for disinfecting. The mist from concentrated hydrogen peroxide could be dangerous to your health.

Alone, neither of these are very effective as a disinfectant. But together they are. A study done at the University of Nebraska found that, when we use both vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, they have a synergistic effect as a disinfectant. One of the researchers in the study, Susan, Sumner said “If the acetic acid got rid of 100 organisms, the hydrogen peroxide would get rid of 10,000, and the two together would get rid of 100,000”[2]. A key to the effectiveness is time. You must let the liquid sit for several minutes to disinfect. The study found this combination was safe to wash produce, but rinse it to remove the vinegar taste. Hydrogen peroxide decays into water and oxygen.

However, the two substances must be kept separate until sprayed on the surface to be disinfected. If you combine both in one bottle you end up with a highly unstable substance.




[1] https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/chlorine_tech.htm

[2] “CONTROL OF ENTERIC PATHOGENIC BACTERIA ON FRESH PRODUCE”, D. L Peters,* S. Sumner, J. A. Albrecht and L. B. Bullerman, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0919