Today: Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubbing Alcohol Dos & Don’ts

Don't mix hydrogen peroxide with alcohol

So today I learned a very practical bit of advice I can give anyone. For my stay-at-home job (the way I survive by the way with my severe allergies and chemical sensitivities), I buy disc-based media and recondition them for sale online. This job is very lucrative, because you can buy stuff that’s in not-so-great condition and make it pretty, then sell it for a “pretty penny.” Here are some very simple and specific tidbits I’ve learned from handling and cleaning valuable items from many different households.

Tip #1: You can use alcohol to clean permanent marker.


I didn’t really know this before I started doing what I do, but I learned this from a clerk at a thrift store. I was complaining that there was a price written on a framed poster, which made the item less desirable/valuable. They instantly told me to just use alcohol to rub it off. Sure enough, when I got home, I applied this knowledge, and it worked like a charm. I have never looked back.

With my sensitivity to chemicals, the ethanol does get a bit smelly, but for some reason it doesn’t bother me as much as it does for other chemically sensitive people. Note that this only works well on glossy surfaces like plastic or glossy paper. This will not work with cloth or matte paper.

Tip #2: Hydrogen peroxide neutralizes a lot of chemical smells.


Even just today, I heard from someone on my favorite EI (environmental illness) forum that peroxide will break down pesticides. I’m not entirely sure if it’s true, but in my experience, it does a whole lot to mitigate some nasty chemical smells I’ve come across.

My main application for hydrogen peroxide has been to wash new fabrics. In fact, it’s a standing rule in my household to immediately run any new clothes in the wash at least twice with generous amounts of peroxide (like 1/8 to 1/2 cup per load). I haven’t quite figured out how much is really needed, but I can usually detect when the sweet smell of acetaldehyde and other disinfectants/detergents/pesticides/dyes has dissipated in the clothes I buy.

In my business, I get a lot of DVDs and video games (in plastic cases) from thrift stores where there is a ton of cheap detergent emanating from the clothing aisles all day long. Though I usually just replace the cases with new ones (which can be equally smelly, and therefore are sequestered to the garage when I’m not packaging up boxes of items to sell), sometimes I need to clean off opened toys or sealed DVDs that smell of strong detergents. For this purpose, hydrogen peroxide does the trick. This also goes for plastic toys I give my baby, and even tupperware from the dollar store. Really, you should wash/remediate anything you buy from the store, in any way you can, because there is an unsettling amount of chemicals that go into production and making new products “ready” for the retail shelf.

I believe the mechanism for hydrogen peroxide’s excellent effect on smelly chemicals is the same as the way ozone purifies indoor/outdoor air (though you should be very careful when using ozone purifiers indoors). That added oxygen molecule (peroxide is H2O2) will bind and “oxidize” any contaminants it comes across. I don’t understand it extremely well, but I do know that peroxide seems to take away the stinky when I need it to.

I also use hydrogen peroxide as my go-to for pretty much any kind of regular cleaning I do on floors, counters, and sinks. I do go ahead and use Seventh Generation or equivalently “safe” products for heavier cleaning (like in the toilet and the tub). But for regular surfaces and day-to-day dirt/stains, I’m always using a spray bottle of H2O2. It has virtually no residual smell, and it’s almost completely inert. Sometimes I even wash my hands with it. I know you’re not supposed to do this, because it supposedly bleaches the skin (which I’ll get into shortly).

Tips #3–15: There’s not much hydrogen peroxide can’t do…


There are crazy amounts of uses for hydrogen peroxide that I can’t even scratch the surface of, but here are some of its uses that I’ve mostly verified:

  • Clean and disinfect wounds
  • Clear acne
  • Canker sores
  • Bad breath
  • Get rid of an ear infection
  • Clear ear wax
  • Clean/whiten your teeth
  • Clean contact lenses
  • Lighten your hair
  • Disinfect things (like toothbrushes)
  • Clean your floors and other surfaces
  • Kill various yeasts/mold (in a not-so-harsh way)
  • Use it in your dishwasher or in handwashing dishes
  • Wash clothes (get chemical smells out)
  • Boost plant growth by soaking seeds in it

There are some other uses that I’m not going to get into and many that I wouldn’t recommend, like ingesting it. If you decide to use it orally or on your body, please remember that your microbiome can be affected with any kind of antibacterial agent, and it should be used in moderation. All of its uses generally involve the same function, based on adding that extra oxygen molecule into the mix. Its three main effects are bleaching, disinfecting, and otherwise oxidizing.

Tip #16: Don’t mix rubbing alcohol with hydrogen peroxide


We finally come to the point. Oftentimes in our business described above, my wife and I combine tips numbers 1 and 2 and use rubbing alcohol to clean permanent marker off of DVD cases, then we end up using Hydrogen Peroxide somewhere else just for normal cleaning (or to get the scent off of the same case). I hadn’t looked it up until just now, but we both experienced a severe bleaching and my wife even a burning effect when we used both of these chemicals with our bare hands. The skin on my forefingers literally turned white, but I didn’t feel the burn like she did. (Maybe a woman thing? 😉

So after some research, I found that there is some discrepancy on whether rubbing alcohol and peroxide react to form anything particularly dangerous. Here is a thread with some chemistry geeks discussing the potential reactions. Feel free to peruse. One rather ominous reply in a Yahoo Answers thread said this:

“What you guys don’t know, mixing Rubbing Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide forms an Unknown Chemical. It is Inactive for a few days, and when you leave it out, it forms an Acid, that can give you really Bad Chemical Burns.”

I have no idea of this guy’s source, but that sounds about exactly like what happened to my wife and I. So, err on the side of caution and don’t mix them. You should have this rule of precaution when mixing any household chemicals. There are just too many things that can go wrong.

Before I go, let me just relate a little experiment I did. I was awoken this morning by my Mom, asking me to help out with throwing the last few things in the dumpster. We threw away some wet stuff, because it had just rained. Some of the moisture dampened the leg on shorts I’d just put on (proper clothing is hard to come by for me these days). Concerned about mold/mildew, I immediately used a cloth dampened with well water and hydrogen peroxide. After about a half hour of it sitting there soaking against my leg, I started to feel a slight burn. So it turns out hydrogen peroxide on its own can start to irritate your skin, I guess mainly if it maintains contact with your skin on some medium. So there ya go!

About Rob 70 Articles
Rob was the valedictorian of his high school (his last claim to fame), but now believes that academics are overrated. He is a musician and former copy editor, and is now studying independently as an amateur nutritionist, businessman, and writer/rocker against world government and for liberty. He is also attempting to obtain a PhD in squats, deadlifts, shoulder raises, rows, bench press, dips, and pull-ups.


  1. Hydrogen will give a “bleach” effect. What happens is that oxygen bubbles get trapped under the top layer of skin and it makes it look white, the burning sensation is probably from the alcohol.

    • Thanks yeah, that makes sense. I do believe there was more of a burning sensation from the combo, because my wife and I never had burning from rubbing alcohol.

      • After Googling for a while, I finally found you who had the same experience! It happened to me too.

        Here is my theory. Usually, household Hydrogen Peroxide is 3% but when mixed with ethanol (75% v./v.), ethanol will evaporate fast with water, which makes the remaining Hydrogen Peroxide much concentrated.

        So your finger was probably burned by concentrated Hydrogen Peroxide.

  2. I had used hydrogen peroxide on the yard with a hose sprayer to help the lawn, but also with the intent of targeting a major snail & slug problem. I mixed some rubbing alcohol to help the H202 permeate any critter’s membranes. It certainly worked. (I did also later apply orange oil, neem oil, molasses, organic fertilizer, etc.) After reflecting, I stumbled across your website.

    I use alcohol often around the house, but shy away from rubbing alcohol because of its toxicity. Typically, I use Everclear or vodka or gin for cleaning or disinfecting. Any type of alcohol easily permeates the skin or tissues. Plus, the fumes are readily inhaled which goes directly into the blood stream.

    Rubbing alcohol usually is derived from the petroleum industry. In itself, it has some toxicity (half an ounce can be toxic to a man). Its chemical structure is completely different than the whisky form of alcohol. In addition, rubbing alcohol is “denatured” to ensure that winos don’t drink it which makes it even more poisonous. Wikipedia has a quick overview of these aspects.
    If I was spraying the food-herb garden, I would had used Everclear or vodka instead of rubbing alcohol mixed with hydrogen peroxide.

    I do want to mention that a person can overdo hydrogen peroxide on sensitive tissues causing bad chemical burns. For oral applications, I try to use a food grade H202 if the budget allows. Food grade is manufactured differently than the drug store peroxide.
    Sidenote: I have close relatives who have been getting IV solutions of food grade hydrogen peroxide. My personal favorite is an ozone IV with having the blood go through a UV light. I have seen some miracles as a result of that combo.

    I admire your take on alternative views! I often follow the Corbett Report.
    Keep up the good fight.

    • Tom! Thanks for your contribution, man. Sounds like a lot of good info about ethanol. I will keep all of that in mind, and definitely never drink it. For one reason or another, using alcohol in my DVD-selling business, I tolerate it quite well.

      You keep up the fight as well! I like Corbett, too. But I’m not an anarchist like him. I just want a nicely drained swamp so we can all MAGA together and live in harmony. Did you read my article about Trump and Monsanto? He hasn’t done it yet, but I’m hoping something will happen on the same line as Putin has taken in Russia, against GMOs and EMFs, among a million other toxic things they’ve been throwing at us. Here’s praying!


  3. My daughter, shes six, had some type of infection on a spot on her head.. It was blistery, pussy and bumpy.. Well first thing i thought was i didnt want it to get worse and go to her brain and infect that.. Lol.. So i go and buy alcohol and peroxide.. Well i ended up cleaning the area with both after the shower.. Next day it looks better…clean the area again.. And gets better.. Well i do my daughters hair all the time and i guess its been 3 weeks later or more and i just notice that she has a little bald spot.. Im thinking where i mixed the 2 solutions.. But why did i barely notice this bald spot now? Is it going to be bald for good? Its very small but i cant stop thinking if i caused it.. And i just happen to look the mixing of these 2 alcohol and peroxide up.. And it can cause a bad reaction.. Can it leave you with no hair? I feel horrible now. And i guess stupid. 🙁

    • I don’t think it will be bald forever (as you probably know by now since I’m responding several months later). I just know that it can have a bit of a reaction, which might explain what fried her hair a bit. But that could also be explained by the infection, which can cause some inflammation that might lead to hair loss. How is it doing now?

    • You seem to genuinely care about your daughter 1st and your ego-as-a-parent 2nd, so you must have simply FORGOTTEN the best way to determine whether the mixture caused the bald spot (permanent or not): DO IT TO YOUR OWN DAMNED SCALP!

  4. Liked the article – will use some of your tips. Quick question — if I am using 91% rubbing alcohol on my arms (for heat rash) is there any danger regarding that level of rubbing alcohol and skin absorption?

    • Thank you, Kim! Rubbing alcohol, in my experience, can be used anywhere. You’re attacking your skin bacteria by doing it, so I wouldn’t do it myself. I prefer to use less antibacterial things on my skin to clean, like castille soap. Really, cold, filtered water is the best thing for heat. Hot water is probably the worst. In fact, every time you wash your hands with warm or hot water, always follow up with cold water, and you will not experience a lot of the discomfort of dry skin and itching (especially in the winter) and you will never have to use lotion or even coconut oil. Try it!

  5. Alcohol nor peroxide should never be used on skin or used with your bare hands. That is the problem not the combination.

  6. Hey rob, whats this environmental/chemical sensitivity you have? I haven’t heard of it before, is it just that you prefer to avoid chemicals because younstrongly dislike the smell, or is it a real medical condition.
    Side note: I remember in my chemistry class we worked with hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol throughout he year. The instructor never explained what the combination created, but she advised never to combine the two chemicals.

  7. Omg! I was rubbing down my stethoscope at work with the Clorox Healthcare Peroxide wipes (no gloves on)-I know shame on me. Later I guess I used alchol foam routinely. Within minutes I began to have an intense burn to my hands and the white chemical burn. I immediately rinsed my hands and scrubbed them…it was a bad feeling.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! For those who questioned this reaction in the comments, here is some more corroborating n=1 experience to refer to.

  8. Just read this and you talked about mixing your well water with the peroxide, and after half an hour had burning. Has your well water been tested? My understanding is that pretty much all water in the country (including well water) has a lot of bad stuff in it now; glyphosate, pharmaceuticals, etc. I’m thinking it well may be that that it wasn’t the left over peroxide that made you burn, but a reaction it had with some chemical you don’t (or didn’t) know about in your well water. At this point, there is no way to know, because I’m sure the composition of your water has changed a lot between then and now, so even if you checked now you wouldn’t be able to tell. But I’m thinking, it was NOT just the peroxide . . . Great article; thanks for the info! I just happened to wonder what would happen if alcohol was mixed with peroxide (I use them both often, but have never mixed). (OK, so now I’m wondering what would happen if you mixed baking soda with vinegar! I’m in a WEIRD mood tonight!)

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Elaine! I’m glad this article was informative to you. Try mixing baking soda with vinegar sometime (in an environment where you can get stuff messy!) and see what happens! Haha, actually the end product of that is just water I believe.

  9. Using H2o2 with well or tap water has a chemical reaction because of the minerals, sediments and no telling what else these days, lol, oxidizes or rusts basically as it would with metals. I use 35% food grade, diluted and occasionally on a drop per 8oz H2o and have cured myself of parasites and illness and brought 2 of my dogs back from near death with great results, although I would recommend using caution and “doing your Utube homework” and always use gloves when dealing with a caustic or acidic substance, have clean water ready to rinse, and always use distilled or reverse osmosis water to avoid any chem reactions. I also like to use garlic (chopped fresh cloves) and salt water for cleaning as it is great disinfectant and child/pet friendly..

    • I’ve done as much YouTube homework as anyone could be expected to do, lol. I don’t think it was the peroxide interacting with the minerals. My wife experienced bleaching and burning without alcohol exposure, just by leaving it on her fingers. It’s pretty hard on your tissues. I wouldn’t drink it, based on all my YouTube homework.

  10. H2O2 breaks down into water and oxygen. Furthermore, it only “damages” unhealthy, keratotic and/or dead cells. These types of cells impede healing, and removing them is often done by surgeons in order to speed wound healing. The procedure is called “surgical wound debridement”, and man is it a horrifying process. Having experienced it firsthand, I can honestly tell you it‘s nothing short of a waking nightmare. On the flip side, 3% hydrogen peroxide is a debridement “agent“ Has clearly stated on the front of the label. It removes non-viable tissue without surgery, and more importantly without any pain whatsoever! It‘s true that it does this via oxidation, which is proof that not all oxidation is inherently “bad”. Likewise, it proves that not all “chemicals” are “toxic”, as hydrogen peroxide is one of them. Much (if not all) of the bad rap hydrogen peroxide has been getting lately has been caused by lack of proper dilution (i.e.: using 35% strength rather than 3% or lower concentrations. There’s a reason you can’t just walk into your local drugstore and buy 35% peroxide – using it safely requires extensive knowledge of its properties.

    in closing, here’s some food for thought (pun intended, of course!): Lately there’s been much talk about the healing powers of honey. Do you happen to know how the sticky-sweet treat accomplishes this miraculous healing? Per, “When honey is diluted by wound exudates, ***hydrogen peroxide*** is produced via a glucose oxidase enzyme reaction. This is released slowly to provide antibacterial activity but ***does not damage tissue***”.

    • Very thorough and interesting look. I didn’t know that about honey. What were you proposing was happening that caused the burn? If it was removing necrotic/dead tissue, why did I feel such a distinct burn?

  11. Hello


    – 100% safe for your site
    – real visitors with unique IPs. No bots, proxies, or datacenters
    – visitors from Search Engine (by keyword)
    – visitors from Social Media Sites (referrals)
    – visitors from any country you want (USA/UK/CA/EU…)
    – very low bounce rate
    – very long visit duration
    – multiple pages visited
    – tractable in google analytics
    – custom URL tracking provided
    – boost ranking in SERP, SEO, profit from CPM


    Thanks, Serena Magoffin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.