Last week, I heard from one of my readers who wrote about hydrogen peroxide – something I've written about in the past but not so much in the context of this reader's personal report.
I loved her story and outcome but needed to confirm that hydrogen peroxide is safe, reasonable and recommended as a mouthwash.
In the process, I ran into a whole lot more than I was looking for: multiple uses for hydrogen peroxide around the house – some new, some not so new but perhaps forgotten.
Clean your counters and tabletops with hydrogen peroxide to kill germs and leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or spray it on the counters.
After rinsing off your wooden cutting board, pour hydrogen peroxide on it to kill salmonella and other bacteria. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer.
Mix salt, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to make a paste for brushing your teeth. Not only will this help reverse the early stages of gingivitis but if used regularly, it will also remove stains and whiten your teeth.
Reusable shopping bags
It's more than likely the reusable bags you take to the supermarket are contaminated with germs, even E-coli. That's because grocery bags often come in contact with poultry and produce that have bacteria on them, which causes cross-contamination the next time they are used. These bags should be laundered after every use, but most shoppers admit they've never done that. An easier solution is to spray them inside and out with ordinary 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.
Bloodstains on kitchen towels, clothes or other items can be difficult to remove. The secret is to saturate the stain with hydrogen peroxide. Allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then rinse with water and launder as usual.
Add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide to a load of white laundry to whiten and brighten without using chlorine bleach. Allow it to pre-soak for 15 minutes, if possible, before you start the wash cycle.
So, is using it as mouthwash safe, reasonable and recommended?
Back to the letter from reader Caren, who wrote: "I read your article on prevention for dental care. I just wanted to add another item to the arsenal for dental care -- hydrogen peroxide. I was facing a $1,600 cost for scaling and root-planing for a mild to medium case of gingivitis.
"While I was deciding when to make the appointment, I spoke with a coworker who was a part-time dental hygienist. She recommended hydrogen peroxide as a pre-brush rinse. I decided to give it a try.
"I started this more than 8 years ago and I continue to have excellent checkups. I'm not saying this will cure anything or prevent cavities but it is another tool in the box for dental care. My gums are healthier with little to no bleeding and very, very minor pain during the cleaning. I'm 54 years old with 'soft' teeth prone to cavities and gingivitis and this was something easy to incorporate into my routine."
According to the Intelligent Dental website, hydrogen peroxide can be used safely as a mouthwash, provided the Food and Drug Administration approved 1 to 3 percent concentration mixed with equal parts water is strictly adhered to. In this way, it can be used to treat trench mouth, gingivitis and plaque and, in some cases, help to whiten your teeth.
It is extremely important to stick to the FDA-recommended concentration of 1 to 3 percent that can be bought in drugstores and pharmacies. Using too high a concentration of peroxide is known to cause skin injuries, and its ingestion is possibly fatal, especially at 35 percent concentration. Anything above 3 percent grade would be considered dangerous to use as a mouthwash.