DIY Natural Disinfectant That's Better Than Bleach

This homemade natural disinfectant cleaner can be used on kitchen surfaces or produce without worrying about it leaving harmful residue or tainting food. And you need just two ingredients: vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. A study by Virginia Tech found that misting one right after the other killed virtually all Salmonella and E. coli bacteria and was more effective than bleach.

Vinegar is an effective all-purpose cleaner for most cleaning tasks. But when trying to eliminate foodborne pathogens like E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella, natural cleaners can join forces to become even more powerful. Used correctly, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide kill bacteria, viruses and germs, and are 10 times more effective together than when used separately.

Image Credit: Susan Hudson

Warning

Don't put vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together in the same bottle. It won't have the same cleaning power, and combining both in the same bottle creates peracetic acid, which can be harmful. So it's best to keep them separate!

Things You'll Need

  • Distilled white vinegar

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide

  • Essential oil (optional)

  • 1 spray bottle

  • Spray nozzle for the original peroxide bottle or a dark spray bottle

Image Credit: Susan Hudson

Step 1

Pour undiluted vinegar into a spray bottle. Add 5 to 10 drops of an antibacterial essential oil like clove or tea tree, if desired. Both oils are naturally antibacterial and can help reduce the strong scent of vinegar.

Image Credit: Susan Hudson

Step 2

Hydrogen peroxide starts to breaks down when exposed to light. Keep it in its original bottle and add a spray nozzle, or use a dark-colored bottle with a spray nozzle.

Image Credit: Susan Hudson

Step 3

To disinfect surfaces like counters or cutting boards, first wipe them down and clean with soap and water. Mist the surface with vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes. Wipe down and mist the same area with the hydrogen peroxide. Let sit for 5 minutes or until it has stopped fizzing. There's no need to rinse.

The order in which you spray vinegar or hydrogen peroxide doesn't matter, as long as you let each sit for 5 minutes.

Image Credit: Susan Hudson

Warning

Don’t use vinegar on marble surfaces. The acid will harm the stone.

Step 4

A University of Florida study found that vinegar was a powerful disinfecting produce wash, reducing bacteria by 90 percent and viruses by about 95 percent on strawberries.

First rinse produce with water to remove any dirt particles. Then mist with vinegar followed by hydrogen peroxide. Rinse and serve.

Image Credit: Susan Hudson
Image Credit: Susan Hudson