Introduction: Cheap and Effective Sanitizer

Picture of Cheap and Effective Sanitizer

After cooking in the kitchen, I want to clean everything up and make sure to kill any remaining germs, but I'm not too keen on using bleach. Instead, you can use a couple of other items you may already have in your house that are very effective against germs.

Step 1: Secret Ingredients

Picture of Secret Ingredients

The two ingredients are white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide. These are both cheap and available at the supermarket. When sprayed one after the other they are remarkably effective against germs such as Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli. In addition to cleaning up after cooking, you can also use this combination to clean germs off of fruit and vegetables you're planning to eat.

How to disinfect your salad

Step 2: Two Bottle System

Picture of Two Bottle System

The key to this system is that the two ingredients are in separate bottles and one sprayed after the other. Again, the order does not matter.

What also matters is that the hydrogen peroxide is in an opaque bottle and kept in a cool area when not in use. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down in light which is why it is sold in brown bottles.

An opaque spray bottle isn't the easiest thing to get, but I found out that the spray tops to my spray bottles fit the hydrogen peroxide bottle perfectly. With a quick swap, I now had a hydrogen peroxide sprayer.

Step 3: Doing the Two Step

Picture of Doing the Two Step
My process for cleaning is simple:
  1. Get spray bottles out from under sink (cool, dark place)
  2. Spray one bottle on all areas where it needs it
  3. Spray the other bottle
  4. Put the bottles back under the sink
  5. Wipe up with a sponge
And that's it. Lots of germs go away. Or, that's almost it. One last thing to be aware of before you try this. I'll even put it in bold.

White vinegar is an acid so do not spray it on anything for which this would be a problem so look it up first. For example, granite, marble, and grout need neutral cleaners so do NOT use this on them.

OK, that's it!


RolyTron (author)2010-05-27

<<I'm not too keen on using bleach>>

No offense, but hydrogen peroxide is bleach.  It's not the same bleaching agent as what's in Clorox and the like which is sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), but they're both relatively safe in common grocery/drug store concentrations.  Hydrogen peroxide eventually breaks down to water and oxygen.  Sodium hypochlorite breaks down in to salt water relatively quickly if left in open air.

If you want to use something less harsh or less likely to damage clothes, I would suggest normal soap or a "green" cleaning solution.  I think (but have not researched) that using a steam-cleaner would probably kill just about anything you're likely to run in to with no chemicals at all.

Good luck.  :)

While I don't question the safety of chlorine bleach, the smell of it gives me terrible headache that lasts for hours. I feed my dog raw food that I prepare so I find this Instructable very useful.
Oh, and no offense, water is a chemical ;)

Jose EribertoP (author)RolyTron2014-11-06

Steam-cleaner is the BEST! Not only it cleanses, it deodorizes whatever the steam gets in contact with. Not only will it STERILIZE, it will also KILL BED BUGS (they die at 104 deg Fahrenheit or 40 deg Celcius). I bought one from "AS SEEN ON TV". I use this more often than ironing my clothes! LOL!

sdhardie (author)2013-11-08

Don't use vinegar on pearls, either, if washing jewelry with it. Or on menstrual sponges. :-p

sweetsandtea (author)2010-05-27

I have used a mix of vodka and distilled water....I usually go 1/2 and 1/2...altho you can go less on the vodka. I just find the cheapest bottle of it I can find...altho 80 proof is the best. I call it 'my foodgrade' cleaner/sanitizer and leaves no residue and the scent dissipates. I use it on doorknobs and cutting boards and etc.. Try it you'll like it!!
Also, coloudial(sp?)  silver kills germs...altho I have not figured out how to really utilize it...

MsJan (author)sweetsandtea2012-08-06

I read that you should use this in a ventilated space. But it is suppose to work well. Vodka is not cheap either so I will be using my vinegar and peroxide for my cleaning of counters, etc.

SpeakGrace (author)sweetsandtea2010-05-27

Using alcohol for cleaning is a well-accepted idea, but it is not really killing the germs unless the alcohol is greater than 60%. In order to be effective you would need to use something that is 120 proof and not cut it with water. This link leads to information posted by the CDC about research into commercially available hand sanitizers that had less than 60% alcohol in them. This research verified the CDC recommendations. It basically showed that using >60% alcohol reduced the number of germs on participants hands. Using <60% alcohol did not reduce the number of germs, it simply moved them around so they were distributed more evenly on the hands. The article is available at:

MsJan (author)SpeakGrace2012-08-06

Alcohol is very toxic to many people. Best not to use it. I cannot be near it. They love it when I go to hospital. LOL I cannot be near it EVER.

billhorvath (author)SpeakGrace2010-07-01

Here's a New York Times story on the same findings:

91% isopropyl alcohol is way cheaper than vodka. Just don't drink it.

MsJan (author)2012-08-06

Everyone should do a web search for uses of vinegar. It is unreal what you can do with it. Since I can no longer use most products on the shelf I buy white vinegar 4 gallons at a time and also a gallon of cidar vinegar. You can clean the floors and windows and counters and towles, etc. Way cheaper than many products and way safer. I use cidar vinegar for cooking and for a hair rinse. Half water with half cidar vinegar in a spray bottle and use after shampooing than spray in and rinse. Your hair will be squeeky clean.

Delaney (author)2010-05-25

Also note that you should not spray that combination onto most metals. the peroxide oxidizes the metals (copper, lead, iron) and the vinegar creates metal acetate's (water soluble metals, which vary from harmful to very poisonous) I used that mixture before for electroplating copper and lead dioxide (lead ions that are forced toward the positive terminal).
just my two cents on danger warning.
And before anyone says it do not mix acetone and bleach. in fact it is smart NEVER TO MIX ANY CHEMICALS unless you understand how they interact.

getskillz (author)Delaney2010-10-26

I think you mean do not mix AMMONIA and bleach. Mixing acetone and bleach isn't very smart either and IIRC produces chloroform, but mixing AMMONIA with bleach will liberate the chlorine gas and is considerably more dangerous.

This isn't saying mixing acetone with bleach is a good idea it's also dangerous, but who is likely to be doing that unless they're making chloroform on purpose anyway (you can't just throw them together either they need cooling and other stuff I'm deliberately leaving out)? Mixing AMMONIA and bleach is a common error that kills and injures many people.

MsJan (author)getskillz2012-08-06

Do not use it than you will be safe. They both are toxic rather mixed together or not.

Delaney (author)getskillz2010-10-31

no I really did mean acetone and bleach, you make chloroform which decomposes to phosgene gas (a carcinogen), though yeah ammonia and bleach is stupid and kills like 100 people (with really clean toilets) a year. a general rule of thumb DO NOT MIX CHEMICALS unless you absolutely know the results.

tinker234 (author)2012-02-25

can this get rid of the smell of dead things like a dead rat

fungus amungus (author)tinker2342012-02-25

Ick! OK, I recently had to clean up a dead mouse that had been there a while and oozed. I feel your pain. I did not use this as I went with the nuke-from-space option of spraying concentrated cleaner on it.

In retrospect, it would've been a great experiment. At the time... nuke from space!

phettsack (author)2011-06-12

Will it kill EHEC and STEC??

EmmettO (author)2010-06-11

Are they good at killing mold? Like in the shower?

EmmettO (author)EmmettO2010-07-28

Ok, I've been looking up info on this. Vinegar may be better than bleach for mold killing! Bleach seems to actually just turn the mold clear and does not kill the roots. I don't know if vinegar kills the roots, I couldn't find anything on that. If you're not squeemish on chemicals a mold remediation expert says that "Clorox Pro Results Outdoors" is an effective biocide that will kill mold all the way down to the roots. I was trying to figure out what was different about it but can't find anything.

moshpit6785 (author)EmmettO2011-05-19

your right! vinegar is the only thing that truely gets rid of mold. well other then i quess that clorox stuff but thats for outdoors. you dont need that in your house. vinegar is a life saver :)

omgitzstegman (author)EmmettO2010-07-08

You should definitely google that, lengthy topic...

EmmettO (author)omgitzstegman2010-07-28

Ok, I looked it up, not lengthy. . . Vinegar by itself kills 82% of mold. Hydrogen peroxide is also effective at killing mold (but I didn't see any percentages).

bazvic (author)EmmettO2010-07-28

Bleach works very well, Just fill a spay bottle with Bleach . Leave it in the shower. Just after your shower Step out and spray the shower... in the morning ..Just rinse with water. 2 or 3 times a week is all you need do works great at the coast where everything gets mould.

EmmettO (author)bazvic2010-07-28

That's what I currently use, it's a little harsh smelling and I don't want the kids using it. We have other cleaning solutions that they use but I don't know if any of them would kill mold.

Treknology (author)2010-05-28

How many problems have you had with the H202 corroding the ball valve or return spring in the trigger-spray head?

NAZTNAZ (author)Treknology2011-05-19

Unlike Bleach H2O2 won't corrode the ball in your spayer. I've used a spray top on a bottle for years on my pets (easier than dabbing with a swab) and have never had a problem with it.

bruno13069 (author)2011-05-18

White vinegar is good for breaking down hard water spots after a shower. Use it in a misting bottle and spritz the walls while they are wet. It keeps the minerals in solution as the water runs down the walls.

matstermind (author)2011-05-18

just a warning, with the addition of salt, i use this solution to etch the copper away from circuit boards. and it will still eat copper without the salt, so don't use this on anything made of copper, or you may have a hole in it.

foreverfad3d (author)2011-04-01

If your worried about germs in your sponge or if it smells at all funky (which is probably germs anyway), a nice and very useful trick I like to use is microwaving my wet, but completely rung out sponge for 30-45 seconds and it zaps all the bad stuff away.

bookfreak53 (author)2010-05-27

This was very helpful - especially as I'd been wanting a cheap, healthy veggie/fruit cleaner.

I just wanted to add one WARNING: Change out sponges frequently as microbes grow quickly on sponges. I clean mine when I use the dishwasher or when I'm doing laundry. Any time the sponge smells "sour" or yukky then your microbe count is way too high. Sometimes I use microfiber cloths and change daily.

You probably knew this already, but I hope it helps someone. Just one more comment - We want to live clean lives, but NOT TOO CLEAN. They find that kids from too sterile invironments have more doc visits for infections. When I was little we ran around and got grubby and frankly were healthier than my two daughters were in my attempts to be a "perfect" mom. Sigh! THANKS!

Marcos (author)bookfreak532010-10-29

I keep a little dish soap in the sponge, it prevents mildew. Rinse before wiping counter tops for residue free cleaning.

Marcos (author)2010-10-29

Not to hijack this thread, but when I have a small cut, I pour some peroxide into the palm of my un-injured hand, and dunk the cut into the small puddle that's in my hand. Works great, you can keep the cut immersed longer, and it does not make a mess on the counter top!

omgitzstegman (author)2010-07-08

White vinegar is awesome, I use it to clean hard water from my shave mirror, tooth brush holder, mirrors, counters, faucets, counters, sinks, stove top, you can clean almost anything with that stuff! Smells a lot better than bleach. For the people that asked, save your cider, balsamic and wine vinegar for food, it has too much sugar to clean with.

eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-06-22

So you made the sanitizer to kill the fungus among us...

doesdeer (author)2010-05-29

Bravo!  I salute you on your discovery of fitting spray bottle tops onto the tops of other bottles that have always been without them.  I also have found that isopropal alcohol bottles will accept sprayer tops.  In the last few years, I have noticed that some have deeper tops that begin the threads just out of reach for other standard spray bottles as well as the threads for peroxide, alcohol, etc.  Some have  removal-deterrent teeth in this extension area, some do not.  However, they fit the same as standard-depth spray  bottle tops once they have this extension cut off.  Since the two ingredients in your sanitizer must remain in separate bottles, I think I will set up a combining suction tube using  a 3-way coupler attached to the tubes from each ingredient bottle and a single spray bottle top.  Thus, in my mind, I will restore my belief that "I must be the the only person who does this."  

plucnerak (author)2010-05-28

plastic black paint will make bottles opque

thirster42 (author)2010-05-27

is there a reason why you wouldn't just mix the two in one bottle?

chubenka (author)thirster422010-05-27

"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."

Not a good idea.

thirster42 (author)chubenka2010-05-27

so then what's to prevent the two mixing on the counter and making the acid?

johnny3h (author)thirster422010-05-27

They DO MIX AND react, BUT... the very small volume involved in a "mist" layer is a small enough total volume to be reasonably safe.

I'm not a chemist, but I suspect the result of combination of thin sprayed materials is the same as pouring liquids togethere, but because of the small amounts, the resultant amount of hazardous material is insignificant.

chubenka (author)thirster422010-05-27

I think it has to do with the concentrations. John Q Public probably won't know the exact amount to put into one bottle so that it doesn't create the acid. Probably just spraying it on the counter is fine because it's being dispersed over a wide area.

firedancer57 (author)2010-05-25

Tea tree tincture 15 drops per 1/4 cup works well as an antiviral and smells wonderful also.   40:1 bleach/water makes a inexpensive cleaner without the clorine smell.   

cyberpigue (author)firedancer572010-05-27

Tea Tree tincture is also safe and GREAT for any kind of fungus - as in on your body.  Clears up toenails, ringworm, and any other tinea related problems such as athletes foot, jock itch, versicolor, etc. 

I used every prescription drug, even those with high liver damage risk to no avail.  This stuff cleared it up in a few weeks!

I had a wart on my foot that after many visits to the doctor did not go away. I was going to get strong acid put on my foot weekly but i used tea tree oil and my foot was wart free in a week

flamesami (author)2010-05-27

the vinegar would screw up marble too... you might like to add that to your warning...;)

fungus amungus (author)flamesami2010-05-27

OK, added that to the list, but that should do it. I don't want to try and cover everything, just let people be aware of such a problem.

metqa (author)2010-05-27

Be  careful of using Tea Tree oil in a cat household. Even a drop of this essential oil can cause fatal liver damage to felines.  If they survive they will be severely impaired and you left with large vet bills.   

I had to quit using Tea Tree oil in my mold mix because the kitten liked the smell and tried to curl up whereever I sprayed it and because Tea Tree oil is residual it doesn't go away when the liquid evaporates, the feline can contaminate itself anytime after it is sprayed.

I use vinegar and peroxide, but never thought to use them together. Thanks

karizmatic (author)2010-05-27

thanks for all this info! really... a couple more qs:

1. does it remove the unwanted guests on contact or do i need to keep the spray on for some time?
2. if i really wanted to remove the vinegar taste from my veggies, is there any reason why i couldn't just rinse it with water after spraying?

The source material is not specific about this, but from what it looks like:

1. Kills on contact, but give it a few seconds to settle.
2. Rinsing is fine. Once the unwanted guests are gone, you can do what you want. If your tap water causes issues, you have even bigger problems.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
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