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Words do this to us. They feed us even before we see. They build expectations. They are things too. And they lead us to see other things in a certain way. Words activated like and paired with the visual are the message.

The $1 Cleaning Product That May Change Your Life (And Help You Get Your Deposit Back)

Danelle Cheney

When we’re not making ourselves laugh or working late into the night, we do normal people stuff. Stuff that average adults everywhere do, like cleaning.

We’ve started using a magical cleaning ingredient that’s not only super cheap but amazingly effective and requires minimal work. Dreamy, right?

It's hydrogen peroxide. You can buy a decent-sized bottle for around $1 at big box chains ($0.89 at our local Target). It works in all sorts of ways:


Bathroom Scrub / Hard Surface Stain Remover:

Combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. This is especially great for scrubbing sinks, showers, toilets, tile and grout. We spread the paste on the area that needed lots of help, watched some TV or read a good book or ate some chocolate, scrubbed the area (with a toothbrush, scrub brush, or sponge) then washed off with water. For set-in stains, let spots sit with paste applied for 2-6 hours (multiple times if needed).

Let’s just say this particular mixture removed some awful mold stains from a toilet seat that no other cleaning product on the market touched, and that a significant other exclaimed “HOLY BAJEEZUS” upon seeing the before/after.


Carpet Cleaner / Stain Remover for Clothes:

We've unearthed all sorts of recipes for these circumstances, and have found that any approximation between these two mixtures works well.

For clothing items and other fabrics that can be laundered, mix two parts hydrogen peroxide to one part dish soap (Dawn original—the blue stuff—is recommended). Apply to stained area and rub in with an old toothbrush, rag, or your gloved fingers, and let sit for a few before laundering. PLEASE always check for colorfastness on your clothing—we’d hate to see anything bad happen to that favorite tee.

For carpet cleaning, mix a cup-ish of hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of dish soap. Apply to stain, rub or brush in, repeat if necessary then blot with a water-dampened rag and let dry. Again, if you're worried about colorfastness on carpet or your antique rug, test a small area first.

Even after seeing the way hydrogen peroxide eliminated crazy mold stains like it was no big deal, we were kinda skeptical that it would work so well in carpet cleaner form. Guess what? This mixture removed stains that a professional carpet cleaner (paired with an expensive cleaning solution) couldn’t. With minimal effort.


Left: before cleaning mixture. Right: after cleaning mixture and a couple quick scrubs with an old toothbrush; less than 60 seconds later. We promise.

Left: before cleaning mixture. Right: after cleaning mixture and a couple quick scrubs with an old toothbrush; less than 60 seconds later. We promise.

Hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning is especially good for fresh blood stains on fabrics and carpets. Your mileage will vary with dried blood stains, but it's worked well for us so far.



Guess what? A sprayer from another old bottle should fit right on the peroxide bottle. Spray kitchen surfaces, bathroom surfaces, even mirrors. Use it to disinfect your cutting boards (don't be afraid to let the peroxide sit and bubble for a few minutes, it works best that way), garbage cans, pretty much any scary-dirty surface you can think of. Wipe. Done. You're welcome.


Ok, but how does it work? Is it safe?

So, here's the thing. Unlike we were taught, you really don't want to use the stuff on cuts, scrapes, or other ouchies. An initial cleaning with hydrogen peroxide is okay, but it actually prevents healing with prolonged use by destroying some of your good cells (along with the bad bacteria cells). (We were told this by an ACTUAL DOCTOR after an experience with a scary-looking infected puncture wound. Yes.) The better bet is to clean any boo-boos with soap and water, keep them bandaged up, and apply an antibiotic cream on a regular basis.

That being said: it IS antibacterial (a status approved by the EPA, in case you wondered) and it WILL disinfect yucky stuff. Most commercially-available peroxide is a 3% mixture, meaning it's 3% peroxide and 97% water. It's an oxidizer (yeah, think Oxi-Clean) which is what makes it so great for stain removal, but also means it can potentially bleach items that aren't colorfast—so if you're nervous, test, test, test. Hydrogen peroxide is light-sensitive, so you'll want to keep it in the dark brown bottle it came in (hence our sprayer-switcheroo trick). It breaks down into water and oxygen gas, making it safe to use if there's kids or pets in the vicinity and environmentally friendly.

You’re welcome. Now get back to worrying about your wardrobe and book collection and vacation plans.