A few days ago, I got a message that reminded me about the wonders of an ordinary product most people have somewhere in the house. It read:
"I had a cut on my hand that opened up while I was putting my expensive duvet cover (a recent wedding gift) over my comforter. Now there are bloodstains on the duvet cover. I tried using a carpet cleaning solution and washing it, but the stains remain. I'm worried they will be there permanently. Is there any hope of getting the stains out completely? Thanks so much for your help! — Georgia"
In hopes that she'd not set those stains forever, I responded immediately, directing Georgia to soak the stains with full-strength hydrogen peroxide. I heard back quickly. The hydrogen peroxide lightened the stains almost immediately, and within hours they disappeared completely. See what I mean? The stuff is downright wonderful.
Hydrogen peroxide is as harmless as it is powerful both as a household cleaner and all-around remedy. It is nontoxic, safe, really cheap and available in any grocery or drug store in a food-grade 3 percent dilution. It's a wonderful cleaning product and a reliable sanitizer.
But there's one thing you need to keep it mind to avoid disappointment: Hydrogen peroxide has a limited shelf life: about one year unopened, and only six months once opened — provided it's stored in a dark place. Sunlight dissipates it quickly, turning it to plain water and oxygen. Just remember, it needs to be fresh to be effective.
VEGETABLE WASH. You can stop paying $7 or more for veggie wash. Make your own by adding 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide to a sink of cold water. Wash your fruit and vegetables in the solution, and then rinse them thoroughly with cool water.
DISHWASHER. To disinfect your dishwasher, add 1/4 cup 3 percent hydrogen peroxide before you close the door to run a load.
CUTTING BOARD SANITIZER. Spray your cutting board with undiluted hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for a minute or two, and then rinse clean.
WHITE TEETH. Make a paste of table salt, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for the best whitening toothpaste.
T-SHIRT ARMPIT STAINS. Those yellow stains on white T-shirts are quite annoying. To get them out, soak the stains in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, which acts as a natural alternative to bleach, and allow the shirt to sit for a few hours. Then, launder as usual.
SANITIZE TOYS AND LUNCHBOXES. Because hydrogen peroxide is a nontoxic sanitizer, it's perfect for cleaning plastic toys and lunchboxes.
HUMIDIFIER CLEANSE. Add 2 cups 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to 1 gallon water. Run the solution through your humidifier or steamer to clean and sanitize.
STINKY TOWELS. Can't get rid of that annoying odor? Try this: Put 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 cup white vinegar together with those stinky towels in the washing machine. Fill the machine with hot water and your regular detergent, and allow the towels to soak for 15 minutes. Then, continue the cycle as normal.
AQUARIUM MAINTENANCE. Use hydrogen peroxide to control fungi and other pests in fish aquariums. It will not harm the fish if you use it sparingly.
CUTS AND INFECTIONS. Soak any infection or cut in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide for 10 minutes several times a day.
I could go on and on with more ways to use hydrogen peroxide, and perhaps I will sometime in the future. In the meantime, make sure you keep a good supply of hydrogen peroxide on hand.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.