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Super Safe, Super Cheap Disinfecting Solution for Baby Toys and Your Kitchen

How to clean baby toys naturally, peroxide for disinfecting

Chicken with a side of bleach, anyone?

I used to have a bottle of diluted bleach water under my sink (which was likely often way too strong because I didn’t realize quite how diluted it could be and still be effective), and I would whip it out when I cooked with raw chicken or killed a spider on the kitchen counter.

Ruining a brand new shirt because it brushed against the edge of said counter wasn’t the only reason I was happy to get rid of that bottle once I started doing more research into natural cleaners.

People often ask me about bleach alternatives, and last month at my local Bible study I got that question again, particularly for raw chicken, something people have certainly been taught to fear (when in reality pet turtles are probably even more dangerous).

RELATED: When is the last time you sanitized your cell phone?

How to Clean Baby Toys

The conversation was held across a table in a room full of toddlers running around, so it wasn’t exactly a private question. I was thrilled when another gal who is a nurse chimed in about cleaning baby toys and reported that the hospital she works at uses simple hydrogen peroxide wipes to clean toys that are shared between patients (along with a number of other surfaces).


I was off to do some research to see how prevalent hydrogen peroxide is as a hospital-grade disinfectant and what concentration it needed to be, and it’s all good news for us naturally minded mamas!

RELATED: Non Toy Kids Gifts.


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Peroxide For Disinfecting

Until now, I’d learned about the dangers of bleach (brightly colored shirts aside), an old research study that showed that hydrogen peroxide and vinegar sprayed separately killed bacteria and germs, and some updated research on that topic after being challenged by a reader. (That post has a plethora of sources that show that hydrogen peroxide does, in fact, kill germs, even at the 3% solution sold in pharmacies for home use.)

From that I formulated my routine of the 3 simple cleaners under my sink (no bleach!) that I use for just about everything in the house.

I had heard that Thymol-based disinfectants and hand sanitizers were approved for use in daycare centers, and now to find out that hospitals can and do use simple, safe hydrogen peroxide wipes for cleaning is really encouraging. Sometimes it feels like the world is a bleach bomb waiting to explode, especially in government-regulated public places, and I’m so glad it’s not.

Exploring Hydrogen Peroxide Wipes – What’s in There?

I’m determined to use hydrogen peroxide even more in our home – I am not supposed to use vinegar on our hardwood floors and have already defaulted to my H2O2 bottle since moving here, and I’m even wondering if I could add some hydrogen peroxide to my homemade baby wipes solution to keep mold from growing inside the very moist container.

I’ve used tea tree oil or a germ-fighting blend of essential oil in the past to stave off bacterial and fungal growth, but I’ve since learned that blend is probably not so safe for children (sigh) so I wish I hadn’t. (Do you know which essential oils you shouldn’t use around kids? You need to.)

I am wondering if peroxide would only kill germs that are already on the wipes/in the box and then quickly break down into oxygen and water, or if it would continue to offer preservative protection for my wipes. Any thoughts on that?

Commercially Available Hydrogen Peroxide-Based Wipes

I checked out some commercial brands of hydrogen peroxide-based wipes, and may I first complain that product ingredients shouldn’t be so veiled and hard to find!? I really respect a company that shares their ingredients wherever their products are sold. Just sayin’.

Here’s what I could dig up:

Stop using Lysol wipes with these natural cleaning tips!Lysol Power and Free Multi-Purpose Cleaning Wipes
(found on Amazon)


  • water
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • ethanol
  • citric acid
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • propoxypropanol
  • sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate
  • fragrance
  • sodium xylenesulfonate
  • dodecylbenzene
  • sodium sulfate

The purpose of the ingredients are as follows:

  • H2O2 is the only antimicrobial
  • 4 ingredients are “solvents”
  • 3 are “surfactants” (a fancy word for soap)
  • citric acid is a complexing/sequestering agent, whatever that means

Clorox Healthcare Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant WipesCleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide to keep healthy, peroxide for disinfecting(found on Amazon)


  • full ingredients are unavailable that I can find, but the Material Safety Data Sheet for the product lists hydrogen peroxide (1-5% concentration) and benzyl alcohol (1-5% concentration).

My guess? They seem really expensive to me for as simple as hydrogen peroxide is.

Making Your Own Hydrogen Peroxide-Based Wipes

It would be simple to DIY these wipes with some hydrogen peroxide and a drop of natural soap concentrate in water.

Make a Disinfectant Spray with Hydrogen Peroxide

You could easily make a disinfectant spray for inanimate surfaces (glass, metal, or plastic) by putting a small spray bottle sprayer directly on a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Look for the large hydrogen peroxide bottles if you have a standard size sprayer, or grab these nice glass ones.

To disinfect, first clean the surface with soap and water. Once you spray the hydrogen peroxide it is best to leave it on the surface for at least five minutes up to 60 minutes before wiping clean and drying. Hydrogen peroxide can be damaging to fabrics as well as some solid surfaces so proceed with caution.

Remember that whenever you store hydrogen peroxide, it needs to be away from light and air, which will break it down into water and oxygen – not as handy for cleaning and disinfecting.

Is Your Brain Clean? A Vocabulary Lesson

Most moms I know complain that their vocabulary is quickly diminishing (you know, going away…), so it’s worth a moment to differentiate between cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing.

For the record, hydrogen peroxide is listed as chemical disinfectant by the CDC in the Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities (2008), not a method of sterilization. That document (all 150+ pages of it) is the source for this section.


Natural cleaning tips... time to quit using toxic chemicals!

Cleaning is simply the physical act of removing substances from a surface, likely a combination of dirt and dust plus living organisms like bacteria. Cleaning can be done with a dry rag, a wet cloth (water only) or most effective with soap and water, no triclosan (banned by the FDA in 2016) or antibacterial chemicals needed.


Natural cleaning tips, Peroxide for disinfectant

Disinfecting doesn’t just remove dirt and germs, it describes a process that “eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores, on inanimate objects.” (according to the CDC)

A disinfectant does kill bacteria, just not spores, which only come into play in a small number of diseases, mostly the kind you’d get in a hospital. Smile For cleaning your home and keeping your family safe, this is the level you want to pay attention to.


Peroxide for disinfecting, time to quit using toxic chemicals!

Sterilizing is the top dog, used pretty much only for medical instruments that are going to enter your body.

It “destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life.” Heat or steam is a major method of sterilizing, and any liquid sterilizing agents have to be left on the surface for quite some time (not just a minute or two or a few seconds after spraying and wiping a counter).

In your home, you are likely not sterilizing anything, nor do you really need to 99.9% of the time.

But you do still have to clean! Just because hydrogen peroxide is effective in killing bacteria doesn’t mean you can just spray it on everything and assume they are safe for your kids to chew on…

Why? The CDC again:

“Because maximum effectiveness from disinfection and sterilization results from first cleaning and removing organic and inorganic materials.”

In other words, wipe clean first, even if you just use a dry microfiber cloth, then disinfect.

The Tale of a Slippery Floor

chicken rice soup

I mentioned above that I have been using hydrogen peroxide and water (50/50 blend) to clean my hardwood floors. I don’t really mop, honestly, but with the amount of spot cleaning we have to do for spills and dropped food, I’m pretty sure the floor gets clean enough over the course of a month. Smile

This week my 3-year-old dropped a bowl of soup in the kitchen, thankfully while carrying it to the dishwasher and not to the table. There wasn’t much left in it, but a decent mess nonetheless.

We cleaned it up with a rag and then squirted it down the the H2O2 bottle and wiped again.

The floor was SO slippery all day! I thought, “Oh, dear, I guess this is what ‘clean floor’ feel like! Perhaps I need to mop from time to time…”

The next day, however, the area caught the light correctly and I could see that there was still a ton of residue there. I realized that the fat component of my homemade chicken stock recipe had clearly remained on the floor even after what I thought was a thorough wiping. We were literally greased up to slide across the floor in our socks!

Much to my 9-year-old’s dismay – he much enjoyed messing around on the slippery floor – I sprayed the area with Branch Basics (new formula, even better!) (product being reformulated, check back later!) , wiped again, and all was well. Shiny, but not uncannily slippery. Smile

I tell that story because it’s a pretty clear reminder of the need for a two-fold approach to cleaning in most circumstances – first remove the dirt/grease/grime using something with soap, then disinfect with hydrogen peroxide. That would be why the commercial wipes I shared above have both a surfactant (soap) and a disinfectant in them at once.

Alternatives to Bleach Solutions

When my first was a baby, I bought a lot of toys and even the high chair second hand.

I have distinct memories of drawing a sink full of hot water, adding some bleach, scrubbing the surface of the toys or high chair tray with baking soda to get the grime off, then soaking or dipping in the bleach water.

I also used bleach-based toilet cleaners, then switched to vinegar, but I think that’s been too acidic and is starting to eat away the sealant on the seat. Sad smile

No more.

Hydrogen peroxide is my new best friend for disinfecting.

“Among the products recommended for home disinfection of reusable objects are bleach, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. APIC recommends that reusable objects (e.g., tracheostomy tubes) that touch mucous membranes be disinfected by immersion in 70% isopropyl alcohol for 5 minutes or in 3% hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Additionally, a 1:50 dilution of 5.25%–6.15% sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) for 5 minutes should be effective.” (source)
Natural cleaning tips... time to quit using toxic chemicals!

(photo source)

Toilets, inside and out?

Fill an opaque spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide (or attach a spray nozzle directly to the peroxide bottle) and use it regularly. Just remember that if you spray and then wipe off right away, spray once again and leave it to dry for maximum germ-killing power.

Toothbrushes, door handles, and light switches.

Particularly after an illness runs through your house, it’s a great idea to soak toothbrushes in a cup of hydrogen peroxide and take your trusty spray bottle and a rag (to catch drips from running down the walls and pre-clean the surface before the spray that will sit there) and disinfect all the lightswitch plates and doorknobs in the house.

cleaning toys, cleaning baby toys

Cleaning Toys

Baby toys?

Spray with straight hydrogen peroxide, wipe H2O2 on with a cloth, or soak in a sink full of water with some peroxide added (that might dilute it too much; use your own judgment).

Even fabrics and plush toys!

The CDC guidelines I quoted above also cite a study that “demonstrated the effectiveness of spraying fabric with 3% hydrogen peroxide” to prevent the spread of disease from one patient to the next on room-dividing curtains. Sounds good enough for second-hand toys to me!

And chicken in the kitchen.

Just remember that when disinfecting with hydrogen peroxide (with anything, really), you need to leave the solution sitting there for 5-60 minutes, depending on how diluted it is and how nasty the germs you’re trying to kill are.

H2O2 is rated for big nasties like staph, e. coli, some drug-resistant bacteria, influenza, norovirus and more, which is awesome!

If hospitals can do it, you can too.

Cleaning baby toys naturally, peroxide for disinfecting

Unless noted, images that are not my own are from GraphicStock. Used with permission.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

24 thoughts on “Super Safe, Super Cheap Disinfecting Solution for Baby Toys and Your Kitchen”

  1. So does that mean I am spray 1part 3% peroxide mixed with 1part water on my carpet ( that my 1year old days off of) and leave it on without worry? Also could I spray it on fabrics and leave it on for antibacterial properties?

  2. I am aware of issues with the use of stabilizers in all HP. Some are toxic to the liver. Some are benign. Ultimately food grade HP is best from what I’ve read. Any thoughts or info here?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Well…that’s not something I’ve heard of at all, I’m so sorry. Wish I knew more! Now I wonder if I have some new research to do…thanks for sharing! 🙂 Katie

      1. Here’s what I’ve found at first glance.

        I hope this helps. 🙂

  3. I have been looking everywhere how to use h2o2. Thank you for sharing this information. I have two years old son and his toys are everywhere. If I wipe them with H2O2 will it be safe for him? Best regards!

  4. Meijer actually now sells hydrogen peroxide in brown bottles with spray tops. I picked up a few more last time I was there! They are smaller than the regular bottles which makes them easy to stash in bathrooms and then refill from the big bottle of peroxide.

    1. And meijer also has hydrogen peroxide wipes in brown containers that list only hydrogen peroxide and purified water as ingredients!

  5. Thanks for the up-to-date research! When I was running developmental research studies on infants and toddlers in the 1990s, we used peroxide to disinfect the toys in between kids, but I hadn’t seen any recent updates.

    I use peroxide a lot at home, for disinfection, stain removal (only works on organic stains, like foods and blood), and cleaning in grooves like around the drain and faucets–the bubbling action is wonderful for getting gunk out!

    For your baby wipes…have you tried just putting the solution in a bottle and squirting it on the wipes immediately before use? That’s what I do. My “solution” has usually been just plain water; it’s easiest!

    Two cautions about peroxide:
    1. It can bleach things, especially natural dyes. Test a small area before spraying it all over your furniture or carpet!
    2. It’s pretty hard on skin. If I get a significant amount on my hands while cleaning and don’t wash it off within a few minutes, the top layer of skin turns white and peels off. I would not use it in baby wipes for this reason.

  6. This is all very helpful! I use Branch Basics and love it! However, do you know how effective it is on raw meat juices that end up on the counter? Would you use H202 over Branch Basics? I usually just spray and wipe clean but maybe I need to let is sit for a bit.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Branch Basics is a soap, so it would be good for the 1st clean up to *remove* the chicken juice, but it won’t do anything to sterilize, which most people like to do after chicken juice. Then you’d want to have a spray bottle of H2O2 and spritz the area and let it sit for a few minutes if possible. I’m always spraying it in my sink after cleaning up chicken and think, “I won’t run water for a few minutes” and then the next thing I do, I forget and rinse something. The kitchen doesn’t “sit” for long! 😉 Katie

  7. Shelley Gehman

    Great tips, thank you! I keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide under the sink and all I had to do was insert a spray attachment right to the brown bottle.. Just a generic spray attachment fits fine.

  8. Great info! So, for example, you’re saying that when my kids have the stomach flu, and have thrown-up on the carpet, or furniture, or their dolls, after cleaning it off as best as I can, I can follow-up with spraying it with a straight solution of hydrogen peroxide, let it dry, and that will disinfect?
    Is that more effective than spraying on those items a solution of white vinegar, water, and tea tree essential oil?

    And when my kids are potty-training, after cleaning up their accidents, is spraying hydrogen peroxide on the accident spot better than using a white vinegar/water/tea tree essential oil spray?

    I’m always so happy to learn new tips & tricks to really get things cleaned when it is especially important, such as when sicknesses come through…

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      One thing I learned in that big doc from the CDC is that different viruses and bacteria have different responses – vinegar actually is proven to kill some nasty viruses, so for vomit, that might be better (only because peroxide could bleach your couch, although it’s really effective at getting stains out of carpet!). For potty training accidents, yes, I’d go with peroxide too since vinegar could eat away at your floor and has more fumes that peroxide. 🙂 Katie

  9. Andrea Newman

    I love H2O2! I’ve also been adding a splash to water when I wash my fruits and veggies. I love knowing it’s just as effective as bleach with out being as harmful.

  10. Thanks for clarifying how to use h2o2. I’ve read conflicting reports, & now I understand why some said 1 thing & some another.

  11. Can hydrogen peroxide be used for disinfection in laundry? I have hand me down diapers that I would like to disinfect without needing to buy bleach.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I didn’t see anything about laundry specifically, but if you can spray it on curtains in a hospital and kill disease, I can’t imagine it would not be strong enough. What I”m not sure of is concentration – do you have to soak the diapers in straight peroxide, for example, or just dump a bottle or half a bottle into a small load, or what? I bet someone has written about diapers specifically though…and actually, with the inserts at least, you can just boil the heck out of them in a big pot! That’s definitely going to disinfect and is totally traditional. 🙂 Katie

      1. Would boiling get rid of yeast & yeast spores?
        How long to boil?

        My baby daughter had thrush & a yeast diaper rash, and now I need to clean the cloth diapers really well so the yeast diaper rash doesn’t come back. I don’t have many, and they are flats, so boiling would be easy for me to do. I know to not boil the covers, though…

        1. Helen @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Hi Jill!

          My favorite resources for cloth diapers are Dirty Diaper Laundry and Cloth Diaper Geek. Definitely don’t boil your covers, but inserts and the like are easy to boil, yes.

  12. I did not realize that Hydrogen Peroxide can be used to disinfect! I am definitely going to make some changes. I have wanted to eliminate bleach for a long time but didn’t know what else to use.

    I make homemade baby wipes too and I have found that since switching to distilled water & purchasing a wipes warmer the wipes now last longer. I will make a batch and it will last 3-4 days (maybe longer but I always run out at that point) with distilled water and when kept in a wipes warmer. The wipes warmer also makes them perfect for newborn sponge baths and face/hand clean-ups with older babies & toddlers.

  13. What do you use on your shower? Do you use an after shower spray, or just clean as needed? We just did a bathroom remodel and I have been spraying with just vinegar. I’d hate to etch out our new fiberglass shower! Would hydrogen peroxide work for this?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I used to use vinegar water as an after-shower spray, but we had grout (in our old house) and I learned it wasn’t good for that. H2o2 is pretty good for cleaning grout! I would definitely not use straight vinegar if I were you, if anything dilute about 1/4 c. to 32 oz. water. If you want to kill germs, hydrogen peroxide water isn’t a bad idea, but it’s not like it’s going to cut down on soap scum or anything. I find the best way to keep a shower looking nice is to simply wipe it down with a microfiber cloth after each shower. In the bathtub, I do the same thing and use baking soda if there’s ever a “ring” around the tub. 🙂 Katie

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