How do you balance being eco-friendly and yet still keep your family safe from germs? You’ve most likely heard about anti-microbial soaps and how some germs have become resistant. In the kitchen, there is a solution! In the book Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck, I read about her “dual spray program”. She keeps two spray bottles handy – one with vinegar and a dark colored one with 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The dark bottle is for the hydrogen peroxide, which needs to be kept away from light so it doesn’t break down.
How does it work?
When the hydrogen peroxide is exposed to light, heat, or organic materials it releases its extra oxygen, so that pure water and oxygen are produced. Micro-organisms find pure oxygen to be exceedingly toxic. You can actually see the reaction as the hydrogen peroxide bubbles! In Sandbeck’s book, she states that hydrogen peroxide kills 100x as many bacteria as vinegar, but when used in conjunction 10x more bacteria were killed as the hydrogen peroxide alone.
The dual spray system is good for these uses: disinfect countertops, stoves, sinks, and refrigerators, raw foods, and processed foods (do not use on marble countertops and the vinegar may be harmful to calcium-based natural stone).
To disinfect surfaces, spray with one bottle then the other. It is not necessary to rinse. Many people dislike the smell of vinegar, so you may want to spray the vinegar first. Produce and meat can follow the same method – spray with vinegar then the hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide rinses the vinegar off. Non-cardboard processed food containers should be washed of any material that spilled, then sprayed with hydrogen peroxide then vinegar, and wiped down.
A final note: cutting boards. Most people think that a plastic or glass cutting board would be cleaner than a wood one, but the opposite is true. Both a study in 1992 and one in 1993 showed that the wood cutting boards were less likely to harbor germs such as salmonella, listeria, or E. Coli. The wood fibers actually soak up and kill the bacteria. More information on these studies can be found in Ms. Sandbeck’s book.