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Peroxide and Vinegar Sterilization

Peroxide & Vinegar Sterilization is a simple, inexpensive but effective home method of sterilizing produce using everyday products in the home. It will kill almost all Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. You only need two spray bottles from a dollar store, white vinegar, and drug store hydrogen peroxide.

Peroxide and Vinegar Sterilization

You work with two clean, opaque spray bottles[1]. In one, you put a solution of 3 % hydrogen peroxide, the same strength as you get from an ordinary drugstore for disinfecting wounds. In the other spray bottle, you put white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar.) Do not dilute either of them. It is recommended that you do not mix the two mixtures together in one bottle. It's not as effective if you try to mix the two liquids in one sprayer and just do it all at once [2].

You spritz the item to be sterilized with one, then with the other. Though it doesn't matter whether you spray with the vinegar or the peroxide first, it is important that you apply the second mist right after the first one.

The peroxide taste is undetectable. A hint of the vinegar taste is still there, but that is fine for most food applications. But dealing with that taste even is easy, if you want: do the spritzes first and then, afterwards, rinse your raw veggies in water as per usual.

The method can be used for uncooked vegetables destined to be used raw in salads, such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, etc, or being put out on dip or relish trays. It will also sanitize food preparation surfaces including wooden cutting boards and plastic, steel, and meat surfaces.

There is no need to sterilize produce which will be thoroughly cooked, as the heat temperatures will deal with any bacteria.

History Notes

The method was developed by a Susan Sumner in 1995 / 1996, while she was at the University of Nebraska. She left for the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia in September 1996.

While at the University of Nebraska, she discovered that while vinegar and peroxide had abilities to sterilize, when used in conjunction with each other their strength was greatly magnified.

"If the acetic acid [vinegar] got rid of 100 organisms, the hydrogen peroxide would get rid of 10,000, and the two together would get rid of 100,000." [3]

In later tests at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, she found the combination will kill almost all Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.


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Bon mots

"Liqueurs were not lacking; but the coffee especially deserves mention. It was as clear as crystal, aromatic and wonderfully hot; but, above all, it was not handed around in those wretched vessels called cups on the left banks of the Seine, but in beautiful and capacious bowls, into which the thick lips of the reverend fathers plunged, engulfing the refreshing beverage with a noise that would have done honor to sperm-whales before a storm."

-- Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (French food writer. 1 April 1755 - 2 February 1826)

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