Hydrogen Peroxide Uses, Benefits, and Chemical Safety Facts

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide, a chemical that appears as a colorless liquid, is used in a wide range of cosmetics and personal care products, including hair dyes and bleaches, conditioners, shampoos, rinses and acne treatments. Hydrogen peroxide can also be found in over-the-counter (OTC) first aid antiseptics, and is used as a bleaching agent in some food products. It has other consumer and industrial uses as well, including water treatment.

Uses & Benefits

Hydrogen peroxide is used as an antimicrobial agent and an oxidizing agent. It is used as an OTC antiseptic to clean wounds. In personal care products, such as hair dyes and toothpastes, hydrogen peroxide works as an oxidizing agent, offering a lightening/whitening effect.

Safety Information

Consumers typically purchase hydrogen peroxide for household use in a dilute solution, e.g., 3%. Manufacturer’s instructions should be followed for safe use.

The European Commission on Health & Consumer Protection conducted extensive testing on the safety of hydrogen peroxide in teeth whitening products and determined that the “use of tooth whitening products containing less than 0.1 to 6 percent hydrogen peroxide is considered safe.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tested the effects of hydrogen peroxide as a food additive and placed it on the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list.

FDA also has stated that hydrogen peroxide is “safe for use as an oral wound healing agent.”