Hydrogen Peroxide (2024)

Hydrogen Peroxide (1)

Hydrogen peroxide is commonly found in pharmacies and stores selling personal care products. It is an inexpensive and potentially helpful tool for loosening up problematic earwax that can cause hearing loss and tinnitus and flushing your ears if you believe you have mild impaction or buildup. But how safe is hydrogen peroxide, and what are some considerations for its use?

How to use hydrogen peroxide to remove built-up wax

Hydrogen peroxide is best used by inserting a few drops of the solution directly into the ear canal and allowing it to sit for a few minutes by tilting your head so the treated ear faces the ceiling. You may hear fizzing or bubbling, which is perfectly normal. Then, tilt your ear down toward a sink or basin and allow the liquid to drain. You can fill a bulb syringe, made specifically for the ear, with warm water and flush the ear a few times. While the treatment may be working, it may not be readily apparent – don’t expect to see chunks of earwax dropping out.

There are a few considerations here. First, filling the entire ear canal with hydrogen peroxide is unnecessary. 4 to 6 drops should do just fine. Second, it is important not to leave the hydrogen peroxide solution in your ear for more than a few minutes. While the 3% concentration sold in stores is not dangerous, anything more than 6% or so can potentially irritate the skin. Also, peroxide becomes water and oxygen once it reacts with substances like protein and fat. Water isn’t great for the ear canal skin, and prolonged exposure can lead to infection (swimmer’s ear) by breaking down the skin’s natural protective function.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are several circ*mstances when you should not use hydrogen peroxide in your ear. These include:

– A perforated eardrum or a history of problems with your eardrum.
– If you have a recent or active ear infection.
– If tubes were placed in your ears as an adult or even as a child.
– If you are experiencing ear pain.

In any of these circ*mstances, the removal of wax should be performed by a qualified ENT like Dr. Boger to ensure you do not experience problems and to treat any infection or other issues.

There’s nothing wrong with warming the hydrogen peroxide before you drop it in your ear. Just pay special attention to the temperature of the hydrogen peroxide, as it can easily scald your ear if heated in the microwave for too long. Body temperature or slightly warmer is adequate. Warmed liquid can increase the effectiveness of breaking down the earwax and allow it to be removed more easily. Room temperature liquids placed in the ear can cause temporary dizziness which subsides as they warm to body temperature.

You can irrigate gently and with care. Even bulb syringes made to irrigate the ear can cause problems if misused. Use warm water and flush the ear with short, gentle bursts. Using too much force can cause trapped water behind the wax, or even a perforation of the ear drum and infection. If there is any pain, STOP.

In most cases, if your hearing gets worse immediately after home treatment after using due caution and following directions, it’s likely that the earwax has moved and occluded your ear canal. Typically, this is not something to worry about, and this will often resolve on its own shortly after treatment or with further home treatment within a few days. If you feel significant pain or pressure after performing the in-home earwax cleaning, it’s very important that you visit your ENT to assess for possible infection and/or damage to the ear canal or eardrum.

Earwax is beneficial to the health of your ear. While it may seem disgusting, earwax protects our ear canals from bacteria and fungi that could otherwise cause infections. Constantly cleaning your ears with hydrogen peroxide can cause problems. It can strip your ear of important earwax that is serving its normal beneficial function, and it can also irritate the sensitive skin of your ear canal. Accordingly, we only recommend using an at-home earwax removal regimen with peroxide as needed, but no more than once every month or so. If you are experiencing constant and severe blockages, this is a good reason to visit your ENT. Similarly, if you are not experiencing any relief after several tries over a few days, your hearing concern may require a complete medical evaluation.

The Bottom Line

Hydrogen peroxide is a relatively quick and inexpensive way to treat earwax at home. Just be sure to avoid the temptation to overtreat and speak to your doctor if in doubt. Ultimately, while we want you to experience relief, we also don’t want you to damage your ear in any way.

Hydrogen Peroxide (2024)


What is 6% H2O2 used for? ›

It is used to cleanse wounds and ulcers in concentrations of up to 6%. Adhering and blood-soaked dressings may be released by the application of a solution of hydrogen peroxide. A 1.5% solution has been used as a mouthwash in the treatment of acute stomatitis and as a deodorant gargle.

What is the weakest bond in hydrogen peroxide? ›

The weakest bond in hydrogen peroxide is the O-O bond. This is the energy for 1 mol of molecules. The longest wavelength that will break the O-O bond is 842 nm.

What is 6% peroxide used for? ›

For use as a mild disinfectant for minor cuts, wounds and skin ulcers or as a mouthwash and gargle. For skin disinfection: Adults, the elderly and children: Dilute a portion of the peroxide with an equal amount of water. Soak some cotton wool in this solution and use it to dress the wound as required.

What can hydrogen peroxide react with? ›

Hydrogen peroxide decomposes into water and oxygen upon heating or in the presence of numerous substances, particularly salts of such metals as iron, copper, manganese, nickel, or chromium.

What is 7% hydrogen peroxide used for? ›

7% hydrogen peroxide for iron and sulfur treatment

Hydrogen Peroxide is used to treat water. Well owners are oftentimes faced with a dilemma when it comes to chemically treating their source of water. Hydrogen peroxide is one available treatment that provides many advantages.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide 6% as mouthwash? ›

Gargling with hydrogen peroxide may help whiten teeth or reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. However, it is vital to use a concentration no stronger than 3 percent and to use it in moderation to avoid irritation.

What is the highest strength of hydrogen peroxide? ›

Commercial grades from 70% to 98% are also available, but due to the potential of solutions of more than 68% hydrogen peroxide to be converted entirely to steam and oxygen (with the temperature of the steam increasing as the concentration increases above 68%) these grades are potentially far more hazardous and require ...

Is peroxide unstable? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is unstable, decomposing readily to oxygen and water with release of heat. Although nonflammable, it is a powerful oxidizing agent that can cause spontaneous combustion when it comes in contact with organic material.

What bond holds H2O2 together? ›

An inorganic peroxide consisting of two hydroxy groups joined by a covalent oxygen-oxygen single bond. This entity has been manually annotated by the ChEBI Team. Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound with the formula H2O2.

What is 8% hydrogen peroxide used for? ›

This is a high-grade disinfectant that is often used in healthcare settings, crime clean-up, and virus and mold remediation. Pure Food Grade 8 Percent Hydrogen Peroxide 1 Gallon is an all-natural product that is 100% biodegradable into water and oxygen.

What is 10% hydrogen peroxide used for? ›

Found in a brown bottle, hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic liquid that in the past was typically used to treat cuts or other skin wounds, and kill germs. However, peroxide is often used in non-medical situations, including for cleaning, disinfecting and stain removal.

What is 9% peroxide used for? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is sold in drugstores and grocery stores at a low concentration, usually at 3 to 9 percent. It can be used as a disinfectant and as bleach, including as a hair lightener. Because of this, hydrogen peroxide is an ingredient in many blonde hair dyes.

What explodes when mixed with hydrogen peroxide? ›

Contact with combustible materials may result in their spontaneous ignition. Solutions containing over 30% hydrogen peroxide can detonate when mixed with organic solvents (such as acetone, ethanol, glycerol); the violence of the explosion increases with increasing concentration of the hydrogen peroxide.

What should I not mix with hydrogen peroxide? ›

Don't mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together in the same mixture. This can create peracetic acid, which may be toxic and can irritate your throat and lungs, eyes and skin. You can, however, alternate spraying hydrogen peroxide and vinegar on a surface. Just make sure to wipe the surface between sprays.

What happens when you mix sugar and hydrogen peroxide? ›

The mixture of sugar and hydrogen peroxide produces a renewable liquid fuel that can be stored for long periods - weeks, months, years - and used when needed to power automobiles or to heat homes, factories and office buildings, or to power steam turbines for producing electricity during peak-time demand.

Is 6% hydrogen peroxide safe to use? ›

5 – 8% hydrogen peroxide are labelled “Irritating to eyes”, more than 8% are labelled "Harmful if swallowed" and “Risk of serious damage to eyes”, more than 35% have an additional label “Irritating to respiratory system and skin”, higher concentrations are in addition labelled “Causes burn”.

How long should I use 6% hydrogen peroxide? ›

Recommended wear time is 1.5 hours per day for 6% Hydrogen Peroxide. Wear time of 3 to 4 hours per day for the Hybrid Pro, and 6 hours, but better overnight, for 10% and 16% Carbamide Peroxide. After whitening brush teeth. Clean your whitening trays with cool water and a soft toothbrush.

How to use hydrogen peroxide 6% for cleaning? ›

To disinfect, first clean any visible dirt or grime off the area with plain soap and water. Then spray surfaces with a 50/50 mix of peroxide and water. Let it sit for five minutes or longer. Rinse surfaces that touch food, like cutting boards, but let other surfaces air dry.

What is H2O2 most commonly used for? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic used on the skin to prevent infection of minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. It may also be used as a mouth rinse to help remove mucus or to relieve minor mouth irritation (such as due to canker/cold sores, gingivitis).

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