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tan253's avatar

Will hydrogen peroxide kill all flu germs?

Asked by tan253 (2826points) December 1st, 2016

I dipped my daughters thermometer into a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to kill the flu germs so I could use it when I felt hot as well.
Now I’m wondering, does my bottle of hydrogen peroxide have flu germs in it or does the hydrogen peroxide actually kill all flu germs?
Can I now use it safely, I’m wanting to put some in my ears as I have lots of ear wax, but wondering if the bottle of HP will have flu germs in it. I should have tipped some of the HP out instead of just dipping in the thermometer to sterilise. I know this question might be absolutely ludicrous! I just don’t want to transfer the germ bug back into my body somehow. If this is a stupid question please don’t hassle me, I’ll cry. I’m very sensitive! ;)

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11 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I’m not a doctor, but I think it should be fine. I do things like that with rubbing alcohol. Plus, you’ve been around that virus all week, so you really shouldn’t worry in my opinion.

Seek's avatar

Peroxide isn’t strong enough to kill viruses.

Influenza can survive outside the body on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours. (source)

For her next case of strep throat, here is a very very exciting abstract of a study on the antibacterial properties of hydrogen peroxide. The kind sold at the supermarket is 3%. The amount of time bacteria should be exposed to a 6% concentration of H2O2 is 15 seconds. A simple dip at 3% doesn’t really do it.

Next time, use rubbing alcohol.

tan253's avatar

Yeah good advice, silly as I do have rubbing alcohol!
Yes we’ve been sleeping in the same bed and she’s been sneezing and coughing all over me for the past week, finally much better. So should I throw out the HP or keep it – what would you do if you were as silly as me and dipped in your thermometer without thinking, instead of tipping some out!

Seek's avatar

I’d not worry about it. If you’re terribly concerned, consign that bottle of peroxide to the laundry room and use it on your next batch of whites.

JLeslie's avatar

I’d keep it.

CWOTUS's avatar

In light of all that we know these days about disease causes and agents, the word “germs” is a terrible relic that means … practically nothing. It’s a catch-all term that covers “every infectious agent”, and in that way it has been rendered useless.

The word covers bacteria, viruses, parasites and parasitic protozoans, even worms, and so many and varied types of each, sometimes even including the various vectors that they use to enter our bodies and infect us, that it just doesn’t belong in a modern vocabulary.

As far as we know – because our knowledge always changes, so I’m not going to say that “this is absolutely true” – what we know as flu is caused by various kinds of fairly rapidly-mutating viruses. This is why “the flu vaccine” is concocted anew each winter season in northern latitudes, in an attempt to meet the expected threat to come later in “the flu season” (winter). I do not know if hydrogen peroxide is an effective virucide, but even if it were, “dipping the thermometer into the bottle” is a very ineffective way to sterilize the instrument, as you have realized. Doing that effectively contaminates the entire bottle, unless the contents really are an effective virucide – which I doubt in the first place. (And even if the peroxide is a good virucide it’s still poor practice to risk contaminating one’s entire supply of the cleaning agent by dipping the soiled or used instrument into it.)

So I would not recommend the use of the contents of that bottle any more for medicinal or other internal purposes, but as far as laundry, general cleaning (except wound cleaning) and other uses it should be perfectly fine. I would also shy away from recommending it for ear cleaning. Even though there are no mucous membranes that would be at direct risk of attack by a stray surviving flu virus (since the risk is lessened by the dispersal of the small amount of virus likely to have been on the instrument into the larger quantity of liquid peroxide), there are indirect pathways between the ear, nasal passages and throat which could become susceptible to a virus entry through the ear canal.

Lightlyseared's avatar

It can kill the flu virus Source (mind you they were using a vapour not a liquid) but it probably wouldn’t be my first choice of disinfectant.

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS Wouldn’t the virus need to be living in a host cell to start mutating? Plus, I don’t see how the virus would be replicating in hydrogen peroxide anyway. I’d think within a day that virus would be “dead” in there never to bother with anyone’s cells again.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

If hydrogen peroxide won’t kill all viruses, I recommend using your leftover supply on your bathtub.

First, clean the tub with a non-bleach cleanser, to remove any dirt or soap scum. Second, let the tub dry completely. Third, put hydrogen peroxide in an empty spray bottle and thoroughly coat every surface; really saturate, so that you don’t get any leggy marks from gravity on liquid. Fourth, go away and do something fun.

You should return to a gleaming white bathtub. I do this 1X per week, with excellent results.

Ok… I know that @tan253 posted the original question to the General Section, and that I’m going off-topic. I do hope the moderators will let my response stand. I’m in a sharing mood, and I wish someone had shared this tip with me decades ago.

JLeslie's avatar

Let’s remember the OP did not catch the illness from her daughter, so she is likely immune.

tan253's avatar

Yeah guys Day 7 and I still don’t have it – unlikely to get it now right??
I“m going to use the HP for cleaning and I won’t dip a flu infested thermometer into a bottle next time.
Thanks everyone!

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