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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

Hydrogen Peroxide. It Kills Mites and Pests

Updated: Apr 19


Picture bubbles in your sink, but instead of soap and water, imagine miniature bombs detonating inside tiny, jelly-like structures called cells. That's hydrogen peroxide on a rampage, and it's fascinatingly brutal science!

This bubbly bleach cousin might seem harmless, but inside a cell, it's a wrecking ball in disguise. It reacts with iron inside cells, creating free radicals, the chemical equivalent of rabid dogs with scissors. These radicals tear through cell walls like hungry termites, ripping apart proteins, fats, and even DNA - the cell's instruction manual.

Think of it like a chaotic game of dominoes: one molecule gets mangled, setting off a chain reaction that topples the entire cellular structure. Poof! The cell explodes, kaput. This is why hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant - it doesn't discriminate, blasting the good and bad guys equally.

But wait, there's a twist! In low concentrations, hydrogen peroxide can actually be a cellular hero. It helps fight off infections and even acts as a signaling molecule, telling cells how to respond to stress. It's all about the dose, folks!

So next time you see that fizzy bottle, remember the double-edged sword of hydrogen peroxide. It's a cellular bomb squad and a lifeguard rolled into one, a testament to the delicate balance of nature, where even a simple bubble can hold the power to destroy or protect. Now go forth and respect the bubbles, but maybe stick to soap for your sink.

Hydrogen Peroxide is a Powerful Killer

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic that is safe for a variety of household uses. When mixed with water to create a solution, the mixture can kill bacteria, fungi, viruses, and tiny mites living on garlic cloves.

Garlic is susceptible to mites. The most common type of mite that attacks garlic is the bulb mite. Bulb mites are small, red or brown mites that feed on the leaves and bulbs of garlic. They can cause significant damage to garlic plants, reducing yield and quality. There are a number of things that you can do to prevent and control mite infestations on garlic. These include:

  • Planting resistant varieties of garlic.

  • Rotating crops with non-allium plants.

  • Removing weeds and debris from the garden.

  • Watering the garden regularly.

  • Applying a miticide to the garlic plants
hydrogen peroxide and garlic

A Helping Hand for Fall Garlic: Pre-Planting with Hydrogen Peroxide

Fall is prime time for planting garlic, and every gardener wants to start with the healthiest cloves possible. Hydrogen peroxide, a readily available household solution, can be a valuable tool in your garlic-growing arsenal. Here's how a pre-soak in hydrogen peroxide can benefit your crop.

Disarming Hidden Threats

Before planting, garlic cloves may harbor unwanted guests – fungal spores, bacteria, mites, and even some viruses. These can lead to stunted growth, disease, and reduced yields. A hydrogen peroxide soak helps mitigate these risks.

The Power of Oxidation

Hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂) works by releasing oxygen (O₂). This oxygen disrupts the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, effectively killing them. It's important to note that hydrogen peroxide's effectiveness is concentration-dependent. A diluted solution (typically 3%) is best for pre-soaking garlic cloves.

Soaking for Success : Hydrogen Peroxide Recipe

  1. Separate the cloves: Break apart the garlic bulb and gently separate the individual cloves.

  2. Mix one (1) cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide into a gallon of tap water (1 cup or 8 fluid ounces = 237 ml). We have used up to two (2) cups of hydrogen peroxide in a solution with a gallon of water as well.

  3. Submerge the cloves (seed garlic) in the solution (individual garlic cloves, not the entire garlic bulb) for 15 minutes. Soaking for any longer may damage the cloves. You will likely observe tiny bubbles forming on the cloves. It is perfectly fine if the skins on the cloves come off.

  4. Remove the cloves from the solution and rinse with cold water.

  5. Air-dry: After soaking, remove the cloves and spread them on a clean paper towel in a cool, well-ventilated area for an hour or two.

  6. Plant the cloves 2 to 3 inches deep, pointy side up, with 6" spacing.

  7. Option: Add a teaspoon of 91% rubbing alcohol to the solution prior to soaking.

Safety First:  While generally safe, hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin and eyes. Wear gloves and eye protection when handling the solution.

By including a hydrogen peroxide pre-soak in your fall garlic planting routine, you're giving your crop a healthy head start, increasing your chances of a bountiful harvest come summer.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used to kill mites on the peeled garlic cloves, by oxidizing their cells. This means that it breaks down the cell membranes, which kills the bugs. Hydrogen peroxide is particularly effective against soft-bodied insects, such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.

To use hydrogen peroxide to kill bugs, you can either spray it on the bugs directly or mix it with water and water your plants with it. When spraying the bugs directly, be sure to get the undersides of the leaves, as this is where many pests like to hide.

You can also use hydrogen peroxide to prevent pests from infesting your plants in the first place. To do this, simply water your plants with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water once a week.

Here are some tips for using hydrogen peroxide to kill bugs:

  • Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Stronger solutions may damage your plants.

  • Spray the bugs directly or water your plants with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water.

  • Get the undersides of the leaves, as this is where many pests like to hide.

  • Repeat the treatment as needed.

Hydrogen peroxide is a safe and effective way to kill bugs. It is also environmentally friendly and will not harm your plants.

How Hydrogen Peroxide Kills Viruses

Hydrogen peroxide is a common household disinfectant that is also used in a variety of medical applications. It is a mild antiseptic that is safe for use on skin and wounds. However, hydrogen peroxide is also effective at killing viruses.

Viruses are non-living particles that can cause disease. They are made up of a protein coat and a genetic material, such as DNA or RNA. Viruses cannot reproduce on their own. They need to infect a living cell in order to replicate.

Hydrogen peroxide kills viruses by damaging their protein coat and genetic material. The hydrogen peroxide molecules react with the proteins and nucleic acids in the virus, causing them to break down. This prevents the virus from infecting cells and causing disease.

Hydrogen peroxide is effective against a wide range of viruses, including the common cold, influenza, and HIV. It is also effective against bacteria, fungi, and protozoa.

Hydrogen peroxide is a safe and effective way to kill viruses. It is also relatively inexpensive and easy to find. However, it is important to note that hydrogen peroxide can be corrosive to some materials, so it is important to use it carefully.

Here are some additional details about how hydrogen peroxide kills viruses:

  • Hydrogen peroxide breaks down the protein coat of the virus. The protein coat is what protects the virus from the body's immune system. When the protein coat is damaged, the virus is exposed to the immune system and can be killed.

  • Hydrogen peroxide damages the genetic material of the virus. The genetic material is what tells the virus how to replicate. When the genetic material is damaged, the virus cannot replicate and is killed.

  • Hydrogen peroxide creates free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage the virus's proteins and nucleic acids. This damage kills the virus.

Hydrogen Peroxide and garlic groeat
Hydrogen Peroxide and garlic

Dangers of using Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a common household product that is used for a variety of purposes, including cleaning, disinfecting, and bleaching. However, hydrogen peroxide can also be dangerous if it is not used properly.

The most common dangers of using hydrogen peroxide are:

  • Eye irritation: Hydrogen peroxide can irritate the eyes, causing redness, burning, and watering. If hydrogen peroxide gets into your eyes, flush them immediately with water for at least 15 minutes.

  • Skin irritation: Hydrogen peroxide can also irritate the skin, causing redness, itching, and burning. If hydrogen peroxide gets on your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and water.

  • Inhalation: Hydrogen peroxide can be harmful if it is inhaled. Symptoms of hydrogen peroxide inhalation include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. If you inhale hydrogen peroxide, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Ingestion: Hydrogen peroxide is not safe to drink. If you swallow hydrogen peroxide, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In large amounts, hydrogen peroxide can be fatal. If you swallow hydrogen peroxide, seek medical attention immediately.

groeat farm hardneck garlic
chemistry lab pouring hydrogen peroxide over garlic

In addition to these dangers, hydrogen peroxide can also be corrosive to some materials, such as metal and plastic. It is important to read the label of any hydrogen peroxide product carefully and to follow the directions for use.

If you have any concerns about the safety of using hydrogen peroxide, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Here are some tips for using hydrogen peroxide safely:

  • Always wear gloves when handling hydrogen peroxide.

  • Do not mix hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals, as this can create dangerous fumes.

  • Keep hydrogen peroxide out of reach of children and pets.

  • Store hydrogen peroxide in a cool, dark place.

  • Do not use hydrogen peroxide that has expired.

  • If you experience any adverse reactions to hydrogen peroxide, discontinue use and seek medical attention.

How is Hydrogen Peroxide Made

Hydrogen peroxide is made by a process called the anthraquinone process. In this process, anthraquinone is first reduced using hydrogen to produce the corresponding anthrahydroquinone. This is then oxidized using oxygen to produce hydrogen peroxide and recover anthraquinone.

The anthraquinone process is the most common method for producing hydrogen peroxide on an industrial scale. It is a relatively efficient process that produces high-quality hydrogen peroxide. However, it is also a relatively energy-intensive process.

There are a number of other methods for producing hydrogen peroxide, including:

  • Electrolysis of water

  • Photolysis of water

  • Fermentation of organic matter


GroEat Garlic Farm is a small, family-owned and operated farm located in Bozeman, Montana. The farm was started by Mr. Jere Folgert, who is passionate about growing high-quality garlic. The farm uses sustainable practices, such as cover cropping and crop rotation, to protect the environment.
hydrogen peroxide on a rampage

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