The Common Cold Remedies Hydrogen Peroxide

In 1928, a doctor named Richard Simmons conducted experiments to show that, contrary to popular belief, the common cold actually begins breeding in the inner ear before spreading to infect the rest of the body. Therefore, he hypothesized the best way to treat a common cold would be to attack it where it starts: in the inner ear. His suggestion? Place a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into the ear.


In 1938, researchers in Germany also had some success using hydrogen peroxide as a cure for the common cold.

It is proven that hydrogen peroxide has antibacterial qualities. But people make arguments both for and against listing hydrogen peroxide among effective cold remedies. The people who say hydrogen peroxide isn’t an effective cold remedy highlight the fact that the cold is caused by a virus, not bacteria. Thus, this group states that a product that kills bacteria won’t help relieve cold symptoms.

Hydrogen Peroxide: An Old Cold Remedy

Some people swear that placing a few drops of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide into each ear will cure the common cold within 12 to 14 hours. These believers recommend waiting five to 10 minutes after administering the drops, until the mild stinging and bubbling subsides, and then draining the liquid onto a tissue.

However, this recommendation comes with a caveat: It’s more effective if done when symptoms first appear and does not work as well once the cold has spread throughout the body.

So, does hydrogen peroxide really help cure the common cold? Currently, there hasn’t been much scientific research conducted done to determine whether 3-percent hydrogen peroxide should be listed as an effective cold remedy. This, however, does not mean it is ineffective. It simply means this treatment is unproven in research.

Attempting the treatment mentioned above of putting a few drops in your ear, as long as it is the 3-percent hydrogen peroxide solution, should not harm you.

Hydrogen Peroxide Warning

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings over high-strength hydrogen peroxides and has not approved such products for internal use. This warning refers to the 30- to 35-percent high-strength solutions commonly sold as a disinfectant, not 3-precent hydrogen peroxide.


Proven Hydrogen Peroxide Uses

Hydrogen peroxide in its diluted form (typically 3 percent concentration but sometimes as high as 10 percent) has many uses. People regularly use hydrogen peroxide:

  • as an antiseptic mouth wash
  • to bleach hair or clothing
  • to disinfect small wounds
  • to help remove ear wax.

Without proper training and care, you should not handle higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (those with concentrations of 30 percent or more). These hydrogen peroxide solutions can cause bodily harm.

Hydrogen Peroxide Warnings

While some people tout the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide as a cold remedy, there are certain things you should not do with hydrogen peroxide. For instance, you should not put hydrogen peroxide into direct contact with any mucous membrane.

The Center for Disease Control warns that hydrogen peroxide can be “mildly irritating to the skin and mucous membranes.” This warning is meant for people who are using hydrogen peroxide as a household disinfectant, but it should also be taken into consideration by those looking to use hydrogen peroxide as a cold remedy.

You should also never swallow or ingest hydrogen peroxide or inject it into your body, no matter the concentration, as both of these actions can have seriously harmful consequences.


Gupta, Chris (2003). Cold Remedies That Really Work. Retrieved November 19, 2007 from the New Media Explorer Web site: (n.d.) The Many Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide. Retrieved November 19, 2007 from the Truth or Fiction Web site:

Urban Legends Reference Pages (April 30, 2006) Hydrogen Peroxide. Retrieved November 19, 2007 from the Snopes Web site: