By Jessica Ramer

Some people, especially those who are environmentally conscious, question the safety of bleach and other chemical sanitizing agents. One natural alternative is vinegar, which does have antimicrobial properties, although it is not, by itself, an adequate disinfectant. However there is a method of disinfecting meat and produce that uses both vinegar and hydrogen peroxide solutions. Tests on meat and produce show that this combination is highly effective in killing the bacteria that cause gastroenteritis. It was also effective on kitchen surfaces and cutting boards.


Clean the area to be disinfected with soap and water. While soap does not kill germs, it does make it easier to get them off of surfaces. If you are disinfecting produce, rinse thoroughly with water or use a soap designed for foods.

Spray the surface or food to be disinfected with hydrogen peroxide only. Let it remain on the surface for a minute or two. Do not rinse. Never mix the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together in the same bottle as doing so will destroy their effectiveness. Always keep the two solutions in separate bottles.

Spray the surface or produce with vinegar. Because the hydrogen peroxide is still on the surface, you will now have the two substances working together to kill germs. Wait a moment or two before rinsing. The combination of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide is more effective than either substance used separately. Susan Sumner, a food scientist at Virginia Tech told "Science News Online," that "if the acetic acid got rid of 100 organisms, the hydrogen peroxide would get rid of 10,000, and the two together would get rid of 100,000."