Choosing between hydrogen peroxide and an enzyme cleaner for urine and other foul-smelling stains? Both solutions have a good reputation for handling at least some portion of the mess. But they also have some distinct pros and cons.
To make your decision easier, let’s break down the key points between these two cleaner categories.
Real quick: What are they?
Just to be sure we’re all on the same page:
Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent. Oxidizing agents take electrons from other substances, causing those other substances to break down. During that process, the hydrogen peroxide also breaks down into oxygen and water.
Enzymes are substances that act as biological catalysts. They control the speed of chemical reactions. When enzymes are used in a cleaning context, non-pathogenic bacteria are suspended in a solution. Once sprayed, these microorganisms excrete enzymes. Those enzymes break down the messes you are trying to clean up.
What they both get right
These two cleaning agents share a number of desirable qualities, which explains why they’re both such popular choices. The main shared traits are:
- Both are effective at quickly breaking down odor-causing substances in urine.
- Both are naturally occurring and readily biodegrade into harmless substances.
- Both are generally considered pet- and human-safe (you can read more about hydrogen peroxide use around pets and humans in this blog).
- Both are generally safe to use on a variety of surfaces including carpet, upholstery, hardwoods and tile.
Setting these shared positives aside, it’s the differences that we need to look at when making a decision. So let’s move on to some of the concerns consumers have raised when shopping for a urine stain and odor remover.
Winner: Hydrogen peroxide
While both can break down stains, hydrogen peroxide is a much more reliable product. That’s because stains tend to be made of a variety of organic compounds. Each individual enzyme can only break down a particular molecule. That means enzyme cleaner formulas are only effective on certain types of stains. It all depends on the bacteria they contain.
Hydrogen peroxide doesn’t have a selectivity problem. It uses electron exchange to break down organic compounds. That makes it far more universally effective.
Winner: Hydrogen peroxide
The problem of enzyme cleaners being limited by the bacteria they contain wouldn’t be so bad if it was easy to tell which bacteria a formula uses. Unfortunately, enzyme cleaners tend to be very protective of their formulas. Instead of specifics, they might say they use an ‘enzymatic blend’ or ‘a formula derived from orange peels.’ Very unhelpful when you want to assess exactly what their products can effectively handle.
Hydrogen peroxide has been studied for nearly two hundred years, and there’s nothing hidden or secretive about it. If you don’t want to have to guess at what your cleaners contain, a hydrogen peroxide-based urine remover is your best bet.
Safe on marble
Winner: Enzyme cleaners
Never use hydrogen peroxide to clean up urine or other messes from marble. That’s because it can literally etch the stone, causing it to become rough in appearance. Re-polishing etched marble is a tedious chore. Ideally, you want to avoid it in the first place.
Fortunately, marble is far from the most common material found in homes. However, if you do have marble countertops, flooring or furniture at risk of needing a de-odorizing treatment, choose an enzyme cleaner to get the job done safely.
Conclusion: Both work well, but hydrogen peroxide is more universally effective
If you don’t want to worry about your stain and odor remover working well ever time, go for a hydrogen peroxide-based formula. Solutions like Urine Trouble reliably erase the stink AND the stain, every time.