Is Bleach Safe for Household Cleaning

Household Cleaners

If your mother and grandmother were anything like mine, there was always a bottle of Clorox bleach in the house. It was used in the laundry, for household cleaning and sometimes in the bath. This was just one of the many staples I grew up with as a child that carried over into my adult life.

With the outbreak of Covid-19 or Corona Virus and subsequent quarantining, everyone is on high alert and “Spring Cleaning” is being taken to a whole new level. Keeping your families and homes safe, clean and sanitized is paramount in every household across the country and beyond.

While the use of Lysol and other household cleaners have surged, the use of bleach comes to mind. While bleach is an amazing disinfectant that kills many bacteria and viruses, it is quite dangerous if not used properly. If you are an avid believer and user of bleach in your home to kill germs and bacteria, here are some tips to keep you and your family safe.

Never Mix Bleach with Other Cleaners

Never mix bleach with other cleaners such as ammonia. When bleach is mixed with ammonia, it forms chloramine vapors that are not only toxic, in some cases, the combination can be fatal. The combination damages your lungs and respiratory system.

Acids such as vinegar and lemon juice should never be mixed with bleach as this creates chlorine gases which cause wheezing, difficulty breathing, sore throat, cough, and eye or skin irritation with exposure. If you breathe in chlorine fumes, get to an area where you can breathe fresh air. Remove any clothing that has been contaminated, flush any chlorine from your skin and eyes and seek medical attention.

Rubbing alcohol is another useful cleaning agent by itself, but you should never mix with bleach. Alcohol and bleach can combine to form chloroform which can render you unconscious and is a probable human carcinogen. It can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, liver, nervous system, kidneys, and your reproductive system. Unlike chlorine gas, chloroform has a non-irritating odor that can make it very difficult to detect, so with that said, err on the side of caution and never mix the two.

How to Use Bleach Safely

cleaning bathroom with bleach

Bleach is extremely volatile when mixed with other agents, therefore, it is critical to avoid mixing it with anything other than water. Clorox recommends diluting ½ cup of concentrated Clorox Regular Bleach in one gallon of water for disinfecting hard, non-porous surfaces of showers, counters, and floors.

For sanitizing dishes, you can use two teaspoonfuls in one gallon of water. First, wash dishes including dog bowls with dish soap and water as usual. Then, dip your dishes in the sanitizing solution of bleach and water and set them out to air dry.

Storing Bleach and Other Household Cleaners

You should always keep bleach and other household cleaners in cabinets that are out of the reach of children and pets. Poison Control offers tips for preventing accidental bleach poisonings in children. Remembering that bleach should not be mixed with anything other than water, however, if you keep a premixed solution of bleach and water, make sure the container is safe for storing the mix and is clearly marked, sealed, and kept in a safe place. It is best to keep bleach and other cleaning products in their original containers as all glass and plastics are not suitable for storing chemicals.

Never pour bleach into a cup or container and leave it unattended. If a pet or child gets a hold of bleach, flush the eyes or skin with running water for at least 15 minutes and immediately call Poison Control. Give a child or pet a small amount of water or milk before calling Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 if they ingest any bleach.

Does Bleach Kill Mold

Bleach can efficiently kill mold on hard, non-porous surfaces such as porcelain, ceramic tiles, vinyl, and linoleum. However, bleach will not successfully treat mold on porous surfaces such as wood or drywall. For this reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) no longer recommends using bleach for mold remediation.

Top choices for mold remediation include using a wet vacuum to remove water, removing infected materials, and using a HEPA vacuum to remove contaminants from the air, however, enlisting the help and services of a professional may be best.

Conclusion

Bleach is very strong and dangerous if safety precautions are not taken. Even if you are using bleach that has been diluted properly in water, you will want to take care to not breathe in the fumes. Bleach has long been associated with respiratory problems including asthma, and lung disease.

When using bleach, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area and avoid placing your mouth and nose near the fumes. Wearing a mask can be beneficial in preventing accidental inhalation of the gases. Additionally, it is wise to wear eye protection and keep your skin covered to prevent irritation and burns.

While bleach can be an effective agent for sanitizing and disinfecting objects in your home, it is not the only option available to you. White vinegar is a potent, natural agent that can cut through grease and kills mold and combining with baking soda adds foaming and a little scrubbing power. Adding baking soda to your drains, and then adding vinegar to also help to release and break up minor clogs.

Hydrogen peroxide is another substance that can be used to disinfect surfaces. In addition, lemon juice is a natural substance that kills germs while imparting a fresh citrus scent, but whatever you use to clean and sanitize your home, read the safety guidelines provided on the labels and keep windows open for ventilation.

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Be safe!

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