We’d place a bet that, if we looked at your cleaning cupboard right now, we could find a bottle of bleach in plain sight. Its disinfectant, mold and mildew removing properties makes it a must have in any household and a must have in your cleaning routine.
“Bleach” is the generic cleaning term that usually refers to various chemical products that are used to remove color or stains. Most liquid household bleach specifically contains diluted sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient.
However, sometimes people aren’t aware of the consequences the misuse of bleach can have on our house and health, so we want to go through all the details with you.
First, what it’s commonly used for.
We have to lay out that bleach is not a general cleaner, it’s a disinfectant. By this we mean that bleach is great at killing bacteria and viruses, but not quite as good at removing grime and dirt. So, if you have a stained sink, the bleach might not remove the stain but it sure will kill any bacteria on it.
Bleach is commonly used for wiping down toilets, bathtubs and sinks. It’s also used to whiten light fabrics, remove stains from them and there are color-safe types of bleach that use hydrogen peroxide, instead of sodium hypochlorite or chlorine, to help remove stains from color fabrics.
When we speak of this, we don’t mean to say: “Actually, bleach isn’t even that good as a disinfectant.” Because it is. It kills pretty much everything microscopic you could be afraid of: bacteria, viruses, amoeba. When applied to a surface, bleach needs 20 minutes to effectively cleanse anything in its path.
But we do want to make conscience about the fact that it’s effectiveness might not be worth all the downsides it brings, though proper use of it might reduce some of these dangerous side-effects we’ve laid out next.
Bleach is a corrosive liquid, it causes irritation and burns, for the same reason It should never be used on stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, marble, or granite, it’s likely that it would tear a hole through them.
It’s been found to cause breathing problems.
Bleach has been linked to asthma cases in many different ways: it worsens it in people who already have it and develops it in people who expose themselves to it often.
Bleach has been labeled as an asthmagen, which means it can cause asthma, not just trigger an asthma attack in someone who is already asthmatic.
It’s bad for the environment.
The effects the chemical industry has on the environment is a big, long topic to break down, but generally speaking, the byproducts of producing bleach can potentially contribute to ozone depletion. We also have to take into account the chemical waste produced by factories during the manufacturing process.
It’s usually overkill.
Truly! The truth is that in most households, the need for routine disinfection is rare, especially in such a high grade as bleach offers. Research has demonstrated that less toxic ingredients, such as vinegar and baking soda, have antibacterial properties that may be used in place of harsh chemicals.
It can react very badly with other cleaning products.
Combining chlorine bleach with acids or ammonia is a very, very bad idea: it creates toxic fumes. Other products you cannot mix with bleach or products that contain bleach include vinegar, window and glass cleaners, drain and oven cleaners, de-liming products, toilet bowl cleaners and any liquid dishwashing detergents that contain ammonia compounds.
It’s extremely toxic, and dangerous for unsupervised children and pets.
Bleach was the cause of 31,224 calls to U.S. Poison Control Centers in 2019; 11,000 of them were for children under the age of 5. In 2020, from January to March (in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic) calls to Poison Control Centers for disinfectant exposures increased 16.4% and exposures among children younger than 5 represented a large percentage of those calls.
Vinegar is an all-star of the natural cleaning scene, useful for cleaning, deodorizing, and more. It’s around 80% effective against viruses and mold bacteria, which makes it a great choice for a natural disinfectant.
Baking soda is great when you need a bit more power behind your cleaning. It serves as an abrasive, to scrub away any stains along with vinegar. Plus, it causes a cool, inoffensive reaction.
Soap and water
Castile soap is a one in all product that has a variety of uses. If you’re not a fan of bleach or using anything too strong around your home, you can count on castile soap to help you keep almost everything clean. It is vegetable based, natural, and a very gentle soap that is safe to use around children and pets.